The following extracts of historical Protestant confessions show that the Protestant church, from its inception, has upheld the principle that, as revealed in the Word of God, civil governments are morally obligated to uphold the true religion (and not tolerate all other religions).
The First Confession of Helvetia (1536)
Seeing that every magistrate is of God, his chief duty (except it please him to exercise tyranny) consisteth in this, to defend to defend religion from all blasphemy, to promote it, and, as the prophet teachest out of the word of the Lord, to see it put in practice, as far as lies in him. In this matter, the first place is given to the pure and free preaching of the word of God, the instructing of the youth of citizens, right and diligent teaching in schools, lawful discipline, a liberal provision for the ministers of the church, and an attentive care of the poor.
The Confession of Saxony (1551)
The Word of God doth, in general, teach this concerning the power of the magistrate: First, that God wills that the magistrate, without all doubt, should sound forth the voice of the Moral Law among men, according to the ten commandments, or law natural, by laws forbidding idolatry and blasphemies, as well as murder, theft, etc. For well has it been said of old, “the magistrate is a keeper of the law”, i.e., of the first and second table as concerning discipline and good order. This ought to be their special care (of kingdoms and rulers), to hear and embrace the true doctrine of the Son of God, and to cherish the Churches, according to Psalm 2 and 24, and Isaiah 44, ‘And kings and queens shall be thy nurses’, i.e., let commonwealths be nurses to the Church; let them give entertainment to the Church, and to godly studies.”
Confession of the English congregation in Geneva (1556)
And besides this ecclesiastical discipline, I acknowledge to belong to this Church a politic magistrate, who ministereth to every man justice, defending the good and punishing the evil, to whom we must render honour and obedience in all things which are not contrary to the Word of God. As Moses, Ezekias, Josias, and other godly rulers, purged the Church of God from superstition and idolatry, so the defence of Christ’s Church appertain to the Christian magistrates against all idolaters and heretics, as Papists, Anabaptists, with such like limbs of Anti-Christ, to root out all doctrine of devils and men, as the Mass, Purgatory, Limbus Patrum, prayer to saints, and for the dead; freewill, distinction of meats, apparel, and days; vows of single life, presence at idol service, man’s merits, with suchlike, which draw us from the society of Christ’s church wherein stands only [alone] remission of sins, purchased by Christ’s blood to all them that believe, whether they are Jews or Gentiles and lead us to vain confidence in creatures, and trust in our own imaginations.
The French Confession (1559)
We believe that God wishes to have the world governed by laws and magistrates so that some restraint may be put upon its disordered appetites. And as he has established kingdoms, republics, and all sorts of principalities, either hereditary or otherwise, and all that belongs to a just government, and wishes to be considered as their Author, so He has put the sword into the hands of magistrates to suppress crimes against the first as well as against the second table of the Commandments of God. We must therefore, on his account, not only submit to them as superiors, but honour and hold them in all reverence as His lieutenants and officers, whom He has commissioned to exercise a legitimate and holy authority.
The Confession of Faith of Scotland, a.k.a., The First Book of Discipline (1560)
Moreover, to kings, princes, rulers, and magistrates, we affirm, that chiefly and most principally the conservation and purgation of religion doth appertain; so that not only they are appointed for civil policy, but also for maintenance of the true religion and for suppressing idolatry and superstition whatsoever, as in David, Josaphat, Ezekias, Josias, and others, highly commended for their zeal in that case, may be espied.
The Belgic Confession (1561)
We believe that, because of the depravity of mankind, our gracious God has ordained kings, princes, and civil officers. He wants the world to be governed by laws and policies, in order that the licentiousness of men be restrained and that everything be conducted among them in good order. For that purpose, He has placed the sword in the hand of the government to punish wrongdoers and to protect those who do what is good. Their task of restraining and sustaining is not limited to the public order but includes the protection of the Church and its ministry in order that the kingdom of Christ may come, the Word of the gospel may be preached everywhere, and God may be honoured and served by everyone, as He requires in His Word.
Moreover, everyone—no matter of what quality, condition, or rank—ought to be subject to the civil officers, pay taxes, hold them in honour and respect, and obey them in all things which do not disagree with the Word of God. We ought to pray for them, that God may direct them in all their ways and that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way.
