July 28, 2003

Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom: Preamble

p. 227: AN ACT FOR ESTABLISHING RELIGIOUS FREEDOM, passed in the assembly of Virginia in the beginning of the year 1786.

Well aware that Almighty God hath created the mind free; that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments of burthens, or by civil incapacitations, tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and are a departure from the plan of the Holy Author of our religion, who being Lord both of body and mind, yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as was in his Almighty power to do; that the impious presumption of legislators and rulers civil, as well as ecclesiastical who, being themselves but fallible and uninspired men, have affirmed dominion over the faith of others...

Posted by DeLong at July 28, 2003 08:08 PM | TrackBack


That is an excellent find.

Posted by: John on July 28, 2003 08:41 PM

Somehow I doubt Judge Roy Moore has read that.

Posted by: Henry on July 28, 2003 09:47 PM

The Statute is warning against governmental regulation of the relationship between God and humanity. Technically, posting the Ten Commandments in a courthouse doesn't violate it. Neither does citing religious arguments for enacting civil rights legislation, evidently.

Posted by: Alan K. Henderson on July 28, 2003 10:28 PM

Note to "John": it's not the hardest "find" in the world; among other things,it's been in the sidebar of my blog for about a year and a half.


Posted by: Gary Farber on July 28, 2003 10:33 PM

Prohibiting the posting of the Ten Commandments would seem to be a blatant violation of the First Amendment "free exercise" clause. But, I'm wondering could a public school even assign this to be read this today:

" Well aware that Almighty God ....the Holy Author of our religion, who being Lord....his Almighty power... "

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on July 29, 2003 07:08 AM
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