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Baptists Gave the United States the Freedom of Religion

Our church is a Baptist church. Very often, when I talk to non-Baptists, I explain that Baptists brought to the United States, the freedom of religion, and were primarily responsible for the freedom of religion in the first amendment to the Constitution in the Bill of Rights.

James Madison, in 1780 voted a member of the Continental Congress from Virginia and often called the Father of the Constitution, would not get a vote of ratification of the United States Constitution in Virginia without a Bill of Rights. Virginia Baptists were so great in number that they would disable Virginia from ratifying the Constitution. They would not vote for ratification because they wanted freedom of religion.

Baptists had been persecuted by a colonial state church in Virginia. They were punished for preaching the truth in their colony. The crown, the Virginia Company, and — in 1619 — the House of Burgesses each confirmed the (Anglican) Church of England as the established church of the colony of Virginia.

You can assume that Baptists don’t want to force or coerce someone to believe or hold a particular religious doctrine or practice. I can say that I am thankful for freedom of religion as expressed by two clauses in the first amendment of the Constitution.

The First Amendment reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” No establishment of religion and no prohibition of the free exercise of religion. Our Baptist forefathers on this continent passed this freedom to us. Let us all take the greatest advantage of it.

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