All 50 State Constitutions Mention…

Alabama Constitution from 1901. The Preamble say in part:

  • “We the people of the State of Alabama, invoking the favor and guidance of Almighty God, do ordain and establish the following Constitution . . .”
  • But in Section 1 the Alabama Constitution echoes Jefferson’s words from our Declaration of Independence, recognizing that our right are not a “gift” from government, but rather are granted to all people by God. Section 1
    That all men are equally free and independent; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Alaska (1956) says in its preamble:

  • “We the people of Alaska, grateful to God and to those who founded our nation and pioneered this great land, in order to secure and transmit to succeeding generations our heritage of political, civil, and religious liberty within the Union of States, do ordain and establish this constitution for the State of Alaska.”

Arizona Preamble says:

  • “We the people of the State of Arizona, grateful to Almighty God for our liberties, do ordain this Constitution.”

Arkansas Preamble says:

  • “We, the People of the State of Arkansas, grateful to Almighty God for the privilege of choosing our own form of government; for our civil and religious liberty; and desiring to perpetuate its blessings, and secure the same to our selves and posterity; do ordain and establish this Constitution.”

California Constitution Preamble:

  • “We, the People of the State of California, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, in order to secure and perpetuate its blessings, do establish this Constitution.”

Colorado Preamble:

  • “We, the people of Colorado, with profound reverence for the Supreme Ruler of the Universe, in order to form a more independent and perfect government; establish justice; insure tranquility; provide for the common defense; promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this constitution for the “State of Colorado.”

Connecticut constitution says:

  • “The People of Connecticut acknowledging with gratitude, the good providence of God, in having permitted them to enjoy a free government; do, in order more effectually to define, secure, and perpetuate the liberties, rights and privileges which they have derived from their ancestors; hereby, after a careful consideration and revision, ordain and establish the following constitution and form of civil government.”
  • According to Harbornet, the original version also included this phrase:
    “No preference shall be given by law to any Christian sect or mode of worship.”
    Note that discrimination was prohibited among Christian sects.
  • Connecticut is our “Constitution State” and has a very religious background. It was a group of Baptists in CT who wrote to Thomas Jefferson, fearing they would be discriminated against. Jefferson wrote back his famous (recently, anyway) letter of reassurance that talked about a wall of separation. But also, according to Wikipedia,Connecticut was originally founded by Congregationalists who split away from the Massachusetts colony between 1635 and 1636. The first settlers founded three towns on the Connecticut river in Windsor, Wethersfield, and Hartford. One of the main purposes of the Fundamental Orders was to formalize the relationship between these three towns. The core foundation of the Fundamental Orders incorporates the ingrained religious background of the colony’s founders. They called for “an orderly and decent government according to God” in attempts to pursue “The liberty and purity of the gospel of our Lord Jesus.” Until 1818, the Congregational Church stood as the established church of the state. All Connecticut residents were required to attend church and/or pay taxes to support the Congregational faith. Anyone belonging to another Christian sect such as Baptist, Episcopal, or Quaker, had to provide documentation signed by a church officer indicating attendance and financial support of their separate church in order to avoid paying taxes to the Congregationalists.

Delaware (from 1897) is a little more bold than some others in tipping its hat to God. Here is the entire Preamble:

  • “Through Divine goodness, all men have by nature the rights of worshiping and serving their Creator according to the dictates of their consciences, of enjoying and defending life and liberty, of acquiring and protecting reputation and property, and in general of obtaining objects suitable to their condition, without injury by one to another; and as these rights are essential to their welfare, for due exercise thereof, power is inherent in them; and therefore all just authority in the institutions of political society is derived from the people, and established with their consent, to advance their happiness; and they may for this end, as circumstances require, from time to time, alter their Constitution of government.”

Florida, originally from 1845, contains in its preamble a statement of gratitude to God:

  • “We, the people of the State of Florida, being grateful to Almighty God for our constitutional liberty, in order to secure its benefits, perfect our government, insure domestic tranquility, maintain public order, and guarantee equal civil and political rights to all, do ordain and establish this constitution.”

Georgia has, as do other state Constitutions, a strong statement about a respect for God. Georgia also provides for using state funds for religious organizations (to help the poor).

