Tag Archives: Catholic church
I think it was an error in our officer to shut the doors of the church, & in the Governor to refer it to the Roman catholic head. The priests must settle their differences in their own way, provided they commit no breach of the peace. If they break the peace they should be arrested. On our principles all church-discipline is voluntary; and never to be enforced by the public authority; but on the contrary to be punished when it extends to acts of force. The Govr. should restore the keys of the church to the priest who was in possession.
To James Madison, July 5, 1804
Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Constitutional leaders protect people’s rights to protest peacefully.
Louisiana Governor Claiborne wrote to Secretary of State Madison about strongly disputing factions within a Catholic Church in New Orleans. A local officer, fearing the public might be endangered, locked the church doors, forbade either side entrance, and asked a more senior official in the Church to decide the matter.
Jefferson called this a mistake. Disputants within the church who broke no laws were not subject to any government action. This was the same theme as in his Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, enacted more than 20 years before. That law, which dis-established the official church in his home state, limited government involvement in church affairs to people’s illegal actions only. In 1790, the First Amendment to the Constitution clearly tied the national government’s hands in most church matters.
The President ordered the return of the church’s keys.
“Thank you so much for the great job
you did as Thomas Jefferson.”
Missouri Mappers Association
Mr. Jefferson will do a great job for your audience.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
I have recieved … [your] application [for] the purchase of a site for a Roman Catholic church … I have referred the paper to them [the Commissioners of Washington City, now D.C.] , recommending to them all the favor which the object of the purchase would urge, the advantages of every kind which it would promise, and their duties permit. I shall be happy on this and on every other occasion of shewing my respect & concern for the religious society over which you preside in these states …
To [Bishop] John Carroll, September 3, 1801
Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders encourage moral influences.
The Bishop in Baltimore along with others applied to buy public land for a Catholic church in the nation’s capital. Neither the approval nor the price were Jefferson’s to decide. Those choices were up to the city’s commissioners.
Jefferson was no particular friend to the Catholic church or any faith which dictated what its members must believe or subjected non-believers to their creed. Yet, he was a friend to churches in general and encouraged their proliferation. He appreciated the moral codes practiced by their members, believing society as a whole benefitted from them. Thus, he added his recommendation to the Catholics’ application.