The First Amendment has a quasi-sacred status in the minds of most Americans because that is the amendment that guarantees freedom of speech and freedom of the press. On that note, it guarantees the protected status of what I am doing right now in this blog. This tendency to imagine that the First Amendment is the product of divine inspiration in nearly the same sense if not degree as the Bible is even more prevalent in those who lean toward Libertarianism. The latter are sometimes tempted to see the U.S. Constitution, and even more so its Bill of Rights (the first ten amendments), especially the First and Second, as akin to holy writ. For some of us, the First Amendment is the more revered of the two, but not because of the liberty it upholds in the sphere of political speech, but because the first freedom it supports is not that of speech or the press, but the free exercise of religion.
What most people do not know is that we owe the freedom of religion we enjoy here in this constitutional republic in no small part to the efforts of Catholic, most especially Charles Carroll of Carrolton, the only Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence. He was a delegate from Maryland, which, of the thirteen original colonies, was the only nominally Catholic one – indeed, the other delegates from Maryland were all Episcopalians. CONTINUED