  • Preamble:
    To perpetuate the principles of free government, insure justice to all, preserve peace, promote the interest and happiness of the citizen and of the family, and transmit to posterity the enjoyment of liberty, we the people of Georgia, relying upon the protection and guidance of Almighty God, do ordain and establish this Constitution.
  • Section I, Paragraph III.
    Freedom of conscience. Each person has the natural and inalienable right to worship God, each according to the dictates of that person´s own conscience; and no human authority should, in any case, control or interfere with such right of conscience.
  • Section I, Paragraph IV.
    Religious opinions; freedom of religion. No inhabitant of this state shall be molested in person or property or be prohibited from holding any public office or trust on account of religious opinions; but the right of freedom of religion shall not be so construed as to excuse acts of licentiousness or justify practices inconsistent with the peace and safety of the state.
  • Article III., Section IX., Paragraph IV.
    (d) Funds appropriated to or received by the State Housing Trust Fund for the Homeless… may be expended for programs of purely public charity for the homeless, including programs involving the participation of churches and religious institutions…

Hawaii’s constitution is unusual in that it doesn’t use the word “God” or “Creator,” but rather refers to “Divine Guidance.” The “D” and “G” are upper case letters in the sentence of the preamble where the phrase is used.

  • The Preamble begins with:
    We, the people of Hawaii, grateful for Divine Guidance, and mindful of our Hawaiian heritage and uniqueness as an island State, dedicate our efforts to fulfill the philosophy decreed by the Hawaii State motto, “Ua mau ke ea o ka aina i ka pono.”
    [The state motto translates to “The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness.”]

Idaho Constitution dates from 1889. In its Preamble we find:

  • “We, the people of the state of Idaho, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, to secure its blessings and promote our common welfare do establish this Constitution.”

Illinois’ Constitution says:

  • “We, the People of the State of Illinois – grateful to Almighty God for the civil, political and religious liberty which He has permitted us to enjoy and seeking His blessing upon our endeavors…”

Indiana Constitution (from 1851) contains several clauses recognizing the faith on which the country was founded. Interesting is their use of CAPS. The upper-case and lower-case words below are presented just as they are found in Indiana’s Constitution:

  • Preamble:
    …WE, the People of the State of Indiana, grateful to ALMIGHTY GOD for the free exercise of the right to choose our own form of government, do ordain this Constitution.
  • Article 1 (Bill of Rights)
    Section 1.
    WE DECLARE, That all people are created equal; that they are endowed by their CREATOR with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that all power is inherent in the people; and that all free governments are, and of right ought to be, founded on their authority, and instituted for their peace, safety, and well-being. For the advancement of these ends, the people have, at all times, an indefeasible right to alter and reform their government.
    Section 2
    . All people shall be secured in the natural right to worship ALMIGHTY GOD, according to the dictates of their own consciences.

Iowa Constitution (from 1857), in its Preamble, says:

  • “We, the People of the State of Iowa, grateful to the Supreme Being for the blessings hitherto enjoyed, and feeling our dependence on Him for a continuation of these blessings…”

Kansas recognizes the blessings of God. The Preamble contains:

  • “We, the people of Kansas, grateful to Almighty God for our civil and religious privileges, in order to insure the full enjoyment of our rights as American citizens, do ordain and establish this constitution of the state of Kansas…”

Kentucky. The Preamble to their Constitution (from 1891) says:

  • “We, the people of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, grateful to Almighty God for the civil, political and religious liberties we enjoy, and invoking the continuance of these blessings, do ordain and establish this Constitution.”

Louisiana, from 1921, says in its Preamble:

  • “We, the people of the State of Louisiana, grateful to Almighty God for the civil, political and religious liberties we enjoy . . .”
  • Notice later in Section 8 where the Constitution has its own Establishment and Free Exercise clauses. As in our own Constitution, the restriction here is on the making of laws, not on common practice or ceremonial recognition of religion:
    “No law shall be enacted respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

Maine (1820, updated 2003) has this for its Preamble:

  • “Objects of government. We the people of Maine, in order to establish justice, insure tranquility, provide for our mutual defense, promote our common welfare, and secure to ourselves and our posterity the blessings of liberty, acknowledging with grateful hearts the goodness of the Sovereign Ruler of the Universe in affording us an opportunity, so favorable to the design; and, imploring God’s aid and direction in its accomplishment, do agree to form ourselves into a free and independent State, by the style and title of the State of Maine and do ordain and establish the following Constitution for the government of the same.”

