Test: LSAT Reading

Adapted from the Opinion of the Court by Chief Justice Morrison Waite in the United States Supreme Court Case Reynolds v. U.S. 98 U.S. 145 (1878)

The word "religion" is not defined in the Constitution. We must go elsewhere, therefore, to ascertain its meaning, and nowhere more appropriately, we think, than to the history of the times in the midst of which the provision was adopted. The precise point of the inquiry is what is the religious freedom which has been guaranteed.

Before the adoption of the Constitution, attempts were made in some of the colonies and states to legislate not only in respect to the establishment of religion, but in respect to its doctrines and precepts as well. The people were taxed, against their will, for the support of religion, and sometimes for the support of particular sects to whose tenets they could not and did not subscribe. Punishments were prescribed for a failure to attend upon public worship, and sometimes for entertaining [98 U.S. 145, 163] heretical opinions. The controversy upon this general subject was animated in many of the states, but seemed at last to culminate in Virginia. In 1784, the House of Delegates of that State having under consideration “a bill establishing provision for teachers of the Christian religion” postponed it until the next session, and directed that the bill should be published and distributed, and that the people be requested “to signify their opinion respecting the adoption of such a bill at the next session of assembly.”

This brought out a determined opposition. Amongst others, Mr. Madison prepared a "Memorial and Remonstrance," which was widely circulated and signed, and in which he demonstrated "that religion, or the duty we owe the Creator," was not within the cognizance of civil government. [Semple's Virginia Baptists, Appendix.] At the next session the proposed bill was not only defeated, but another, "for establishing religious freedom," drafted by Mr. Jefferson, was passed. [1 Jeff. Works, 45; 2 Howison, Hist. of Va. 298.] In the preamble of this act (12 Hening's Stat. 84) religious freedom is defined; and after a recital "that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion, and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency, is a dangerous fallacy which at once destroys all religious liberty," it is declared "that it is time enough for the rightful purposes of civil government for its officers to interfere when principles break out into overt acts against peace and good order." In these two sentences is found the true distinction between what properly belongs to the church and what to the state.

1.

The author's reference that "religion is not defined in the Constitution" is similar to which other Constitutional language?

Article Five of the Constitution allowing for the document to be amended in the future

The requirement that a President must be at least 35 years of age

The First Amendment's guarantee of "the freedom of speech, or of the press"

The use of the phrase "we, the people of the United States" in the Preamble to the Constitution

The lack of a definition for "cruel and unusual punishment" in the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution

1/2 questions

0%

Access results and powerful study features!

Take 15 seconds to create an account.
Start now! Create your free account and get access to features like:
  • Full length diagnostic tests
  • Invite your friends
  • Access hundreds of practice tests
  • Monitor your progress over time
  • Manage your tests and results
  • Monitor the progress of your class & students
By clicking Create Account you agree that you are at least 13 years old and you agree to the Varsity Tutors LLC Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.
Learning Tools by Varsity Tutors