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Dear Friends Of Religious Freedom: A Timely Letter From Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson and the Baptists didn’t have much in common when it came to theology.

Jefferson, a deist, thought the moral teachings of Jesus were sublime, but he didn’t believe in the virgin birth, the divinity of Jesus or the inerrancy of the Bible. He thought the miracles reported in the New Testament were myths, and he considered the Christian doctrine of the Trinity incomprehensible.

Needless to say, his founding-era Baptist compatriots disagreed – to put it mildly.

Holier Than Thou: Tennessee Candidates Tout Their Religiosity

As I cruised some news headlines online this morning, I came across an interesting tidbit: Bronislaw Komorowski, the newly elected president of Poland, campaigned in part on a promise to increase the separation of church and state.

Prayer Day Politics: In Louisiana, Religion And Government Mix Like Oil And Water

I understand why people living along the Gulf Coast are frustrated. The BP oil spill is an unmitigated environmental disaster, with as much as 2.5 million gallons of oil pouring into the region every day.

What’s especially frustrating is that, despite all of our modern technology and know-how, we don’t seem to be able to plug the well. The oil just keeps gushing forth.

Virginia Reels: Religious Right Gov. Dances To Pat Robertson’s Tune

More than 200 years ago, Virginia was the most powerful state in the fledgling United States of America, spawning visionary leaders like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison.

How times have changed in the Old Dominion.

Instead of leaders such as Jefferson and Madison, who fought state-established religion and labored to bring full religious liberty to all, Virginia’s government today is saddled with a collection of ideologues who kowtow to the Religious Right and constantly seek to fan the flames of the “culture war.”

Prayer Day Decision: The Religious Right (Predictably) Gets It Wrong

Last night, Americans United celebrated a decision by a U.S. district court judge who ruled the congressionally mandated National Day of Prayer was unconstitutional.

The Rev. Barry W. Lynn, AU’s executive director, hailed the decision as a “tremendous victory for religious liberty. Congress has no business telling Americans when or how to pray.”

Bailout Wipeout: Religious School Aid Scheme Fails In Maryland Legislature

Yesterday, we reported here at “The Wall of Separation” about a dangerous legislative effort afoot in Maryland to directly subsidize religious schools. Monday was the last day the General Assembly would be in session, and one of the bills remaining would have allocated $10 million in direct tax support to religious schools in danger of shutting down.

Presidential Proclamations: The Chief Executives On Religious Liberty

It’s Presidents' Day. In honor of the holiday, I thought it would be interesting to pull together some quotes by our chief executives on church-state separation and religious freedom.

Most people know that Thomas Jefferson and James Madison were great champions of church-state separation. But did you know that James K. Polk had some interesting things to say, as did U.S. Grant?

This is by no means a comprehensive list, but it provides some interesting food for thought. Enjoy!

Religious Freedom Day: For A Real Celebration, Go To The Source

Jan. 16 is Religious Freedom Day. As American holidays go, this one tends to be overlooked. It's not even listed on my desk calendar.

That's a shame, because Religious Freedom Day commemorates an important event: passage of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom. This landmark legislation, drafted by Thomas Jefferson and maneuvered through the Virginia legislature by James Madison, became law on Jan. 16, 1786. Scholars consider it a precursor to the First Amendment and a vital step along the way to securing the separation of church and state.

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