Missouri once had a law saying religious liberty is not an inborn right, as the Bill of Rights states, but is a right granted by governments to people wishing to practice a belief. Even more astonishing in America, the Missouri Supreme Court upheld that position! The law is as frightening today as it was in the 1860s. The challenge to it was led by a modest, gentlemanly young priest who was indicted by a Pike County Grand Jury for preaching illegally.Radicals had gained control of state government at the close of the Civil War and drawn a constitution containing what was called the ” ironclad oath.” It was designed to keep former southern loyalists out of political office. All professional men were required to take that oath before they could practice their professions.

AOWM January 14, 2005