God and the Founders: Madison, Washington, and Jefferson

God and the Founders: Madison, Washington, and Jefferson

Vincent Phillip Muñoz

Language: English

Pages: 209


Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Did the Founding Fathers intend to build a "wall of separation" between church and state? Are public Ten Commandments displays or the phrase "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance consistent with the Founders' understandings of religious freedom? In God and the Founders, Dr. Vincent Phillip Muñoz answers these questions by providing new, comprehensive interpretations of James Madison, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson. By analyzing Madison's, Washington's, and Jefferson's public documents, private writings, and political actions, Muñoz explains the Founders' competing church-state political philosophies. Muñoz explores how Madison, Washington, and Jefferson agreed and disagreed by showing how their different principles of religious freedom would decide the Supreme Court's most important First Amendment religion cases. God and the Founders answers the question, "What would the Founders do?" for the most pressing church-state issues of our time, including prayer in public schools, government support of religion, and legal burdens on individual's religious conscience.





















the dominion of false Religions; and how small is the former! Does the policy of the Bill tend to lessen the disproportion? No; it at once discourages those who are strangers to the light of revelation from coming into the Region of it; and countenances by example the nations who continue in darkness, in shutting out those who might convey it to them. Instead of Levelling as far as possible, every obstacle to the victorious progress of Truth, the Bill with an ignoble and unchristian timidity

separation. See Everson v. Board of Education, Jefferson, Thomas or Jeffersonianism: “wall of separation” Wallace v. Jaffree, 129, 131, 132, 134, 135, 136, 137, 139, 201 Walz v. Tax Commission of City of New York, 182, 184, 185, 186, 187, 188, 193 War of 1812, 42, 52 Washington State Constitution, 169, 172 Washington, George or Washingtonianismarguments for and against, 212–214 “Circular to the States,” 53 correspondence withBaptist Churches of Virginia, 60 Catholics,

be a precedent for giving to religious Societies as such, a legal agency in carrying into effect a public and civil duty.”83 Madison’s words “as such” indicate that his objection was not that the bill would allow a religious society to participate in the carrying out of public duties, but rather that it could be interpreted to imply that the church had legal mandate to help the poor because it was a church. Madison objected to the state granting a religious group special privileges because it was

set forth in the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom. To understand how Jefferson attempted to build the “wall” philosophically, we must move beyond the Danbury Baptist letter to the Virginia Statute. JEFFERSON’S PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGIOUS LIBERTY: THE VIRGINIA STATUTE FOR RELIGIOUS FREEDOM Despite the relative lack of attention the Supreme Court has given the Virginia Statute, scholars have long noted its significance. Harvard historian Bernard Bailyn called it “the most important

Jefferson’s own commitment to religious freedom was not grounded on the statute’s philosophical epistemology. He did not attempt to build a politics on the premise that “Almighty God hath created the mind to be free.” His own actions to establish religious freedom belied his declaration that “the opinions of men are not the object of civil government, nor under its jurisdiction.” Jefferson aimed to construct a political community that would emancipate the human mind from what he considered to be

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