In the 1760s the government of Poland persecuted and targeted the Jews. Desiring freedom, most of them fled the country and traveled throughout Europe. One of those Jews was a man by the names of Haym Salomon (1740–1785), who believed America to be a country where Jewish people could safely live. It has been noted by different historians that a number of Jews played significant roles in the founding of the American nation, men like Francis Salvador, a Jew who was the first patriot to be killed in Georgia.
In Charleston, South Carolina, almost every adult Jewish male fought on the side of freedom. Many historians believe that had it not been for the faithful efforts of Haym Salomon and other Jews, things would have turned out differently.
Not only did Salomon use personal finances to provide interest free loans to James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, and numerous other public figures, he also personally paid the salaries of some government officials and army officers. He was twice arrested by the British, who suspected him of being a spy, and was thrown into a disease-infested prison where he became ill, probably with the tuberculosis that later claimed his life.
Virtually all of the delegates of the Constitutional Convention knew Haym Salomon. Six of the delegates had long been dependent on his generosity for their own livelihoods or for the maintenance of the particular government function for which they were responsible. James Madison, the future president, sought out Salomon. Madison’s papers record his indebtedness to the Jewish financier, who refused both a note and interest.
Though Article 6 dispelled the cloud of bigotry and gave freedom of each of the American people to express their individual faith according to the dictates of their own hearts, we should not forget that it was the same that opened the door for Jews, Muslims, and other non-Christians to serve in official governmental capacities. It became the initial means by which America was transformed from a monotheistic Christian nation to a polytheistic one. Article 6 and the First Amendment’s impact upon equal rights for American Jews is summed up by Michael Alexander:
Although the Constitution of the United States does not specifically mention Jews, its religious liberty provisions in essence granted Jews the honor of citizenship. The United States was thus the first non-Jewish country, ancient or modern, that included Jews as political equals. The Constitution of the United States prohibited a religious test for government (Article VI), and the First Amendment prohibited Congress from establishing any religion, thus permuting Jews to participate as equal citizens on the federal level. By 1820, most state constitutions eliminated religious qualifications that had kept Jews from participating in public affairs and government office.
Author Ted Weiland, called it a “compromise is a journey halfway down the road to surrender…. Though many Christians today laud the constitutional idea of freedom of religion, which allows gods other than God to be worshipped in America. Thanks to Article 6 and so-called Christians then and now, the ambassadors of those other gods are now government leaders who are helping to establish their god’s morality as the laws of the nation.”
The ban on the Religious Test Clause was not because the federal test was deemed unnecessary in light of the states’ constitutions, but instead to pave the way for deists, atheists, and even anti-Christians to hold public office. It was not the intent of the constitutional framers to leave the decision of religion solely to the states.
While it is true that the prime motivation for the two religious clauses found in the Constitution appears to have been liberty of conscience in religious matters, the framers were not opposed to non-Christian or even antichrist religions. The framers had liberty for all religions in mind when they forbade Christian test oaths, as evidenced in their writings.
This compromise led to a more secular state that replaced piety as the spirit of science fostered critical thinking and rationalism. What followed was the unequal yoking with other religious beliefs and following Jesus Christ, and Christian test oaths were considered religious extremism and fundamentalism. God’s eternal principles were slowly replaced by an atmosphere of open-mindedness and tolerance, and it became more acceptable for faith to assume different forms.
The Enlightenment preached the sacredness of every individual—a principle that would become a cornerstone of the American democratic ideal that all men are created equal, and that their Creator endows them with certain unalienable rights.
Marquis de Lafayette, who fought with the colonists during the American Revolution, wrote the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen, which was adopted by the French National Assembly on August 16, 1789—a document that served as the key philosophic foundation of the French Revolution, drawing on the American Declaration of Independence. It declared, “All men are born, and remain, free and equal in rights.” This theory of natural rights is related to the theory of natural law.
During the Age of Enlightenment, natural law theory challenged the divine right of kings. The term “natural rights” is a humanistic concept and is not compatible with the Bible. Deuteronomy 30:19–20 specifies that we don’t have a human or civil right to do anything we want. Rather, we are given the choice between life and death, blessing and cursing.
If any of us have embraced new age thinking or Enlightenment views, then we might be having a very different idea of Who or what God might be to us. We possibly believe in polytheism—that there is a multiplicity of gods. God has not only revealed Who is He is in the Scriptures, but He clearly tells us that there is no salvation outside of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus states,
I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to Father except through Me” (John 14:6). And Isaiah declares: Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: “I am the First and I am the Last; besides Me there is no God. (Isaiah 44:6) I, even I, am the Lord, and besides Me there is no Savior. (Isaiah 43:11)