Front Page Titles (by Subject) §7. - Of the Nature and Qualification of Religion, in Reference to Civil Society
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§7. - Samuel von Pufendorf, Of the Nature and Qualification of Religion, in Reference to Civil Society 
Of the Nature and Qualification of Religion, in Reference to Civil Society, trans. Jodocus Crull, ed. and with an introduction by Simone Zurbuchen (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2002).
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What Power, according to the Law of Nature, belongs to Sovereigns in Ecclesiastical Affairs?Sovereigns are nevertheless, not excluded from having a certain Power and Disposal in Ecclesiastical Affairs, as they are the Supream Heads and Governours of the Commonwealth; and are therefore stil’d, the Publick Fathers, and Fathers of their Native Country. And, as has been said before, as it is one of the Principal parts of Paternal Duty, to implant Piety into their Children; so Sovereigns ought to take care, that Publick Discipline (of which the Reverence due to God Almighty, is one main Point) to be maintained among their Subjects. And, whereas the Fear of God is the Foundation Stone of Probity, and other Moral Vertues; and it being the Interest of Sovereigns, that the same be by all means encouraged in a State; and that Religion is the strongest Knot for the maintaining a true Union betwixt Sovereigns and their Subjects. (God being a God of Truth, who has commanded, that Faith and Compacts should be sacred among Men:) It is therefore a Duty incumbent upon Sovereigns, to take not only effectual Care, that Natural Religion be maintain’d, and cultivated among their Subjects; But they have also a sufficient Authority, to Enact such Laws as may enable them, to keep their Subjects from committing any thing, which tends, either to the total Destruction, or the Subversion, of the Capital Points of Religion: As if, for instance, any one should attempt to deny publickly the Existency of a God, and his Providence, to set up plurality of Gods; to worship fictitious Gods, or Idols in Gods stead, to spread abroad Blasphemies, or to worship the Devil, enter with him into a Compact, and such like Actions. For, if these are kept within the compass of Peoples Thoughts, without breaking out into publick or outward Actions, they are not punishable by the Law, neither can any Humane Power take Cognizance of what is contained only, and hidden in the Heart. And, as to what concerns those Ceremonies which have been annexed to Religious Worship, though it be undeniable, that one of the main Points, towards the maintaining a good Order in the State is, that a due Uniformity, should be observed in the same, Nevertheless, Sovereigns need not be so very anxious on this Account, because these Differences do not Overturn Religion it self; neither do they (as such considered) dispose Subjects to raise Disturbances, and Dissention in the State. Neither can Sovereigns be any great Loosers by the Bargain, if their Subjects differ in some Ceremonies, no more, than if they were divided into several Opinions, concerning some Philosophical Doctrine. But, this is beyond all doubt, that, if under a Religious Pretext, Subjects pretend to raise Factions, which may prove dangerous to the State, or hatch other secret Mischiefs; these are Punishable by the Supream Magistrates, notwithstanding their Religious Pretences; for, as Religion (in its self considered) is not the cause of Vices; so ought it not to serve for a Cloak, wherewith to cover and protect such treacherous Designs. So, the Roman Senate did acquit themselves very well in their Station, when they Abolished these Debaucheries, which were crept into the State, with the Bachanals.22 But those Sovereigns, who have transgressed these Bounds, by compelling their Subjects to a Religion of their own Invention, have, without doubt, abused that Power, wherewith they were entrusted. Neither have these Princes acquitted themselves much better in their Station, who have Persecuted their Subjects, for no other Reason, but because they Professed a Religion different from their own, without making a due Enquiry, whether their Doctrine were Erroneous or not. Thus the Proceedings of Pliny the Younger, (a Man otherwise of a very good Temper) against the Christians in Bithynia, cannot in any wise be justified; For he confesses himself, That he never was present at the Tryals of the Christians; and was therefore ignorant both of their Crime, and consequently, of what Punishment they deserved. For these are his Words: I only asked some of them several times, whether they were Christians; which they having constantly Professed they were, I ordered them to be carried to the Place of Execution; it being plain to me, That, of what Nature soever their Confession might be, such an inflexible Humour, and obstinate Behaviour, ought not to go unpunished.23
[22.]The festivals of Bacchus, the wine god. The reputation of these festivals as orgies led in 186 b.c. to a decree by the Roman senate that prohibited the Bacchanalia throughout Italy, except in certain special cases. This is narrated by Titus Livius in his History of Rome, book 19, chaps. 8–19. See Livy, with an English translation in fourteen volumes, vol. XI, books XXXVIII–XXXIX, translated by Evan T. Sage (London: William Heinemann, 1936), 241–75. [SZu]
[23.]Pliny (the younger), book X, letter 96. See Pliny, Letters and Panegyricus in two volumes, vol. II, with an English translation by Betty Radice (London: William Heinemann, 1969), 286–87. [SZu]