Saturday, November 20, 2010

Thomas Jefferson - Importance of Freedom of Religion

As you may already know, the phrase "separation of church and state" is not found in our Constitution. In informal surveys I have done, however, many people this it IS found there. Thomas Jefferson used that phrase in one letter to describe a facet of the First Amendment to the Constitution (the first of the 10 "Bill of Rights"). It was not intended to completely describe the Establishment Clause of the Amendment, which simply says that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion..."

In most of his writings on the topic, Jefferson was more likely to use phrases like "freedom of religion" or "religious freedom" to describe the need for a Bill of Rights. Consider the quote below, which is courtesy of the University of Virginia's collection of Jefferson's writings:

"In our early struggles for liberty, religious freedom could not fail to become a primary object." --Thomas Jefferson to Baltimore Baptists, 1808. ME 16:317

See more of his writings at:

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