PURITANISM, ENLIGHTENMENT AND THE U.S. CONSTITUTION
1 Much contemporary thought tends to obscure the relationship between
the Christian religion and the political institutions of the United States.
On the one side, one finds liberals who see the birth of toleration in a
collapse of religious hegemony and who treat religion as a matter of
subjective will, as one among many ends the liberal consumer may choose.(1)
On the other side, one finds conservatives of various stripes who treat
religion as a datum of conscience, as a source or expression of objective
imperatives which limit choice.(2) Neither of these alternatives fully
comprehends the dialectic which obtains between religious and political
consciousness in the United States.
2 The political life of the United States is rooted in a religious
consciousness through which individuals achieve within themselves a more or
less rational ordering of their desires and thus achieve in various forms an
undivided union of rational and natural interests. In religious image and
doctrine individuals have before them an ideal representation of the
reconciliation of their particular desires within a divine order. While
rooted in religion, however, the ethical life of the state cannot be reduced
to religion. Religious life is fundamentally inward and in all forms related
to representation. By contrast, civic life in its laws and traditions makes
explicit the objective rationality of the subject, the fundamental principle
and right of an enlightened self-consciousness.
3 In America the religious roots of the state are given explicitly
rational form in Enlightenment thought. One finds a remarkable transition
from a Puritanism born of a strict and exclusive adherence to a particular
faith to a tolerant Enlightened constitution.
4 One finds in the American Constitution a concrete universality: a
union of the particular and sectarian interests and needs of individuals
with their more universal moral/legal nature -- the democratic will of
individuals informed by the common will of the nation. In the Constitution,
the interests expressed in the legislature gain rational form by public
debate, by their relation to law and by their relation to the operation of
the whole state. In short, the plurality of subjective interests is informed
by its relation to an objective common good.
5 This essay suggests that if the United States is to bring about a
resolution to the contradictions inherent in revolutionary individualism
which pose a threat both to ethical institutions and to the satisfaction of
human needs, it must find a common good beyond the economic advantage of
individuals, a good which degenerates neither into spiritless bureaucracy
nor into a coercive moralistic enthusiasm. Further, it must seek this good
not in the abstraction of what "ought to be" but in the ethical spirit which
has animated its history and successfully wedded revolution and stability in
6 The present argument thus sketches the logic of the development from
the Calvinism at the heart of American Puritanism to the Enlightenment
thought which underlies the U.S. Constitution in order to clarify the
relationship between religion and state in America. The course of this
development is from a subject whose freedom is accomplished for him through
the religious representation of divine activity, specifically grace, to a
subject who knows this freedom as the inward principle of his own
self-consciousness and its political enactment.(3)
7 In this development Puritanism transforms the Calvinist emphasis on
the divine reconciliation of particular desire and universal law by making
explicit the free activity of the human subject in conversion. Here the
Puritan subject, confident in his own inward freedom, becomes a religious
reflection of Enlightenment subjectivity, free in its relation both to its
own rationality and to its natural desires. This forms the subjective pole
of the development.
8 The objective pole likewise begins with a religious paradigm but has
as its concern not only individual freedom but also its communal expression.
The inward relation of the individual to the divine will (initially
conceived as total submission and obedience) provides a religious paradigm
for the political order. Absolute surrender, the content of faith, is held
to provide the model for the relation between the religious community and
the secular realm: as the individual submits to the divine, so too the
secular realm must be governed by the religious order.
9 From this starting point, the upshot of the participation of the
individual conscience in the divine plan comes increasingly to be conceived
in terms of the individual himself and his finite communal relations; the
common good no longer is seen to demand the sublimation of particular
individual interests but can be achieved through their expression.
10 The proceeding sections have the following content and logical form:
(1) Calvinism -- Human subjective freedom is subsumed by the divine will and
this union is upheld as an ideal from which we have fallen. This conception
of subjectivity has as its political correlate institutions the source of
whose authority is extraneous to the individual will in that they exist only
to correct it.
(2) Puritanism and Covenant Theology -- The covenant theology makes explicit
the importance of the individual's free assent in the reception of grace.
The development in the Puritan "covenant theology" asserts the free assent
of religious subjects as the finite moment of religious and political
legitimacy and establishes an explicitly rational basis for both realms.
(3) The Collapse of Puritanism and the Transition to Enlightenment Within
Puritanism there occurs a division between reason and nature which is
manifest in a general way in the division between the practices and
doctrines of Massachusetts and Connecticut. What is crucial in this
development as in Enlightenment thought is that the object of faith has been
thoroughly inwardized and thus an object of reason and experience.
(4) The American Revolution -- The human subject confident of itself as the
rational source of political legitimacy overturns arbitrary monarchic rule
but as revolutionary spirit finds expression in unstable institutions.
(5) The U.S. Constitution as Concrete Universal -- The revolutionary will
turns back on itself in a 'Calvinistic' reflection on its own limits. This
will is given stable form in a constitution which secures in political form
the reconciliation of the particular interests of free individuals with an
objective communal good. The Constitution is thus a rational sovereignty,
the free adherence to which overcomes the divisive technological and
moralistic moments which threaten the political life of the U.S..
(6) Conclusion: the Spirit of the Religious Clauses of the First Amendment
-- The present argument concludes with reflections on the First Amendment
which suggest that there is an establishment of religion in the United
States and that properly conceived this is consistent with the Constitution.
Further it is argued that in this light the free exercise clause should be
interpreted as granting religious exemptions from generally authoritative
11 Calvinism it must be noted is not a destruction of reason but its
subordination, with nature, to necessity in the form of divine
predestination.(5) It develops a concrete knowledge of God. In Calvin's
words: "not that knowledge which, content with idle speculation, merely
flits in the brain but that which will be sound and fruitful if one duly
perceive it and if it takes root in the heart."(6) On this view, the unity
of the rational and the natural, of head and heart, results in a practical
or moral wisdom, piety. For Calvin, it is idle to question what God is; what
is required is not speculation but reverence grounded in recognition and
worship of the divine majesty. This recognition is the result of reflection
upon divine law as expressed in the Commandments. In such reflection, the
Calvinist becomes aware not only of the sovereignty of God as the giver of
law but also of the poverty of the subject, in himself utterly unable to
fulfill the divine commands, the legacy of original sin which corrupts heart
12 For the subject thus estranged, the expression of God's mercy in
Christ amounts to a reward which is completely undeserved. According to
Calvin, human sinfulness casts us into the role of debtors, a debt which we
attempt to repay through obedience and faith. Thus: "he [God] therefore
yields his own right when he offers a reward."(8) This reward manifests
God's covenant with his people. In Calvinism the formula of this Covenant is
expressed in Leviticus: "I will be your God and you will be my people."(9)
Further, "He is our God on this condition: that he dwell among us as he has
testified to Moses."(10) Thus, the Calvinist conception of the covenant
gives rational form to the relationship between an austere deity and his
elect. On the objective side, the covenant expresses the universality of
God's promise and the eternal significance of his relation to humanity. On
the subjective side, there is the nascent sense of being chosen or elect.
