The ‘separation of church and state’ and ‘religious persecution’

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By: Renee Nal | New Zeal

Thomas Jefferson asked for the "the following inscription, & not a word more" on his tombstone: Here was buried Thomas Jefferson Author of the Declaration of American Independence of the Statute of Virginia for religious freedom & Father of the University of Virginia

Thomas Jefferson asked specifically for the “the following inscription, & not a word more” on his tombstone: “Here was buried Thomas Jefferson, Author of the Declaration of American Independence of the Statute of Virginia for religious freedom & Father of the University of Virginia”

“That religion, or the duty which we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and therefore all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and that it is the mutual duty of all to practise Christian forbearance, love, and charity toward each other.” – The Virginia Declaration of Rights, adopted by the Virginia Constitutional Convention on June 12, 1776

The founding fathers believed in religious freedom, not religious suppression and persecution. The Library of Congress confirms that “the great majority left Europe [to come to America] to worship God in the way they believed to be correct.” In Europe, “majority religious groups who controlled political power punished dissenters in their midst.” The “New England colonies, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Maryland,” the article continued, “were conceived and established as ‘plantations of religion.'”

While most of the founding fathers were undeniably deeply religious, they also wanted to ensure that the federal government would impose “no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

It is quite unfathomable that their intent has been somehow interpreted over time to mean that all semblance of religion should be removed from the public square. That action, one could reasonably conclude, is suppression of religion, or “prohibiting the free exercise” of religion.

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