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Delaware's constitution is typical of the understanding of the authors of the federal constitutions 1st amendment meant as to what constitutes the establishment of religion by the state. In Article 22 a common sense oath is required to affirm an office holder in the state is at least a nominal Christian. The people of Delaware had real world experience in the characters and nature of men. In founding their state they preferred to take their chances among professing Christians in offices of trust verses those who reject Christ and the moral demands he makes of people. Article 29 demonstrates the mindset of the day in the new nation that the oaths in Article 22 isn't establishing a religion. In acknowledging that they regard the scriptures as of divine origin to the exclusion of all of the religions of the world. In other words they considered those religions false. That's only one side of the coin. The other side of that coin is the recognition of the frailties of men and their propensities toward sin.  Therefore they understood that neither the citizens nor especially the state possessed the wherewithal to determine the truth as laid out in those scriptures for their neighbor.  In todays mindset this constitutes the establishment of one religion over the other, but not in theirs. The establishment of one religion over another to them was a vehicle of evil men to separate the ruled from personnel interaction with their creator and to weed out and destroy the propagators of real religion. This does nothing of the sort but instead recognizes the real world limits of human government and the dangers of immoral men wielding it's power. Does this constitution imply that people not endeavoring to follow Christ are more likely to be immoral and wicked. Absolutely! Does it force Christianity on the public? No, the means to bring the public to true faith belonged not to human government to to those called of God and their churches. Besides the public already considered themselves to be Christians.


ART. 22. Every person who shall be chosen a member of either house, or appointed to any office or place of trust, before taking his seat, or entering upon the execution of his office, shall take the following oath, or affirmation, if conscientiously scrupulous of taking an oath, to wit: 
" I, A B. will bear true allegiance to the Delaware State, submit to its constitution and laws, and do no act wittingly whereby the freedom thereof may be prejudiced." 

And also make and subscribe the following declaration, to wit: 
" I, A B. do profess faith in God the Father, and in Jesus Christ His only Son, and in the Holy Ghost, one God, blessed for evermore; and I do acknowledge the holy scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by divine inspiration."  And all officers shall also take an oath of office. 


ART. 26. No person hereafter imported into this State from Africa ought to be held in slavery under any presence whatever; and no Negro, Indian, or mulatto slave ought to be brought into this State, for sale, from any part of the world.


Article 29 barred those currently serving in an official capacity in a Christian denomination from serving in the state at the same time.

ART. 29. There shall be no establishment of any one religious sect in this State in preference to another; and no clergyman or preacher of the gospel, of any denomination, shall be capable of holding any civil once in this State, or of being a member of either of the branches of the legislature, while they continue in the exercise of the pastoral function.

To view the entire constitution follow this hyperlink.

The Constitution of Delaware 1776

© Daniel Martinovich 2002-2013

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