13 So by contrast with Augustine's view that human memory, will, and
understanding are the image of God, Calvin finds the human reflection of
God's image in obedience: "God has so depicted his character in law that if
any man carries out in deeds whatever is enjoined there, he will express the
image of God as it were in his own life."(11) On the one hand, this
represents a purification of the subject's relation to the divine through
merely finite image. On the other hand, however, because such definition
does not make explicit the rational element of the human relation to God, it
portrays the subject's relation to God in a less than comprehensive manner.
On Calvin's account, in the moment of reconciliation with the divine both
reason and will are passive. The union with God then is merely immediate,
involving the dormancy of human reason and will in the divine activity. As
such, grace does not comprehend the rational and natural aspects of human
subjectivity but restrains them. Whereas Augustine's conception of the
divine image as memory, will and understanding contains, in the
understanding, a moment of rational reflection on conversion and the
relation of mind and will to God, Calvin, in asserting passivity,
de-emphasizes the significance of rational comprehension.
14 Nevertheless, Calvin, without infringing the primacy of the divine
will and predestination, indicates through the content of obedience an
objective criterion of one's reconciliation with God. He states: "because a
man does not easily maintain love in all respects unless he earnestly fears
God, here is proof also of his piety."(12) Further, "our life shall best
conform to God's will when it is in every respect most fruitful for our
brethren."(13) However, the objective limit of this conception is that it
finds institutional expression in a church which inadequately recognizes the
importance of the individual's rational assent and which thus asserts itself
as an authority over both the individual and the community.
15 On the subjective side, then, the moment of grace exhibits a less
complete appropriation of God's will than does man's state before the fall;
it is thus an abstraction from a prior more realized state.(14) Likewise, on
the objective side, the divine will itself achieves only abstract
determination: its spiritual doctrine achieves incomplete institutional
enactment. Hence, as Calvinist doctrine is not comprehensive of finite
individuality, so the church is not comprehensive of diverse human ends. As
such, the attempts by the church to govern the state will meet with
resistance, with rational rebellion against an authoritarian institution.
16 Accordingly, the state thus conceived exists in a merely instrumental
relation to the divine providence in which the subject finds his truth: it
is used to correct and punish the sinful individual. As such, the state
exists in an external relation to the human subject and the subject finds
his true relation to God, himself, and nature outside the state. It will
thus be unclear to individuals why they should subordinate themselves to a
state which is external to their inward relation to the divine. Thus a real
political spirit cannot be cultivated in this situation.
17 What is of great interest for the present argument is the sense of
individuality implicit in this Calvinistic inwardness. The dignity of the
individual consists in an ethical principle prior to all institutional
relations. While in its initial and abstract form this principle has the
shape of obedience, it also indicates the primacy of the individual
conscience, so far as the individual will is given over to the divine will.
2. Puritanism and Covenant Theology
18 Calvinism's abstract reconciliation of the rational and natural
interests of humanity breaks down into a division between Arminianism and
Antinomianism.(15) Arminians, Arminius himself in Holland and Laud in
England, criticized Calvinism for its destruction of moral rationality. On
their view, absolute predestination cannot ground moral obligation. If the
spiritual destiny of individuals is eternally preordained, what reasons,
other than those of the casuist, can ordinary people be given to perform
their duties? Arminians, then, asserted that the correct operation of human
reason and will is prerequisite to the reception of grace.
19 Antinomians, for example, Anabaptists, Quakers, Ranters, and
Levellers, criticized Calvinism because it provided no means by which
individuals could be assured they were elect. They asserted therefore that
union with God was immediate and did not require a special act of grace.
Thus, whereas Arminians downplayed the corruption of human reason and will,
Antinomians downplayed the corruption of human nature.
20  Puritanism as it developed in England and New England drew these
subjective moments back into relation to an objective divine providence.
However, the Puritan concept of the relation between God and humanity
achieved a more determinate comprehension of reason and nature than did
Calvinism, conceiving this relation, in its 'federal' theology, in terms of
covenant. Perry Miller puts it as follows: "Arminianism was a kind of
ethical rationalism that had lost a sense of piety, and Antinomianism was an
uncontrolled piety without the indispensable ballast of reason; Puritanism
looked upon itself as the synthesis of piety and reason, and the federal
Puritans looked upon the covenant theology as the perfection of that
21 The covenant theology transformed the Puritan conceptions of: (1) the
relation of the individual to God -- The Covenant of Grace; (2) the relation
of the individual to the church -- The Church Covenant; (3) the relation of
the individual and the church to the state -- The Social Covenant and; (4)
the relation of God the Father to God the Son -- The Redemption
Covenant.(17) Here the individual is recognized as a source of the
legitimacy of the relation to God in (1) and (4) and to institutions in (2)
22 The covenant of grace makes the activity of the individual an
essential element in conversion or regeneration. Though humanity has fallen
from an original and perfect relation to the divine, it is not thoroughly
vitiated. Prior to regeneration humans have at least that amount of goodness
which allows them voluntarily to accept divine grace. As Richard Sibbes puts
it: "Though God's grace do all yet we must give our consent."(18) Also John
Preston in his The New Covenant (1629) states: "Take heede of refusing the
acceptable time ... Beloued, there is a certaine acceptable time, when God
offers Grace, and after that hee offers it no more ...."(19) Individuals
thus have a voluntary and active role in obtaining their own salvation.
