Jefferson’s Blog: Freedom of Religion
Hello Destination Pen Pals and Adventurers! I have been reading up on religious freedom here in America and I have learned some interesting things. Here in America, our citizens are allowed the freedom to practice any religion they choose. We are a nation built on the idea that people should have the freedom to choose. America is also a country that believes the people should not be ruled by one religion.
Two of our country’s Framers, James Madison and Thomas Jefferson were very important in creating the laws that would guarantee our freedoms of religion here in the United States. They also worked very hard to protect the American people from the tyranny of a government that was controlled by religion. For you kids out there, just a little side note about tyranny. Tyranny is when a country is ruled by a person or a group of people that are cruel, unjust and have unfair control over the people. People ruled by tyranny are not free to make choices for themselves, including, religious choices.
Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President of the United States
James Madison, 4th President of the United States
Now, we all understand America was built from people trying to escape religious persecution, but things weren’t always rosy here in America either. Some people believed in a strict separation between church and government while others believed the separation should only be there to prevent the government from favoring one religion. Believe it or not, this caused many arguments and even persecutions among citizens and local communities right here in America.
The debates and disagreements over how separation of church and state should be handled was a cause close to the hearts of James Madison and Thomas Jefferson, both Framers of our great country and presidents. They were called “The Champions of Religious Freedom” because they spoke out against a state controlled by religion. It was Thomas Jefferson who started the end of religious persecution in America. He created a document called “Statutes for Religious Freedom in Virginia”. This was the beginning of the end for a country controlled by one church. In its place came “Freedom of Religion”, which allowed freedom of different churches to worship without being mistreated or punished.
As a result of the Framers hard work and effort, eventually, freedom of religion spread throughout the colonies. The Constitution and Bill of Rights were written and revised, giving us freedom of religion, among other freedoms. Article VI of the First Amendment gives us the freedom of religion. It states, “No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States”. To prevent an overbearing government, the Bill of Rights was also added. In the United States, freedom of religion is a constitutionally protected right provided in the religion clauses of the First Amendment.
Two clauses in the First Amendment guarantee freedom of religion, the establishment clause and the free exercise clause. The establishment clause prevents government from favoring any one religion and makes sure there is a separation of church and state. The free exercise clause stops the government from interfering with people’s right to practice their chosen religion. These rights would not be granted to us today, if it weren’t for brave men such as James Madison and Thomas Jefferson. I sure learned a lot, but more importantly, it’s helped me understand just how lucky I am to be living in the United States of America, “Land of the Free and Home of the Brave”.
America’s Original Destination Pen Pal
To find out more about the Constitution, Bill of Rights and “Freedom of Religion” in the United States, we have provided some cool links below to videos and more…keep scrolling!
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
-First Amendment of the United States Constitution
Bill of Rights Transcript (Print)
Constitution Hall Pass (great video)
America Gets a Constitution (video from the History Channel)
Bill of Rights (video from the History Channel)
Jefferson Eagle, Blog Contributor
Jefferson Eagle is an America’s Destination Pen Pals blog contributor and Destination Pen Pal adventurer. He has become one of ADPP’s foremost experts on the culture and geography of the United States, The Constitution and America’s rich history. Jefferson Eagle currently travels the United States with his Pen Pal Buddies exploring America and teaching children about the traditions, history and culture which built this great nation.