For that reason, we condemn the Anabaptists and other rebellious people, and in general all those who reject the authorities and civil officers, subvert justice, introduce a communion of goods, and confound the decency that God has established among men.
The Later Confession of Helvetia (1566)
Magistracy, of whatsoever sort it be, is ordained of God Himself, for the peace and tranquility of mankind, so that the magistracy ought to have the chief place in the world. If he be an adversary to the Church, he may greatly hinder and disturb it; but if he be a friend and member of the Church, he is a most profitable member, and may excellently aid and advance it. His principal duty is to procure and maintain peace and public tranquility, which, doubtless, he will never do more happily than when he is seasoned with the fear of God and true religion, particularly when he shall, after the example of the most holy kings and princes of the people of the Lord, advance the preaching of the truth, and the pure unadulterated faith, shall extirpate falsehood and all superstition, impiety, and idolatry, and shall defend the Church of God. For, indeed, we teach that the care of religion doth chiefly appertain to the holy magistrate.”
The Confession of Bohemia, a.k.a. the Confession of the Waldenses (1575)
The Christian magistrate ought also to be a partaker, and, as it were, a minister of the power of the Lamb Jesus Christ, whom God hath, in our nature, made Lord and King of kings, that the kings of the earth, who in times past had been heathen, might come under the power of the Lamb, give their glory unto the Church, and become nurses of it, which began to be fulfilled when they received the Christian religion. The Christian magistrate is peculiarly taught, by this authority of his, to promote the truth of the holy gospel, etc., whereunto the second psalm doth exhort magistrates: ‘And now, ye kings, understand’, etc.
The National Covenant of Scotland, a.k.a., The Second Book of Discipline (1578)
Although all members of the kirk [church] be holden everyone in their vocation, and according thereto, to advance the kingdom of Jesus Christ, so far as lieth in their power, yet chiefly Christian princes, and other magistrates, are hold to do the same. For they are called in the scripture nourishers of the kirk, for so much as by them it is, or at least ought to be maintained, fostered, upholden, and defended against all that would procure the hurt thereof. So it pertains to the office of a Christian magistrate to make laws and constitutions agreeable to God’s word, for advancement of the kirk, and policy thereof, without usurping anything that pertains not to the civil sword, but belongs to the offices that are merely ecclesiastical, as it the ministry of the word and sacraments, using of ecclesiastical discipline, and the spiritual execution thereof, or any part of the power of the spiritual keys, which our Master gave to the apostles, and their true successors.
The Solemn League and Covenant of the Three Kingdoms of Scotland, England and Ireland (1643)
We shall with the same sincerity, reality and constancy, in our several vocations, endeavour with our estates and lives mutually to preserve the rights and privileges of the Parliaments, and the liberties of the kingdoms, and to preserve and defend the King’s Majesty’s person and authority, in the preservation and defence of the true religion and liberties of the kingdoms, that the world may bear witness with our consciences of our loyalty, and that we have no thoughts or intentions to diminish His Majesty’s just power and greatness.
The Westminster Confession of Faith (1647)
The civil magistrate may not assume to himself the administration of the Word and sacraments, or the power of the keys of the kingdom of heaven: yet he hath authority, and it is his duty, to take order, that unity and peace be preserved in the Church, that the truth of God be kept pure and entire; that all blasphemies and heresies be suppressed; all corruptions and abuses in worship and discipline prevented or reformed; and all the ordinances of God duly settled, administered, and observed. For the better effecting whereof, he hath power to call synods, to be present at them, and to provide that whatsoever is transacted in them be according to the mind of God.
And because the powers which God hath ordained, and the liberty which Christ hath purchased, are not intended by God to destroy, but mutually to uphold and preserve one another; they who, upon pretence of Christian liberty, shall oppose any lawful power, or the lawful exercise of it, whether it be civil or ecclesiastical, resist the ordinance of God. And, for their publishing of such opinions, or maintaining of such practices, as are contrary to the light of nature, or to the known principles of Christianity, whether concerning faith, worship, or conversation; or, to the power of godliness; or, such erroneous opinions or practices, as either in their own nature, or in the manner of publishing or maintaining them, are destructive to the external peace and order which Christ hath established in the Church, they may lawfully be called to account, and proceeded against by the censures of the Church, and by the power of the civil magistrate.