Covenant theology thus conceived conversion as a contract on equal terms
between parties in all other respects unequal. The covenant is a free gift
of God's mercy and is freely accepted by the individual. Further, both God
and the individual are bound by the covenant. John Preston states: "You may
sue him of his own bond written and sealed and he cannot deny it."(20)
23 No longer is sin conceived in ontological terms as an essential
corruption of human nature. Rather it is more explicitly defined in terms of
the moral activity of the free will. Whereas Calvin thoroughly subordinates
reason to divine predestination, finding in human nature innate corruption,
Preston, for example, finds in human nature an innate goodness. On his view,
both sense and reason are unpolluted. He states: "faith teaches nothing
contrary to reason, for sense and reason are God's works as well as
24 Puritanism thus achieves a practical reformulation of the
divine-human relationship emphasizing, to a greater degree than Calvinism,
the freedom, rationality, and moral capacity of individuals and the
perceivable regularity of the divine will circumscribed by the covenant.
Human activity does not therefore lie outside the divine principle but is
the finite prerequisite of the individual's relationship with the divine.
Moreover, abiding by the terms of the covenant gives the individual rights
against God himself and thus assurance of salvation.
25 In the individual's active participation in the divine work of his
own salvation is achieved a more determinate union of divine and human than
is available on strict Calvinism. Nevertheless, the Calvinist spirit though
modified is not overturned. For the Puritan, God is still conceived as
sovereign and in Himself unknowable but no longer appears arbitrary or
tyrannical in relation to humans. Further, while humanity continues to be
seen as fallen and sinful, it is not without rational and moral capacity.
And finally, while grace remains a special dispensation, it is thought not
to be opposed to human reason but rather to be its elevation.(22)
26 The finite activity of individuals is thus more completely reconciled
with the divine will. As a result, the Puritan has a more determinate sense
of his own inwardness as the essential spirit of religious and political
life. The individual recognizes in his own regenerate moral will the
foundation and legitimation of all practical institutions. Thus, the
individual in the finitude of his particular interests is not simply corrupt
and a mere falling away from the divine principle but contains within
himself the potential for more universal relations. Whereas the corrupt
individual of Calvinism can, in principle, welcome correction from an
external political order, which would impinge only upon a fallen
particularity, the Puritan, whose individuality is conceived as a concrete
union of reason and nature, finds in political coercion an infringement of
the universality implicit in the subject's own self-relation.
27 The development of the sense of human freedom through the Covenant of
Grace and the Church Covenant is at the heart of the Puritan conception of
political life in the Social Covenant. Congregationalism was the most unique
feature of New England Puritanism.(23) On this format, each town was centred
around a church whose membership was constituted by those who had given
proof that they were regenerate, who were party to the Covenant of Grace.
Church membership represented only one-fifth of the population --
four-fifths of the town were not church members.(24)
28 The Church Covenant was limited, then, to those who had visibly
accepted the Covenant of Grace and who were judged as sincere through
principles of rational charity. The Church Covenant is thus an institutional
expression of the inward covenant. Miller quotes a telling axiom of
Puritanism: "the Covenant of Grace is cloathed with Church-Covenant in a
Politicall visible way."(25) The Church Covenant gives institutional
recognition to the moral will of regenerate individuals.
29 The moral will, therefore, is seen as the source of church powers and
those elected by regenerate individuals are placed in charge of the
community at large. On the subjective side, individual freedom is thought to
be a necessary condition of political legitimacy. As John Winthrop states:
"No common weale can be founded but by free consent."(26) John Cotton
expresses the objective corollary: "It is necessary, therefore, that all
power that is on earth be limited, Church power or other."(27) Thus, the
moral will of the regenerate individual is no longer defined by obedience
alone but by political activity. In his inward self-reflection, the subject
participates not only in the divine will but in worldly institutions whose
objective basis is divine law and whose legitimation and limit is grounded
in the subject's moral will.
30 Nevertheless, the supreme political virtue for Puritans is obedience.
However, the power of the magistrate to whom obedience is due comes not only
from God but from the people. Moreover, as Winthrop argues in A Modell of
Christian Charity the magistrates are limited in three ways: (1) as members
of the church they are bound by the church covenant; (2) as freemen they are
bound by the social covenant to which they had sworn and; (3) As rulers they
are bound by the oaths of office and party to a covenant with the
3. The Collapse of Puritanism and the Transition to Enlightenment
31 The "federal" (or covenant) theology thus conceives divine-human and
individual-community relations in terms of contract. The communal covenants
of church and society are fundamentally subordinate to the subject's inward
relation to God in the Covenant of Grace. In this sense, there remains a
division between the individual and the determinate ethical order such that
institutional life is rendered unstable by the contingency of adherence. The
migration to Connecticut, May 1636, expresses this inherent contingency: an
element of society breaks away forming its own order, external to that of
Massachusetts. This renders Massachusetts one among many orders and as such
not the universal fulfilment of God's plan. This fragmentation was not
compatible with its place as a "city on the hill".
32 In the division between the Massachusetts and Connecticut
communities, a division which originates in the contractual division between
the individual will and the social order, one finds a development of the
implicit democratic tendencies of Puritanism. Thomas Hooker, pastor of the
Newtown congregation which moved to Connecticut, developed the notion of
preparation to include virtually all inhabitants. Whereas John Cotton would
restrict church membership to those who were found worthy, upon examination
by magistrates, Hooker emphasized that one could not tell who was reprobate
and who was not.(29) Hence, in the Survey, Hooker defined the qualifications
for church membership with generous latitude. He argued that if one
professes faith, does not live openly in sin, has some knowledge and can
give some reason of his hope, "these be grounds of probabilities, by which
Charity poised according to rule may and ought to conceive, there be some
beginnings of spirituall good."(30)
33 Nevertheless, dwindling church membership drew both sides of the New
England spirit together in acceptance of an expansion of the Church
Covenant, what is called the Half-Way Covenant. In the Half-Way Covenant,
the Synod of 1662 changed earlier restrictive requirements for church
membership. While New England had admitted the children of adult members to
baptism, assuming they would later "own" the covenant through a profession
of faith, it had required of adult members understanding, good behaviour
and, most importantly, an experience of conversion. But this left many
outside church membership, the children of those who were baptised but had
not yet received faith. Edmund Morgan succinctly expresses the change
wrought by the Synod: "It meant that if a person born and baptised in the
church did not receive faith he could still continue his membership and have
his own family baptised, by leading a life free of scandal, by learning and
professing the doctrines of Christianity and by making a voluntary
submission to God and his Church."(31)
34 However, in the further reflection upon the Half-Way Covenant by
Increase and Cotton Mather and John Stoddard, spiritual leaders of
Massachusetts and Connecticut respectively, one finds an important division
in the New England mind. Stoddard was struck by the fact that while the
Half-Way Covenant enlarged the congregation, it diminished the number of
those who were full church members, namely those who partook in the Lord's
supper.(32) Increase Mather took a different perspective on the situation.
