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by David F. Walbert

Virtually every clause of the United States Constitution was drafted, debated, and adopted with a critical eye to preceding European history. The Framers of the Constitution sought to establish a functional national government, but they were, of course, profoundly concerned about the potential of that government to abuse the rights, property, and lives of the people. The particular history of Europe and the colonies concerning religious tolerance, religious intolerance, religious wars, and the like, provides an especially deep and poignant background underlying the adoption of the Free Exercise and Establishment Clauses of the First Amendment to the Constitution.

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