The Constitutional Principle: Separation of Church and State
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The Commonwealth v Wolf

The Commonwealth v Wolf, 3 Serg. & R. 48 (Sup. Ct. Penn. 1817) is cited 2 times in The Myth of Separation (Sabbath case)

Legal analysis and writing by Lee Edwards, Esq

Major claims by Barton in his publications:

From The Myth of Separation, page 75-76, Barton writes:

Though this case occurred nearly three decades before Charleston v.. Benjamin, the circumstances in the two cases were almost identical, as were the defense arguments. The court, in addressing the seventh day Sabbath of the Jewish religion vs. the first day Sabbath of the Christian religion, returned to the Scriptures to show that it could not be argued that Saturday, or any other day, was the day commanded by the Scripture--the Sabbath could be any day, as long as it occurred every seventh. However, the court emphasized the importance of a uniform national Sabbath, in this, a Christian nation, Sunday was to be that day:

Laws cannot be administered in any civilized government unless the people are taught to revere the sanctity of an oath, and look to a future state of rewards and punishments for the deeds of this life, It is of the utmost moment, therefore, that they should be reminded of their religious duties at stated periods.... A wise policy would naturally lead to the formation of laws calculated to subserve those salutary purposes. The invaluable privilege of the rights of conscience secured to us by the constitution of the commonwealth, was never intended to shelter those persons, who, out of mere caprice, would directly oppose those laws for the pleasure of showing their contempt and abhorrence of the religious opinions of the great mass of the citizens.

Again, the same conclusion was reached as in the previous cases. The court concluded that the rights of conscience and free exercise of religion do not shelter those opposed to Christianity; rights and beliefs were protected insofar as they did not oppose the advancement of Christianity.

Legal analysis and writing by Lee Edwards, Esq.

Facts: Similar to City Council v. Benjamin. A Jew was convicted of violating a Sunday closing law and claimed exemption under the Pennsylvania constitution.

Issue: Did the Constitution of Pennsylvania exempt Jews or other non-Christians from prosecution for violating Blue Laws?

Answer: No.

Dictum: "Laws cannot be administered by any civilized government unless the people are taught to revere the sanctity of an oath and to look to a future state of rewards and punishments."

Comment: Once again, Barton cites a case decided under a state constitution before the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment.

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