In 1679 he bemoaned the fact that the distinction between those who partook
in the Half-Way Covenant, and those in the town who did not, had diminished
to the point that there seemed little difference between one who was and one
who was not in covenant with God.
35 The issue, then, for both was to invigorate and revive the religious
spirit of citizens in the face of an emergent secularism. The Mathers
re-emphasized the contractual nature of the covenant and its rational
components. Increase Mather admitted that the founders had based their idea
of the covenant not only upon the bible but also upon nature and reason.(33)
From this side, the importance of subjective consent was stressed and
defined in terms of innate principles of reason and morality. In 1700 Cotton
Mather published Reasonable Religion in which he states: "The power of
reason is Natural to the Soul of Man."(34) For Mather, while the truths of
revelation are higher than reason they are not contrary to it.(35) In his
later work Manuductio ad Ministerium (1726) he went so far as to state that
principles of morality are innate and "as Plain, as Clear, as Undeniable, as
any that are purely Mathematical."(36) As spelled out in his 1710
Bonifacius. An Essay Upon the Good that is to be Devised, Mather saw the
development of piety to be the work of rational individuals and groups who
through social pressure would exhort citizens to moral action. In this way
Mather sought to reconcile the divisions born of an emerging capitalist
economy, the doctrine of individual rights, and the toleration enforced by
the Crown. From their own particular standpoints, the divided interests of
society, through pious action, would realize a common good and thus uphold
the divinely ordered gradations of the Puritan state.(37) Solomon Stoddard,
the "dictator of Connecticut", was far more sceptical of the rational and
moral power of the human mind. He rejected the Half-Way Covenant and indeed
the whole structure of the 'federal theology' as it had been defined in
Massachusetts. By contrast with the view of the Mathers which defined the
covenant as a contract whose terms were discernable by reason, Stoddard
returned to the Calvinist doctrine of the covenant as command and asserted
that grace could be known only in the inward intuition of grace itself.(38)
For Stoddard, God's grace was dispensed on the basis of His sovereign and
inscrutable will which remained impenetrable to the human mind. He states:
"The only reason why God sets his love on one man and not another is because
he pleases." Further: "He exercises grace freely from His Sovereign Will and
36 Because no human can rationally discern sainthood, Stoddard argued,
the gates to church membership should be opened to all. Though he was
critical of the Church Covenant, arguing both that it could not be derived
from reason and that it was unscriptural, Stoddard nevertheless upheld the
communal covenant and in Miller's words: "He treated the congregation and
virtually the whole town (there were still a few resolute sinners) as the
Church; at one stroke he cut his way through the maze of the covenants by
identifying the church not with a society of saints but with the town
meeting -- where he himself was dictator."(40) Although Stoddard's abolition
of the "oligarchic rule of the elect" contains democratic implications he
was also quick to suppress these. By contrast with the congregationalist
view in which control remained with the local church, Stoddard organized the
churches in western Massachusetts into "consociations" based on the
Presbyterian model, and ruled this as a "Protestant Pope".(41)
37 Thus one finds in the central theological-social debates in New
England, basic components of the revolutionary spirit which animated the
American colonies in 1776, yet at this stage of their development defined in
opposition to each other and secured by authoritarian social orders. On the
one hand, one finds a conception of the individual as a subject whose
rational spirit finds expression in the social order. The Mather's, even in
expanding the rational capabilities of the individual, nevertheless
conceived them as tied to a pre-modern social hierarchy. On the other hand,
Stoddard while asserting the "equality" of all individuals under God, at
least so far as rational social discriminations could not be made on the
basis of grace, nevertheless stabilized this democratic impulse through his
own dictatorial authority. In each community the seeds of democracy are
present but do not yet permeate the social order in which they take root.
The further development of the "New England mind" suggests how, in its own
pre-modern way, Puritanism increasingly emphasized the subjective principle
which animates the American Revolution and which leads to the collapse of
Puritanism itself. The contrast between the views of Charles Chauncey and
Jonathan Edwards is instructive.
38 Following his precursors Wise and Mayhew, Chauncey brings to fruition
the rationalism implicit in the covenant theology. In Massachusetts, John
Wise, more radically democratic than the Mathers, was also more
rationalistic. Through emphasizing the direct connection between God and
natural reason, Wise eliminates the priority of Scripture; it becomes a
secondary confirmation of propositions known by reason alone.(42) Jonathan
Mayhew marks a further step in this development. As Miller argues, with
Mayhew: "The purposes of society are no longer the deity's, but the
subject's."(43) What is important here is the well-being of citizens.
Charles Chauncey reinterprets religion in this rationalistic light. For
Chauncey, true religion: "approves itself to the Understanding and
Conscience, ... and is in the best Manner calculated to promote the Good of
mankind."(44) From this secularized religion arose both the rejection of the
Westminister Confession and the birth of Unitarianism. Theologically liberal
but socially conservative this rationalism represents one side of the
collapse of the Puritan view.
39 In 1729 Jonathan Edwards succeeded his grandfather Solomon Stoddard
as the theological leader of Connecticut and western Massachusetts.(45)
Edwards, intensifying the doctrine of grace, reasserted what he conceived as
the Calvinist spirit of Puritanism. He: (1) rejected the judicial
interpretation of original sin; (2) declared God unfettered by agreement or
obligation; (3) made grace irreversible and; (4) annihilated man's natural
40 For Edwards as the result of the Fall, humans are utterly devoid of
the "spiritual principles" which enable one to love God. As a result, one is
captive of the "natural principles" and unable to overcome one's natural
desires and self-love. He sees grace, however, as a partial restoration of
the spiritual principles. Utilizing Lockean psychology, Edwards describes
grace as the gift of a new sense or as the reception of a new simple idea.
