Via Ed Brayton, I am reminded that today, January 16th is Religious Freedom Day. It is the anniversary of the enactment of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom in 1786. The Statute is the model upon which the Religion Clauses of the First Amendment of the US Constitution is constructed, as well as many of the state constitutions. By 1833, all states had officially eliminated establishment of religion. Like many other laws, there are a series of documents leading up to the enactment, explaining the rationale behind the statute. I am dedicating a short series of posts to the three foundational documents, including the Statute itself, that formed the basis of the Religion Clauses of the Constitution.
First in line is Query 17 of Thomas Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia. The front matter of the Notes states:
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