Maryland’s Constitution dates back to 1776. In its Declaration of Rights it opens with:

  • “We, the People of the State of Maryland, grateful to Almighty God for our civil and religious liberty, and taking into our serious consideration the best means of establishing a good Constitution in this State for the sure foundation and more permanent security…”
  • And in Article 36 it spells out religious protections, rights and obligations. It requires a belief in God and a system of afterlife rewards and punishments. Despite that, the article declares that it is not establishing a religion by those requirements:
    “That as it is the duty of every man to worship God in such manner as he thinks most acceptable to Him, all persons are equally entitled to protection in their religious liberty; wherefore, no person ought by any law to be molested in his person or estate, on account of his religious persuasion, or profession, or for his religious practice, unless, under the color of religion, he shall disturb the good order, peace or safety of the State, or shall infringe the laws of morality, or injure others in their natural, civil or religious rights; nor ought any person to be compelled to frequent, or maintain, or contribute, unless on contract, to maintain, any place of worship, or any ministry; nor shall any person, otherwise competent, be deemed incompetent as a witness, or juror, on account of his religious belief; provided, he believes in the existence of God, and that under His dispensation such person will be held morally accountable for his acts, and be rewarded or punished therefor either in this world or in the world to come.”Nothing shall prohibit or require the making reference to belief in, reliance upon, or invoking the aid of God or a Supreme Being in any governmental or public document, proceeding, activity, ceremony, school, institution, or place.“Nothing in this article shall constitute an establishment of religion (amended by Chapter 558, Acts of 1970, ratified Nov. 3, 1970).”
  • And when you look at the controversy over President-Elect Obama’s choice of pastor for his swearing-in, and the fact that some groups think the President should not swear and oath that mentions God, consider Article 39:“That the manner of administering an oath or affirmation to any person, ought to be such as those of the religious persuasion, profession, or denomination, of which he is a member, generally esteem the most effectual confirmation by the attestation of the Divine Being.”

Massachusetts Constitution, from 1780, has the following in its Preamble:

  • “We… the people of Massachusetts, acknowledging with grateful hearts the goodness of the Great Legislator of the Universe…”
  • And then later we find this:

    Massachusetts Bill of Rights, Part the First
    “It is the right as well as the duty of all men in society, publicly and at stated seasons, to worship the Supreme Being, the great Creator and Preserver of the universe. And no subject shall be hurt, molested, or restrained in his person, liberty, or estate, for worshipping God in the manner and season most agreeable to the dictates of his own conscience; or for his religion profession of sentiments; provided he doth not disturb the public peace, or obstruct others in their religious worship….”

Michigan Constitution dates from 1908. It’s Preamble says:

  • “We, the people of the State of Michigan, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of freedom, and earnestly desiring to secure these blessings undiminished to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this constitution”
  • Then later we find the portion that follows the Northwest Ordinance:Article VIII – Encouragement of education.
    Sec. 1. Religion, morality and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged

Minnesota, dating from 1857, has in its Preamble:

  • “We, the people of the State of Minnesota, grateful to God for our civil and religious liberty, and desiring to perpetuate its blessings…”
  • Later, in Article 1, Section 16, it says:
    “…The right of every man to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience shall never be infringed;…”

Mississippi Constitution, from 1890, says in its Preamble:

  • “We, the people of Mississippi in convention assembled, grateful to Almighty God, and invoking His blessing on our work…”
  • In Section 40, the Constitution provides the oath of office for the state legislature, judges, and all other state offices. The required texts all end with, “So help me God.”
  • In Section 18 (boldface added):”No religious test as a qualification for office shall be required; and no preference shall be given by law to any religious sect or mode of worship; but the free enjoyment of all religious sentiments and the different modes of worship shall be held sacred. The rights hereby secured shall not be construed to justify acts of licentiousness injurious to morals or dangerous to the peace and safety of the state, or to exclude the Holy Bible from use in any public school of this state.”

Missouri Constitution’s Preamble contains:

  • “We, the people of Missouri, with profound reverence for the Supreme Ruler of the Universe, and grateful for His goodness…”

Montana Constitution, from 1889, had as its Preamble:

  • “We the people of Montana grateful to God for the quiet beauty of our state, the grandeur of our mountains, the vastness of our rolling plains, and desiring to improve the quality of life, equality of opportunity and to secure the blessings of liberty for this and future generations do ordain and establish this constitution.”
  • Then in Section 3, the Oath of office, it says that members of the legislature and all executive, ministerial and judicial officers will take an oath that ends with the words “…so help me God.”