To be given a new sense is to be able to perceive the love and beauty of
God, actually to love God. For Edwards, grace is not itself a simple idea
but rather allows one to perceive the new simple idea, that is, God's
presence in human consciousness.(47)
41 It can thus be seen that the positions advanced by Unitarians and
Edwardsians are not mere opposites. Rather both presuppose that God is to be
found in the immediate data of consciousness in the innate ideas of natural
law and the simple idea conferred by grace respectively. Likewise, both in
varying degrees redeem human reason and nature: Unitarians through the
denial of original sin and Edwards through his Lockean reinterpretation of
the Calvinistic doctrine of Grace.(48) On the Unitarian view, the subject,
thus restored, looks to logic to discover truth, while on Edwards' view he
looks to the evidence of experience. But what is of significance in both
views, is that the truth is immediately present to the subject's
consciousness. The implicit political determination of this doctrine finds
legitimacy in no authority which does not somehow emanate from and secure
the right of subjectivity.(49)
42 Thus, there is an identical spirit at work in Puritanism and in
Enlightenment: one from the side of faith, one from the side of pure
rational insight; two aspects of the one subjectivity whose democratic
enactment is the basis of the revolutions of the time.
4. The American Revolution
43 The division of Puritanism into two complementary but opposed
doctrines, roughly deism and evangelicalism, is the religious form of the
dual moments of the Enlightenment spirit, rationalism and empiricism. What
is common among these forms of self-consciousness is the individual's inward
confidence that knowledge is found nowhere but in the subject's own reason
and experience. By contrast with the doctrine of Calvin, this reconciliation
of divine and finite is seen to occur not simply in the divine substance but
also in and for human subjectivity. James Doull argues that for the
Calvinist the division and unification of the natural and sensuous nature of
the subject was "received as the movement of the trinitarian idea." By
contrast, in Enlightenment thought the division and the process of
unification is referred to the subject itself.(50) Thus, John Wise adheres
to the concept of natural law and Jonathan Edwards treats of grace as a
simple idea, the former reflecting Descartes's emphasis on innate ideas, the
latter reflecting Locke's emphasis on simple ideas. In a more developed form
this is a revolutionary subjectivity which would overturn all merely
external restrictions of its freedom. The politicized Cartesian subject
asserts itself as the principle of political legitimacy.(51)
44 The empiricist Lockean subject gives primary enactment of this
confidence in the right to property. Whereas the Calvinist obtains merely an
inward freedom through the unwarranted gift of divine grace, the Lockean
subject obtains the practical guarantee of his political liberty through the
appropriation of property. What is originally God's gift "to all in common"
is appropriated by individuals and divided into several parts. (52) The
individual's property is not merely a gift but is also the product of his
own activity, of having "mixed his Labour with, and joyned to it something
that is his own."(53) Further, property is here conceived in a broad sense
to include "Lives, Liberties and Estates" and the purpose of government is
conceived as the preservation of property.(54)
45 The rallying cry of the Revolution, "No taxation without
representation", thus expresses Americans' experience of a difference in
British and American interests which poses a threat to the concrete freedom
they obtain in the security of their property. In the argument of Daniel
Dulany this difference in American and British interests makes virtual
representation impossible. Developed to its logical conclusion, this
difference makes political union itself impossible.(55) Moreover, the
British insistence on an identical authority over legislation and taxation
aids in the American deduction: Britain has no right to tax. Thus if
legislation and taxation are equivalent, it follows that they have no right
to legislate.(56) Further, by executing an arbitrary and absolute power over
the colonies, the British parliament was thus formally identical to an
absolute monarch. And this identification reflects negatively on King
46 The subject's right to property thus places limits on governmental
action and implies a continuation of the Puritan opposition to absolute
monarchic power. The great Puritan John Cotton states: "It is necessary
therefore that all power that is on earth be limited, Church power or
other....(58) Compare a newspaper article which appeared in response to the
Stamp Act: "No Parliament can alter the Nature of Things or make that good
which is really evil .... There is certainly some Bounds to their Power and
'tis Pity they were not more certainly known."(59)
47 The work of the Founding Fathers was thus to limit government in
terms compatible with the freedom of the property-owning, moral subject; a
freedom known in both political and religious terms.(60) The Declaration of
Independence indicates why it is that the British system does not contain
sufficient limitations. As James Young puts it:
The form of the Declaration is clearly that of a large-scale,
Lockean syllogism. The famous second paragraph states the premises
of the argument. It begins with the assertion of self evident
truths that all men are created equal and are possessed of certain
inalienable rights, notably `life, liberty and the pursuit of
happiness.' Governments are said to be created to secure these
rights and to derive their power from the consent of the governed.
If government becomes destructive of these ends, a right inheres
in the people to alter or abolish it and to institute a new one in
The body of the Declaration that follows is basically a long list
of grievances against King George III. These grievances are said
to be violations of natural rights and the doctrine of consent,
thus leading inevitably to the conclusion that a severance of ties
linking Crown to colonises is justified.(61)
48 The unity emergent in the common struggle against Britain and in the
attempt to articulate its justification is given institutional form in the
Articles of Confederation. The Articles were in place from the end of the
Revolution to the ratification of the Constitution in 1787. The Articles
unified the states in an external manner allowing each state to retain its
sovereign individuality, any power not explicitly given to the U.S. Congress
being retained by the states.
5. The Constitution as Concrete Universal
49 The development of the U.S. Constitution arises from a twofold
negation: (1) of the Articles of Confederation (2) of the legislative
tyranny of state governments. The impetus in each case, however, is not
merely the rejection of the institutional results of the revolution but also
a gradual recognition of the supremacy of the people and the positive
impetus to realize this sovereignty in reformed institutions. The unity
between the subject's reason and nature, that is, between the universal
divine order and the finite human will, achieved initially in religious
representation, is now given adequate political enactment.
