The First Freedoms
The Privacy Amendments
The 5th Amendment
The 6th Amendment
Civil Trials
The Interpretive Rules

Freedom of Religion

Religious Freedom in Virginia

Madison’s efforts led to the defeat of the religious tax and to the enactment of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, drafted several years earlier by Madison’s good friend, Thomas Jefferson. The Statute began with the famous words, “Almighty God hath created the mind free” and condemned “all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burthens, or by civil incapacitations.” It also condemned “the impious presumption of legislators and rulers” who had “assumed dominion over the faith of others.” The Statute then specifically provided that it was “sinful and tyrannical” to “compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves.”

Thus, the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom served as a forerunner of both of the religion clauses of the 1st Amendment: the Free Exercise Clause and the Establishment Clause.