Nebraska Constitution, from 1875

  • Preamble:
    “We, the people, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, do ordain and establish the following declaration of rights and frame of government, as the Constitution of the State of Nebraska.”

     

  • Section 4:

    “All persons have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences. … Religion, morality, and knowledge, however, being essential to good government, it shall be the duty of the legislature to pass suitable laws to protect every religious denomination in the peaceable enjoyment of its own mode of public worship, and to encourage schools and the means of instruction.”

Nevada Constitution, from 1864, has as its Preamble:

  • “We the people of the State of Nevada Grateful to Almighty God for our freedom in order to secure its blessings, insure domestic tranquility, and form a more perfect Government, do establish this Constitution.”

New Hampshire Constitution (1792), Article 5 says:

  • “Every individual has a natural and unalienable right to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience, and reason; and no subject shall be hurt, molested, or restrained, in his peers on, liberty, or estate, for worshipping God in the manner and season most agreeable to the dictates of his own conscience; or for his religious profession, sentiments, or persuasion; provided he doth not disturb the public peace or disturb others in their religious worship.”

New Jersey Constitution (from 1844) says in its Preamble:

  • “We, the people of the State of New Jersey, grateful to Almighty God for the civil and religious liberty which He hath so long permitted us to enjoy, and looking to Him for a blessing upon our endeavors to secure and transmit the same unimpaired to succeeding generations, do ordain and establish this Constitution.”
  • Article 1, 3:“No person shall be deprived of the inestimable privilege of worshipping Almighty God in a manner agreeable to the dictates of his own conscience;…”

New Mexico (1911) says in its Preamble:

  • “We, the people of New Mexico, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of liberty, in order to secure the advantages of a state government, do ordain and establish this Constitution.”

New York, from 1846, has this as its Preamble:

  • “WE, THE PEOPLE of the State of New York, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, in order to secure its blessings, DO ESTABLISH THIS CONSTITUTION.”
  • Later in the Constitution (Bill of Rights, Section 3):“The free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination or preference, shall forever be allowed in this state to all humankind; and no person shall be rendered incompetent to be a witness on account of his or her opinions on matters of religious belief; but the liberty of conscience hereby secured shall not be so construed as to excuse acts of licentiousness, or justify practices inconsistent with the peace or safety of this state.”

North Carolina (1868). the Preamble declares (boldface added):

  • “We, the people of the State of North Carolina, grateful to Almighty God, the Sovereign Ruler of Nations, for the preservation of the American Union and the existence of our civil, political and religious liberties, and acknowledging our dependence upon Him for the continuance of those blessings to us and our posterity, do, for the more certain security thereof and for the better government of this State, ordain and establish this Constitution.”

    [Sometimes people think that references to God, or some god (small “g”), are mostly ceremonial in official documents – a “tip of the hat” if you will. The language in the passage above seems to go far beyond a tip of the hat, and also seems to recoginize that there is one God.]
  • Similarly, the language found later is also fairly specific. In Sec. 13. Religious liberty (boldface added):“All persons have a natural and inalienable right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences, and no human authority shall, in any case whatever, control or interfere with the rights of conscience.”

North Dakota’s Constitution (1889) says in its Preamble:

  • “We, the people of North Dakota, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of civil and religious liberty, do ordain and establish this constitution.”

Ohio Constitution (1852) excerpts:

  • Preamble:“We, the people of the State of Ohio, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, to secure its blessings and promote our common welfare, do establish this Constitution.”
  • Section 7:“All men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own conscience… Religion, morality, and knowledge, however, being essential to good government, it shall be the duty of the General Assembly to pass suitable laws, to protect every religious denomination in the peaceable enjoyment of its own mode of public worship, and to encourage schools and the means of instruction.”

Oklahoma Constitution (1907) says in its Preamble:

  • “Invoking the guidance of Almighty God, in order to secure and perpetuate the blessing of liberty; to secure just and rightful government; to promote our mutual welfare and happiness, we, the people of the State of Oklahoma, do ordain and establish this Constitution.”

Oregon (1857) says:

  • Bill of Rights, Article I, Section 2:
    “All men shall be secure in the Natural right, to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their consciences.”