50 Alexander Hamilton among others made explicit the limits of the
Articles of Confederation. The central defect was that, according to the
Articles, the federal government was not directly related to individuals but
merely to state governments. As a result, Congress could raise neither men
nor money by direct conscription or taxation of individuals but relied on
the states' fulfilment of various congressional requisitions. With "neither
troops, nor treasury, nor government" the security of the Confederation and
of freedom of individuals was in question.(62)
51 Individuals thus had a more stable allegiance to their particular
states, which they knew as the basis of the security of life and property
and whose authority they knew in the sanction of law and taxation, than they
had to the federal government. So long, therefore, as the primary division
was between state-government and Congress, the people's loyalty remained
with the state. Hence Hamilton's description of the Confederation: "Each
state yielding to the persuasive voice of immediate interest has
successively withdrawn its support till the frail and tottering edifice
seems ready to fall upon our heads and crush us beneath its ruins."(63)
52 However, just as the Confederation could not bring institutional
stability to the revolutionary will, so too a division emerged between state
legislatures and the will of the people. State legislatures engaged in paper
money schemes and enacted laws which confiscated property and suspended
established ways of debt collection. Private property, the determinate
expression of individual freedom, thus became insecure and the legislative
expression of the people's will, so far as it was in opposition to the
subjective freedom which is its basis, appeared as capricious and arbitrary
as that of a monarch.(64) As Madison stated: "The legislative department is
everywhere extending its activity and drawing all power into its impetuous
vortex."(65) Here the Revolution had turned back on itself, destroying the
institutions which gave stability to its will and making its freedom
vulnerable to outside interests, those of other states or foreign
53 In critical reflection upon the defects of the Articles of
Confederation and upon the tyranny of state legislatures there was, thus,
the deeply felt need of institutional reform. As abstracted from its
contemporary political structures, the revolutionary freedom of Americans
returned to the unified will forged in opposition to British Dominion. This
will, however, was now mediated not merely by the negation of external
dominion but likewise by the negation of its own incomplete political forms,
specifically The Articles and the priority of particular states which it
sustained. Madison among others made clear that only republican government
could give institutional enactment to this mediated freedom while remaining
true to the character of the American people, the fundamental principles of
the revolution, and self-government.(67)
54 As conceived by the Framers, all government, federal and state, was
grounded in the universal will of the people. As Hamilton states: "The
fabric of American empire ought to rest on the solid basis of CONSENT OF THE
PEOPLE. The streams of national power ought to flow immediately from that
pure original fountain of all authority."(68) But the will of the people was
divided between the universal identity of all Americans and their particular
identities as members of the various states. In conceptualizing the
republican institutions which would make determinate the concrete freedom of
Americans and unify its relations to federal and state government, the major
difficulty with which the framers wrestled was that of faction, specifically
the threat that a majority faction would dominate the state and coerce the
rights of the minority.
55 What was required was a self-differentiated union of universal and
particular interests, not the dominion variously of one over the other. In
comprehending the whole of the individual's political life, the Constitution
would operate directly on all citizens, thus achieving national government
while leaving substantial jurisdiction to the states and maintaining a
federal character.(69) Moreover, as the legislature tends to predominance in
republican government, it would be divided into Senate and House of
Representatives.(70) Further, the President would have veto power over acts
of the legislature -- "an indispensable barrier against the encroachments of
the latter upon the former."(71) Finally, as Hamilton contends, the
judiciary would be: "designed to be an immediate body between the people and
the legislature in order, among other things, to keep the latter within the
limits assigned to their authority."(72) But neither the executive nor the
judiciary would, in principle, be superior to the legislature. As Madison
states: "The several departments being perfectly coordinate by the terms of
their common commission, neither of them, it is evident, can pretend to an
exclusive or superior right of settling the boundaries between their
respective powers."(73) All authority comes from the people and as each
department is grounded in the popular will, all are, in principle, equal.
56 Thus, the Constitution draws together the elements of universality
and particularity which could not be given secure determination in
Puritanism. The stability of law was unified with the democratic rebellion
which reigned in the former colonies. In the Constitution, the individual's
inward self-relation, conceived in its universality as the will of the
people, is given determinate objective form. One finds in it not a mere
correction of a fallen individuality but the enactment of a subjectivity
confident of itself as the source of political legitimacy. There is room
both for the universal will and for the particular interests of individuals
in their private pursuits. The basis of this confidence is the recognition
that the particular will is not a mere falling away from the universal but
essential to its concretion. In a Madisonian pluralism, the common good
arises out of the division and clash of particular interests; indeed on this
view, given the division of interests, a majority could coalesce only around
principles of justice and the general good.(74)
57 However, the common good is not contingent upon the particularity
whence it emerges. Rather, it becomes objective for the multiplicity of
subjective wills, comprehensive of their difference. Madison states: "The
regulation of these various and interfering interests forms the principal
task of modern legislation and involves the spirit of party and faction in
the necessary and ordinary operations of government."(75) Yet, in its
comprehension of competing interests, the constitution does not eliminate
differences but maintains them in dynamic relation, securing its own
stability by turning ambition against ambition.(76) Here the Enlightenment
faith in the immediate goodness of the individual is returned to a more
Calvinist reflection on the need to correct man's depravity. In the words of
George Washington: "We have probably had too good an opinion of human nature
in forming our confederation."(77) Madison's 'auxiliary precautions' are
born of the recognition that men are neither angels nor ruled by angels.
Madison states: "In framing a government which is to be administered by men
over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the
government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to
control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control
on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of
58 But in this renewed recognition of original sin the redemption of the
individual consists neither in abstraction from the world, in an inward
submission to the divine, nor in suffering correction from an external
authority. In the Constitution, the correction of the subject's inward
freedom consists not in submission but in objective enactment -- the subject
does not retreat from the world to an abstract inner unity but realizes this
unity in concrete relation to others. Thus, the constitution embodies a
fundamentally Christian recognition of the unity of reason and nature.
Natural self-interest and rational principles of justice are conceived, not
as irremediably opposed, but as mutually sustaining moments of a whole. The
will of the people is given rational form in the Constitution which in turn
rests on the people's sovereign will. But as Madison is clear, neither
element exists in separation from the other: in abstraction from each other,
both the raw will of the majority and the rule of law are equally
destructive of freedom.
6. Conclusion: The Spirit of the Religious Clauses of the First Amendment
59 One thus finds in the U.S. Constitution an expression of the
objective principles of freedom, a necessary content which both limits and
enacts individual freedom. To be free in a universal and rational manner,
the individual must will the objective constitutional structure which makes
freedom possible. The principles of the Constitution embody the Christian
reconciliation of reason and nature, of the individual's universal and
particular interests. In the words of Mark DeWolfe Howe this amounts to a
"de facto establishment of religion".(79)
60 But religion is established not as a particular sect but in terms of
the universal principle of freedom implicit in Christian representation and
given concrete institutional form in the U.S. Constitution. Contemporary
commentators have lost sight of the principles common to religious and
political life. One finds a tendency to treat religion either as a matter of
individual conscience or of choice, each of which ignores the common ethical
objectivity present both in the Constitution and for the conscientious
religious believer. As a result the difference of religious conscience from
abstract individual conscience is lost, with a resulting criticism of
special exemptions for religion.(80)
61 A return to the intentions of the framers and the concrete principles
of the U.S. Constitution suggests a correction of this contemporary view.
