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The New York Supreme Court


Supreme Court of New York 1811, stated in the case of the People v. Ruggles, 8 Johns 545-547 Chief Justice Chancellor Kent:

"The defendant was indicted... in December, 1810, for that he did, on the 2nd day of September, 1810... wickedly, maliciously, and blasphemously, utter, and with a loud voice publish, in the presence and hearing of divers good and Christian people, of and concerning the Christian religion, and of and concerning Jesus Christ, the false, scandalous, malicious, wicked and blasphemous words following: 'Jesus Christ was a bastard, and his mother must be a whore,' in contempt of the Christian religion... the defendant was tried and found guilty, and was sentenced by the court to be imprisoned for three months, and to pay a fine of $500."  - 1811, The People v. Ruggles, 8 Johns 545 (1811).  David Barton, The Myth of Separation (Aledo, TX: WallBuilder Press, 1991), p. 55.

The argument which the prosecuting attorney had presented to the court, explained:

"While the constitution of the State has saved the rights of conscience, and allowed a free and fair discussion of all points of controversy among religious sects, it has left the principal engrafted on the body of our common law, that Christianity is part of the laws of the State, untouched and unimpaired."  - Ibid.

Chief Justice Kent delivered the courts decision in this case:

"Such words uttered with such a disposition were an offense at common law.  In Taylor's case the defendant was convicted upon information of speaking similar words, and the Court... said that Christianity was parcel of the law, and to cast contumelious reproaches upon it, tended to weaken the foundation of moral obligation, and the efficacy of oaths."

"And is the case of Rex v. Woolston, on a like conviction, the Court said... that whatever strikes at the root of Christianity tends manifestly to the dissolution of civil government... the authorities show that blasphemy against God and... profane ridicule of Christ or the Holy Scriptures (which are equally treated as blasphemy), are offenses punishable at common law, whether uttered by words or writings... because it tends to corrupt the morals of the people, and to destroy good order."

"Such offenses have always been considered independent of any religious establishment or the rights of the Church.  They are treated as affecting the essential interests of civil society...."

"We stand equally in need, now as formerly, of all the moral discipline, and of those principles of virtue, which help to bind society together."

The people of this State, in common with the people of this country, profess the general doctrines of Christianity, as the rule of their faith and practice; and to scandalize the author of these doctrines is not only, in a religious point of view, extremely impious, but, even in respect to the obligations due to society, is a gross violation of decency and good order."

"Nothing could be more injurious to the tender morals of the young, than to declare such profanity lawful...."

"The free, equal, and undisturbed enjoyment of religious opinion, whatever it may be, and free and decent discussions on any religious subject, is granted and secured; but to revile.... the religion professed by almost the whole community, is an abuse of that right...."

We are a Christian people, and the morality of the country is deeply engrafted upon Christianity, and not upon the doctrines or worship of those impostors [other religions]...."

"[We are] people whose manners are refined and whose morals have been elevated and inspired with a more enlarged benevolence, by means of the Christian religion.  Though the constitution has discarded religious establishments, it does not forbid judicial cognizance of those offenses against religions and morality which have no reference to any such establishment.... [offenses which] strike at the root of moral obligation, and weaken the security of the social ties...."

"This [constitutional] declaration (noble and magnanimous as it is, when duly understood) never meant to withdraw religion in general, and with it the best sanctions of moral and social obligation from all consideration and notice of the law...."

"To construe it as breaking down the common law barriers against licentious, wanton, and impious attacks upon Christianity itself, would be an enormous perversion of its meaning...."

"Christianity, in its enlarged sense, as a religion revealed and taught in the Bible, is not unknown to our law...."

"The Court are accordingly of opinion that the judgment.... must be affirmed."  - 1811, The People v. Ruggles, 8 Johns 545-547 (1811).  Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States, 143 US 457, 458, 465-471, 36 L ed 226, Justice Brewer.  David Barton, The Myth of Separation (Aledo, TX: WallBuilder Press, 1991), p. 47-51, 55-61.  "Our Christian Heritage," Letter from Plymouth Rock (Marlborough, NH: The Plymouth Rock Foundation), p. 6.  Gary DeMar, The Untold Story (Atlanta, GA: American Vision, Inc., 1993), p. 63.