John Fea has demonstrated that at the state level some ministers were banned from public office. At the federal level, I'm not aware of America's Founders adopting such a policy as it might (?) violate Article VI's "no religious test" clause.
Only one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, John Witherspoon, was an active minister. David Barton wrote
an article where the best evidence he could muster was that a few
others WERE ministers in the past, but not at the time the DOI was
Yet, I don't think America's Founders so much minded
ministers being involved in public political life provided they were
supporting the right political theology. Even the more heterodox
founders offered qualified support to the work George Whitefield or even Jonathan
Edwards did ministering to folks; though they disagreed with the
theology, and wished such Protestantism to further reform to a creed more
enlightened, liberal for the era.
But some ministers like the heterodox ones Joseph Priestley, Richard
Price, Jonathan Mayhew, Charles Chauncy, orthodox ones like John
Witherspoon, Ezra Stiles, or those in between like Bishop James Madison
played key roles in expositing America's Founding political theology.
politics were a synthesis: it was citing the Bible, with Lockeanism and
Whig thought, and essences discovered in "nature," which is a tradition
that Aquinas whom they never cited because they didn't cite Roman
Catholics incorporated from Aristotle, whom they did cite. But "nature"
also provided the grounds for Lockean teachings, which arguably broke
from that earlier tradition. Or at least introduced new things into it.
Whig political theology was extremely self serving in how it understood
the faith. You had to have the "right" understanding of Romans 13.
Which is such a text, properly understood, does not stand in the way of
what America did when it revolted against Great Britain.
don't get the sense that America's Founders minded the political
involvement of these ministers because they taught what they wanted the
public to hear.