Charleston v. Benjamin, 1846: Tolerance is Christian


“What gave to us this noble safeguard of religious toleration . . . ? It was Christianity…. But this toleration, thus granted, is a religious toleration; it is the free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, with two provisos, one of which, that which guards against acts of licentiousness, testifies to the Christian construction, which this section should receive! What are acts “of licentiousness” within the meaning of this section? Must they not be such public acts, as are calculated to shock the moral sense of the community where they take place? The orgies of Bacchus, among the ancients, were not offensive! At a later day, the Carnivals of Venice went off without note or observation. Such could not be allowed now! Why? Public opinion, based on Christian morality, would not suffer it! What constitutes the standard of good morals? Is it nor Christianity’ There certainly is none other Say that cannot be appealed to, and I don’t know what would he good morals. The day of moral virtue in which we live would, in an instant, if that standard were abolished lapse into the dark and murky night of Pagan immorality. In the Courts over which we preside, we daily acknowledge Christianity as the most solemn part of our administration. A Christian witness, having no religious scruples about placing his hand upon the book, is sworn upon the holy Evangelists–the books of the New Testament, which testify of our Savior’s birth, life, death, and resurrection; this is so common a matter, that it is little thought of as an evidence of the part which Christianity has in the common law. I agree fully to what is beautifully and appropriately said in Updegraph v. The Commonwealth…–Christianity, general Christianity, is, and always has been, a part of the common law: “not Christianity founded on any particular religious tenets; not Christianity with an established church … but Christianity with liberty of conscience to all men” (Charleston v. Benjamin, 1846 Supreme Court of South Carolina)

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One thought on “Charleston v. Benjamin, 1846: Tolerance is Christian

  1. (…Reads through it…)

    Hmm. Oh look.
    The Supreme Court of South Carolina. 1846.
    Interesting times.
    Glad you brought it up.

    What constitutes the standard of good morals? Is it nor Christianity’ There certainly is none other Say that cannot be appealed to, and I don’t know what would he good morals. The day of moral virtue in which we live would, in an instant, if that standard were abolished lapse into the dark and murky night of Pagan immorality.

    Moral virtue? Really? Ok.

    In the Courts over which we preside, we daily acknowledge Christianity as the most solemn part of our administration.

    Hey, if you say so then…it must be so.
    So…um…what were the courts doing back in South Carolina in…1846.
    Let’s see…

    “South Carolina established its slave code in 1712, based on the 1688 English slave code employed in Barbados. The South Carolina slave code served as the model for other colonies in North America. In 1770, Georgia adopted the South Carolina slave code, and then Florida adopted the Georgia code. The 1712 South Carolina slave code included provisions such as:
    Slaves were forbidden to leave the owner’s property, unless accompanied by a white person, or obtaining permission. If a slave leaves the owner’s property without permission, “every white person” is required to chastise such slaves
    Any slave attempting to run away and leave the colony (later, state) receives the death penalty
    Any slave who evades capture for 20 days or more is to be publicly whipped for the first offense; branded with the letter R on the right cheek for the second offense; and lose one ear if absent for thirty days for the third offense; and castrated for the fourth offense.
    Owners refusing to abide by the slave code are fined and forfeit ownership of their slaves
    Slave homes are to be searched every two weeks for weapons or stolen goods. Punishment for violations escalate to include loss of ear, branding, and nose-slitting, and for the fourth offense, death.
    No slave shall be allowed to work for pay, or to plant corn, peas or rice; or to keep hogs, cattle, or horses; or to own or operate a boat; to buy or sell; or to wear clothes finer than ‘Negro cloth’

    The South Carolina slave code was revised in 1739 with the following amendments:
    No slave shall be taught to write, work on Sunday, or work more than 15 hours per day in Summer, and 14 hours in Winter.
    Willful killing of a slave exacts a fine of 700 pounds, and “passion” killing 350 pounds
    The fine for concealing runaway slaves is one thousand dollars and a prison sentence of up to one year
    A fine of one hundred dollars and six months in prison are imposed for employing any Black or slave as a clerk
    A fine of one hundred dollars and six months in prison are imposed on anyone selling or giving alcoholic beverages to slaves
    A fine of one hundred dollars and six months in prison are imposed for teaching a slave to read and write, and death is the penalty for circulating incendiary literature
    Freeing a slave is forbidden, except by deed, and after 1820, only by permission of the legislature”

    (Source: Wikipedia)

    History. I just love history.

    Slavery In The Bible

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