1638: Act for Church Liberties (Maryland)

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Source: Colonial Origins of the American Constitution: A Documentary History, ed. Donald S. Lutz (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund 1998).

64 An Act for Church Liberties

Text complete as found in Browne, Archives of Maryland: Vol. i, 40.


One of the first colonial statements on religious freedom, this act is notable for extending the principle to Catholics. Later in the century a Protestant majority would temporarily rescind the right for Catholics but a few years later would include them again. In 1638, because the proprietor, Lord Calvert, was a Catholic, the Assembly had no choice but to include Catholics.

Be it enacted by the Lord Proprietarie of this Province by and with the Advice and approbation of the ffreemen of the same that Holy Church within this Province shall have all her rights liberties and immunities safe whole and inviolable in all things This act to continue till the end of the next Generall Assembly and then with the Consent of the Lord Proprietarie to be perpetuall.