Legacy Of Liberty: Celebrating Religious Freedom Day, 2013
Wall of Separation Jan 16, 2013
by Rob Boston
Your calendar might not note this, but today is Religious Freedom Day, an event that celebrates passage of Thomas Jefferson’s pioneering Statute for Religious Freedom in Virginia.
Some quick background: In 1784, Patrick Henry introduced a bill in the Virginia legislature that would have required all residents to pay a tax “for the support of the Christian religion, or of some Christian church, denomination or communion of Christians, or for some form of Christian worship.”
James Madison was alarmed. In fact, he called the Henry proposal “obnoxious on account of its dishonorable principle and dangerous tendency.”
So Madison swung into action. First, he used procedural moves to delay consideration of the bill until 1785. Then he reached for his quill pen and wrote a powerful document called “The Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments.” (OK, maybe it could have used a sexier title.) This was essentially a list of 15 reasons why religion taxes threaten freedom.