Pennsylvania (1776) says in its Preamble:

  • “WE, the people of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of civil and religious liberty, and humbly invoking His guidance, do ordain and establish this Constitution.”
  • Then in sections 3 and 4 there are more references to God and worship:Section 3.
    “All men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences;…”
    Section 4. (Underline added)
    “No person who acknowledges the being of a God and a future state of rewards and punishments shall, on account of his religious sentiments, be disqualified to hold any office or place of trust or profit under this Commonwealth.”

Rhode Island (1842) says in its Preamble:

  • “We, the people of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, grateful to Almighty God for the civil and religious liberty which He hath so long permitted us to enjoy, and looking to Him for a blessing upon our endeavors to secure and to transmit the same, unimpaired, to succeeding generations, do ordain and establish this Constitution of government.”
  • Later in the Rhode Island Constitution we find these passages:”Section 3. Freedom of religion.
    Whereas Almighty God hath created the mind free; and all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burdens, or by civil incapacitations, tend to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness; and whereas a principal object of our venerable ancestors, in their migration to this country and their settlement of this state, was, as they expressed it, to hold forth a lively experiment that a flourishing civil state may stand and be best maintained with full liberty in religious concernments;…””Section 3. Oath of general officers.
    All general officers shall take the following engagement…’to the best of your abilities, according to law: So help you God.'”

South Carolina (1778) Constitution, Preamble:

  • “We, the people of the State of South Carolina, in Convention assembled, grateful to God for our liberties, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the preservation and perpetuation of the same.”

South Dakota (1889) says in its Preamble:

  • “We, the people of South Dakota, grateful to Almighty God for our civil and religious liberties, in order to form a more perfect and independent government, establish justice, insure tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare and preserve to ourselves and to our posterity the blessings of liberty, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the state of South Dakota.”

Tennessee (1796) says:

  • Preamble
    “…by an act passed on the Twenty-seventh day of November, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and thirty-three…”
    [Note: use of “year of our Lord” was simply a formal way of expressing the date, but why was it such common usage?]
  • Article I, Section HI, Declaration of Rights
    “That all men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their conscience.”

    [Note: the reference is not just “God,” but “Almighty God”]
  • ARTICLE IX – Disqualifications, Section 2
    “No person who denies the being of God, or a future state of rewards and punishments, shall hold any office in the civil department of this state.”

Texas (1845) says in its Preamble:

  • “Humbly invoking the blessings of Almighty God, the People of the State of Texas do ordain and establish this Constitution.”

Utah (1896) says in its Preamble:

  • “Grateful to Almighty God for life and liberty, we the people of Utah … do ordain and establish this Constitution.”

Vermont (1777) says:

  • Preamble:
    “Whereas all government ought to be instituted … to enable the individuals who compose it to enjoy their natural rights and other blessings which the Author of Existence has bestowed on man . . .”
  • Article 3rd. ‘Freedom in religion; right and duty of religious worship':
    “That all persons have a natural and unalienable right, to worship Almighty God, according to the dictates of their own consciences and understandings, as in their opinion shall be regulated by the word of God;… every sect or denomination of Christians ought to observe the sabbath or Lord’s day, and keep up some sort of religious worship, which to them shall seem most agreeable to the revealed will of God.”

Virginia (1776) says:

  • Bill of Rights, XVI:
    “That religion or the duty which we owe our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and, therefore, all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity towards each other.”

Washington (1889) says in its Preamble:

  • “We, the people of the State of Washington, grateful to the Supreme Ruler of the Universe for our liberties, do ordain this constitution.”

West Virginia (1872) says in its Preamble:

  • “Since through Divine Providence we enjoy the blessings of civil, political and religious liberty, we, the people of West Virginia, in and through the provisions of this Constitution, reaffirm our faith in and constant reliance upon God and seek diligently to promote, preserve and perpetuate good government in the state of West Virginia for the common welfare, freedom and security of ourselves and our posterity.”

Wisconsin Constitution (1848) says: Preamble:

  • “We, the people of Wisconsin, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, in order to secure its blessings, form a more perfect government, insure domestic tranquility and promote the general welfare, do establish this constitution.”
  • Article I
    “The right of every person to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of conscience shall never be infringed…” 
  • Article X
    “…the legislature by law may, for the purpose of religious instruction outside the district schools, authorize the release of students during regular school hours.”

Wyoming (1890), says in its Preamble:

  • “We, the people of the State of Wyoming, grateful to God for our civil, political and religious liberties, and desiring to secure them to ourselves and perpetuate them to our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution.”

Special thanks to churchvstate.blogspot.com:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s