What is remarkable in the views of the framers is that each of the competing
interpretations of the relation of church and state expresses from its own
standpoint not only the distinction between religious and secular realms but
also the existence of a unifying principle.(81)
62  Starting from a Lockean position which radically separates church
and state, Jefferson moves to a position of universal Unitarianism, where
the separation of church and state dissolves, each realm conceived as
grounded in the rational powers of the ethical individual. Whereas Jefferson
would separate church and state to defend against irrational enthusiasm, he
also expected a Unitarian conquest of irrational religion. He states: "I
rejoice that in this country of free inquiry and belief, which has
surrendered its creed and conscience to neither kings nor priests, the
genuine doctrine of one only God is reviving, and I trust that there is not
a young man now living in the United States who will not die a
Unitarian."(82) One might say that Jefferson expected an establishment of
Unitarianism based upon the free will of individuals, not upon state
63 By contrast with Jefferson, who pursued the question from the
standpoint of the rationally free citizen who had not given up his right of
conscience, the evangelical standpoint stressed that the source of one's
religious views lies not in the individual's rational morality but in the
commands of a sovereign God. From the evangelical side, the separation of
church and state was not intended to protect the state from enthusiasm but
rather to protect religion from secular corruption.(83) However, from the
standpoint of faith they also conceived a unity between the two realms,
recognizing God as sovereign in both.
64 James Madison in his Memorial and Remonstrance brought these
standpoints together, recognizing both the need to prevent religious warfare
and oppression and to permit individuals to follow absolute duties. On a
Madisonian view, then, there is an important reciprocity between religious
and political life. On the one hand, the state can provide substantial
protection for the free practice of religious duty, while on the other hand,
religious ethics can promote virtue among citizens. Perhaps the most famous
statement of this principle is by Washington: "of all the dispositions and
habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are
indispensable supports ... And let us with caution indulge the supposition
that morality can be maintained without religion."(84)
65 Madison, in fact, contends that the duty to God is "precedent both in
order of time and in degree of obligation to the claims of civil
society."(85) However, while Madison accepted the priority of divine
commands in times of conflict between religion and state, his position is
intelligible only if one recognize that he assumes a general agreement
between the claims of religion and the claims of the state -- government
would be impossible if there were a radical separation between
constitutional and divine law.
66 What underlies the standpoint of the Constitution and its relation to
religion is the recognition of an objective good which comprehends the
universal and particular expressions of the individual's will. The
Constitution reconciles the rational and natural interests of the
individual; the goods of government and religion do not contradict but are,
in principle, identical. Still, politics and religion in their finite
interests, as a particular government or sect, may indeed conflict. In a
situation of conflict, both religion and state are rendered abstract or
one-sided and either may be on the side of justice or injustice. In such
instances, a standpoint compatible with the spirit of the U.S. Constitution
will not subordinate religious interests to those of government, assuming
government to be comprehensive. Rather, under the free exercise clause of
the First Amendment, it will permit exemptions which enable believers to
enact their religious duties.(86) These exemptions recognize the
universality implicit in religious practice and give expression to the
underlying identity of constitutional and religious principles. They uphold
the awareness that in times of conflict -- either side may be untrue to
their concrete identity.
67 From the side of the state (conceived in abstraction from religion),
these exemptions might be conceived as giving the individual the opportunity
to develop on his own terms a greater allegiance to the broader
socio-political realm. From the side of religion (conceived in abstraction
from the state), these exemptions permit the practice of duties owed to a
superior power. What is implicit in the Constitution is the unity of
universal ethical law, in both its political and religious moments, with the
particularity of legislative act and religious representation.
68 The ethical principle of the U.S. Constitution is the reconciliation
of individual's universal moral will and particular self-interest. These
principles, though religious in origin, cannot be appropriated on the basis
of sectarian religious viewpoints, but must be comprehended philosophically
as the universal political enactment of self-conscious freedom. To
invigorate their contemporary ethical life, Americans must not retreat to a
standpoint prior to modernity, to fundamentalist religion, but must reflect
more deeply on the fundamental principles and determinate history of their
University of King's College
1. Cf. for example Ronald Dworkin, Taking Rights Seriously,(Cambridge:
Harvard University Press, 1977) and David Richards, Toleration and the
Constitution,(New York: Oxford University Press, 1986).
2. Cf. for example, Michael Sandel, Democracy's Discontent: America In
Search of a Public Philosophy (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1996)
and William Galston, Liberal Purposes: Goods, Virtues, Diversity in the
Liberal State,(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991).
3. A fuller treatment than permitted by the confines of this essay would
show the transformation as it occurred in various colonies, especially
4. The 'religious clauses' of the first amendment state: "Congress shall
make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free
5. Cf. Calvin, Inst. I,I,2 where it is argued that knowledge of self and
nature result from God's grace.
6. Calvin, Inst. I,V,9.
7. For Calvin:"[the mind] conceives desires and undertakes only that which
is impious, perverted, foul, impure and infamous. The heart is so steeped in
the poison of sin that it can breathe out nothing but a loathsome
stench.(Inst.II,V,19) Cf. also Inst.II,viii,3.
8. Calvin, Inst. II, viii,4.
9. Calvin, Inst., II,x,8; Lev.26.12.
10. Calvin, Inst. II,x,8; Lev. 26.11.
11. Inst., II,viii,51. Cf, also Inst. I, xv,4 and Augustine The Trinity, X,
11- 12; XIV,4,6,8; XV,21.
12. Inst. II,viii,52.
14. For Calvin: "God's image is the perfect excellence of human nature which
shone in Adam before his defection" but which was blotted out by the Fall.
Inst. I, xv,4.
15. Here I follow the suggestion of Perry Miller. Antinomianism, however, is
not an entirely precise term. Perry Miller, The New England Mind: The
Seventeenth Century, Vol.I (Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1939, 1982)
16. New England Mind I, 373.
17. The present argument does not consider the covenant of redemption which
stresses Christ's voluntary acceptance of his `cross' and the Father's
pledge to discharge humanity of its sin. Cf. New England Mind I, 407-9, 411,
18. In Perry Miller, Errand in the Wilderness (New York: Harper and Row,
1956) p. 84.
