Wednesday, August 31, 2011

James Madison for Separation of Church and State

Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments - James Madison 1785

A beautiful piece written by one of the great founding fathers, James Madison. Virginia was trying to pass a bill that would tax all individuals for the explicit purpose of christian religious teaching over other religions. In a blatant disregard for separation of church and state, Patrick Henry pushed to have christianity established as the religion supported by the state. James Madison wrote his remonstrance with 15 reasons against this bill, which luckily never passed.

"What influence in fact have ecclesiastical establishments had on Civil Society? In some instances they have been seen to erect a spiritual tyranny on the ruins of the Civil authority; in many instances they have been seen upholding the thrones of political tyranny: in no instance have they been seen the guardians of the liberties of the people. Rulers who wished to subvert the public liberty, may have found an established Clergy convenient auxiliaries. A just Government instituted to secure & perpetuate it needs them not. Such a Government will be best supported by protecting every Citizen in the enjoyment of his Religion with the same equal hand which protects his person and his property; by neither invading the equal rights of any Sect, nor suffering any Sect to invade those of another."

Here is the bill as it was proposed by Patrick Henry:

A Bill Establishing A Provision For Teachers of the Christian Religion - Patrick Henry 1784

This bill was ultimately passed in Virginia, written by Thomas Jefferson:

The Virginia Act for Establishing Religious Freedom - Thomas Jefferson 1786

(James Madison)

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