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The U.S Constitution, which was written in 1787, contains all the rules and the regulations used by both the government and the citizens and it is among the oldest constitutions in the world. The Declaration of The Independence was the first document to be signed, followed by the U.S constitution and finally, the Thomas Jefferson’s letter in the year 1802 (Jefferson, 1802). In this article, three documents which were implemented in different periods of time in the United States of America with an intention of setting stable foundations for the legislation of the country are discussed. The documents; that is, the United States Constitution, the Thomas Jefferson’s Letter directed to the Danbury Baptists and the Declaration of The Independence are explored to demonstrate their order of implementation, and comparisons and contrasts based on their themes.
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Description of the Documents
Firstly, Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of the Independence in 1776 and was approved by the United States Congress where several forms of the document were published and printed for use by the public during the same year. The Declaration of the Independence document was purposely set to show the equity of human beings. The document stated that all human beings are the same and nobody had the power to oppress the other. The Declaration of the Independence document was of great help to the U.S because they used it to free their colonies from the British powers and its ruling (Lupu, 1985). Secondly, the U.S Constitution which was mainly developed to establish the Americans’ national government and the Americans Fundamental Laws was written in 1787. It main focus was to ensure that all the Americans’ rights were strictly observed. Additionally, the document assured all the Americans of their protection from all dangers and gave them the freedom to worship God according to their beliefs (Eck, 2002). Thirdly, Jefferson also wrote a letter to the Danbury Baptist Association addressing the matters of religion in 1802 (Jefferson, 1802). He gave his views through the letter insisting that matters of religion are personal between God and human being.
On the other hand, the theme of Thomas Jefferson’s letter was to congratulate and thank their president for helping the citizens to separate the state and the Church. According to Jefferson (1802) letter, “a big wall should be created between the church and the state” to ensure that those willing to worship God be put into consideration and be given the permission to do so. Worshipers needed to be guided by the beliefs of their selected religion and not by the laws and the regulations of the state (Lupu, 1985). The Declaration of the Independence brought out a list of complaints to the English King who wanted to justify the British rule separation. In contrast, the U.S Constitution was after the unity of both citizens and non-citizens of America. The U.S Constitution was the government’s charter which came to be rectified later and finally used as the supreme law of the U.S. Additionally, both the U.S Constitution and the Declaration of the Independence were signed at Independence Hall and they played a significant role of spreading democracy worldwide.
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Moreover, there was no good definition of the aspect of separating the state and the church during the period of the signing of these documents. For example, during the signing of the “Declaration of The Independence” document, the theme was mainly to enforce equity for all human beings (Eck, 2002). However, the Declaration of the Document puts into consideration the real definition of equity as demonstrated in the God’s history of creation (Lupu, 1985). The documents had lost the meaning to the Americans since the American colonies had taken the law into their own hands by condemning Great Britain for taking them for granted. The Americans could not apply the law of equality as it is in the story of creation. The Americans did not put into considerations the rights of the slaves and they denied them the fundamental rights creating discrimination gap between them and the Americans (Lupu, 1985).
Beyond, the Constitution set aside to give the definition of religious rights indicating that the government’s rules had brought interference in the way the people worshipped God. Both the church and the government constitutions have different regulations to govern them. In this way, the government and the church may encounter some problems especially when they differ in some ways. Integrating the state and the church would, therefore, bring many challenges to the states because it would be forced to limit its rules and choose among the best decisions on which to operate. Although the state was not willing to release the slaves and exercise their rights, they were ending up to bringing separation of the state and the church (Levinson, 1979). Choosing of the religion to be followed could also bring more conflicts because the state was having different religions (Lupu, 1985). Finally, the government had to be separated from the church because the goodness of God was too much to be accommodated by the government. According to the story of creation, God created human beings equal hence the government does not treat everyone equally (Eck, 2002). For example, according to Levinson (1979), the government of the state discriminated against the slaves and forced them to work for them. This was not Godly hence the government had to be separated from the thoughts of God.
In conclusion, the U.S Constitution, Declaration of Independence and Jefferson’s letter to Danbury Baptist Association contain different information pertaining to the laws governing the United States. Each document was signed at different times where the first document to be signed was the Declaration of the Independence, followed by U.S Constitution and eventually Jefferson’s Letter. Each document contained different views concerning the rights of the Americans.
- Eck, D. L. (2002). A new religious America. HarperCollins World.
- Jefferson, T. (1802, January).Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists. In the Library of Congress Information Bulletin.
- Levinson, S. (1979).” The Constitution” in American Civil Religion. The Supreme Court Review, 1979, 123-151.
- Lupu, I. C. (1985). Keeping the Faith: Religion, Equality, and Speech in the US Constitution. Conn. L. Rev., 18, 739.