19. Errand: 85.
20. New England Mind I, 389.
21. In Errand, 76.
22. Cf. Perry Miller (ed), The Puritans, Vol. I (New York: Harper and Row,
1939, 1963) p. 39.
23. New England Mind I, 433.
24. It is remarkable that only one-fifth offered themselves as regenerate.
Miller contends that "They were honest people and found it difficult to
romanticize about themselves -- even when they desperately wanted to."
25. New England Mind I, 447.
26. In New England Mind I, 408.
27. In Errand, 43.
28. New England Mind I, 424.
29. Perry Miller, The New England Mind: From Colony to Province, Vol.II
(Boston: Beacon Press, 1953, 1961) p.74.
30. New England Mind II, 76.
31. Edmund S. Morgan, Visible Saints: The History of the Puritan Idea
(Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1974) p.131.
32. New England Mind II, 115. Miller indicates that the duties required of
full communicants were too onerous for most citizens. They were thus
satisfied if they could obtain baptism for their children. New England Mind
33. New England Mind I, 255.
34. New England Mind II, 419.
35. New England Mind II, 422.
36. New England Mind II, 435.
37. Cf. New England Mind II, Chapter XXIV.
38. New England Mind I, 283.
39. New England Mind I, 233.
40. New England Mind II, 227.
41. Cf. Perry Miller, "Solomon Stoddard, 1643-1729," Harvard Theological
Review 34 (1941) 277-320 and Elizabeth Flower and Murray Murphey, A History
of Philosophy in America Vol. I (New York: Capricorn Books, 1977) p. 139.
42. Puritans I, 193.
43. Puritans I, 194. The extent of Stoddard's domination of the Connecticut
Valley was remarkable, and all the moreso in that it was exercised from
44. In Errand, 193.
45. History of Philosophy in America, 140.
46. Errand, 98.
47. History of Philosophy in America, 180-82.
48. Edwards believed in a partial restoration of the spiritual principles of
man which had been lost in the fall. Cf. History of Philosophy in America,
49. For a discussion of the logic of Enlightenment cf. F.L. Jackson, "The
Paradoxical Idealism of Enlightenment" Dionysius, Vol.1, (Dec. 1977):
50. James Doull, "Faith and Enlightenment" Dionysius, Vol.X (Dec. 1986) p.
51. Cartesian here applies to both Descartes' and Locke's concept of the
52. John Locke Two Treatises on Government, ed. Peter Laslett (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1988) II,V,25-6.
53. Locke, Two Treatises, II,v,27.
54. Locke, Two Treatises, II,ix,123-24.
55. Cf. Edmund S. Morgan, The Birth of the Republic, 1763-89 (Chicago:
University of Chicago Press, 1977) p. 123.
56. Cf. Morgan, Birth, 44.
57. For example, Thomas Paine incorporates scripture and Locke in his
denunciation both of the King and of the principle of monarchy. He states:
"How impious is the title of sacred majesty applied to a worm, who in the
midst of his splendour is crumbling into dust." Thomas Paine, "Common Sense"
in Political Writings (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989) p.9. Cf.
also pp. 8-15.
58. Miller, Errand, 43.
59. In Morgan, Birth, 23.
60. Cf. Puritans I, pp. 193-4 for a discussion of the revolutionary
implications of ministers Barnard and Jonathan Mayhew . Also cf. pp 277-80
for Jonathan Mayhew's 1750 sermon A Discourse Concerning Unlimited
61. James P. Young, Reconsidering American Liberalism (Boulder: Westview
Press, 1996) pp.44-5.
62. Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, James Madison, The Federalist Papers (ed)
Clinton Rossiter, (Chicago: Mentor Books) Section 15.
Hereafter references will refer to the author responsible for the specific
section, title and section number.
63. Hamilton, Federalist, 15. For example various states ignored the
nation's treaties with foreign countries, waged war on the Indians, built
their own navies, and refused to fulfill national requisitions. Cf. Morgan,
64. Cf. Gordon Wood, The Creation of the American Republic 1776-1787,
(Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1969) pp. 403-9.
Morgan states: "Rhode Island where a wildly depreciating paper currency had
been made legal tender, was the notorious example. Hordes of happy debtors
were paying off their obligations in worthless paper, leaving their
creditors bankrupt." Morgan, Birth, 124.
65. Madison, Federalist, 48.
66. Hamilton, Federalist, 6.
67. Madison, Federalist, 39.
68. Hamilton, Federalist, 22.
69. Madison, Federalist, 39.
70. Madison, Federalist, 51.
71. Hamilton, Federalist, 66.
72. Hamilton, Federalist, 78.
73. Madison, Federalist, 49.
74. Madison, Federalist, 51.
75. Madison, Federalist, 10.
76. Madison, Federalist, 51.
77. Washington to Jay, Aug. 15, 1786 in Wood, Creation, 472.
78. Madison, Federalist, 51.
79. Mark DeWolfe Howe, The Garden and the Wilderness (Chicago: University of
Chicago Press, 1965) p.11.
80. Cf. the excellent historical analysis of this First Amendment question
in Michael W. McConnell's "The Origins and Historical Understanding of Free
Exercise of Religion", Harvard Law Review, Volume 103, Number 7 (1990)
81. This indicates the limits of John Rawls's account of the relation
between religion and the state. On his account, the liberal state transforms
individuals' religious, moral and philosophical views in an external manner
and thus makes possible a consensus on a liberal conception of justice. By
contrast, the present argument suggests that the relation between religion
and state is grounded in a common rational spirit. Cf. John Rawls, Political
Liberalism, (New York: Columbia University Press, 1993)
pp. 159, 160, 160n25, 163.
82. Letter from Thomas Jefferson to Dr. Benjamin Waterhouse (June 26, 1803)
in McConnell, "Origins", 1450.
83. Cf. McConnell, "Origins", 1437-1443.
84. Washington's "Farewell Address" (Sept. 17, 1796) in McConnell,
85. James Madison, Memorial and Remonstrance in McConnell, "Origins", 1453.
86. These exemptions must be subject to the proviso that the duties they
protect must not violate human rights and dignity. Such violations
contradict the spirit which animates the Constitution.
Source : mun.ca