"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or the press."
This doctrine of religious freedom was not really some new doctrine but an overlooked doctrine of the Holy Scriptures that persecuted Christian sects practiced since the time of Christ.
These sects which were usually identified more by their pastors name rather than a denominational tag, believed strongly and practiced consistently and distinctly to "let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind" meant that it is not in the kings, not in any other man's power to compel the heart. One may compel men to be hypocrites, as many are both toward God and the state, but to punish any man only for the cause of conscience is against the Word of God.
In 1631 Roger Williams was banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony for preaching religious liberty. He along with Dr. John Clark, Obadiah Holmes and John Crandall were used by God's providence to establish the first colony for absolute religious freedom for all and to be the model for a new nation that would be one nation under God with religious freedom for all, a government encouraging religious freedom and practice without government intrusion nor establishment of any one faith over another.
Roger Williams was influenced by a historic Baptist pastor in England by the name of Samuel Howe. Samuel was influenced by an anonymous Baptist pastor who was imprisoned for his faith and convictions about religious liberty.
It is believed that this anonymous Baptist pastor imprisoned in Newgate prison was responsible for writing a petition entitled "A Most Humble Supplication," this prisoner had to smuggle his writings on parchment stuffed into milk bottles.
The message itself was written in milk and could only be read by browning the parchment by candle flame. It was transcribed and submitted to the king of England.
Both the king and parliament ignored his pleas but the common people heard and God used these truths to begin the framework for religious freedom in a new nation to be called the United States of America. In this "Humble Supplication to the King" he says, "It is a good and safe rule in the theology that in matters of the worship of God according to Paul's rule, "Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind." (reason). The vileness of persecuting the body of any man only for the cause of conscience is against the Word of God and law of Christ. In his treatise he emphasizes, soul liberty, self evident truth in the mind of Christians, reason, all men equal and individualism.
This is a background that formed the basis of the first amendment to the Constitution of these United States of America. If we are to maintain vigilance in our preservation of these truths we must never lose understanding of what brought this and other amendments into being part of this great document but also why we must see to it that they remain for future generations.
As an American patriot I would never want to see a state established religion, not the sect I personally identify with and adhere to nor any of the other so many of our American citizens choose to follow. As patriots may God give us all the mindset with that of Sam Adams who declared "I am not a bigot, this puritan can hear a prayer of any man of piety" and so inspired the continental congress to begin their proceedings in prayer.