“That our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions any more than our opinions in physics or geometry,” That is one of the presumptions found in the Virginia Statue of Religious Freedom.
Although Jefferson drafted this document in 1777, his point of view was not necessarily shared throughout the Colonies. In 1777, there were provisions in several of the newly written state constitutions which deemed ministers ineligible for public or military service. The State of New York Constitution (1777) reads as follows: And whereas the ministers of the gospel are, by their profession, dedicated to the service of God and the care of souls, and ought not to be diverted from the great duties of their function; therefore, no minister of the gospel, or priest of any denomination whatsoever, shall, at any time hereafter, under any presence or description whatever, be eligible to, or capable of holding, any civil or military office or place within this State.”
Yet, In 1786, the newly enacted Virginia Statue of Religious Freedom stated: “all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of Religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge or affect their civil capacities.”
Within a few years such provisions were eliminated from state constitutions. Article 6 of the Constitution, written in 1787, states: “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” The First Amendment guarantees our freedom to hold and exercise whatever belief system we choose.
It is important to examine the interactions of each colony with the British government, commonalities in the manner all of the colonies were treated by the Parliament, as well as points of disharmony between the Colonies in order to understand what issues were addressed in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. A fundamental understanding of our Founding Documents is What IS Right With America.
The attached image is of storm clouds brewing over the Lake Havasu area of Arizona.