Written by Joe Wolverton, II, J.D.
As part of her plea, Becker makes several significant mistakes in her review of history of the supposed irreligiousness of our Founding Fathers.
It’s 1784 and James Madison has a problem: the General Assembly of Virginia has just proposed a bill that would establish a special tax to pay for “teachers of the Christian Religion.” The bill has wide support because the Episcopal Church — the dominant church — will benefit greatly from having taxpayers pay for its teachers. Madison, however, knows better. He knows the bill is an attack on the principle of freedom of conscience and a threat to the liberties so recently wrenched from King George III.So what does he do? What does the future Founding Father, Father of the Constitution, Father of the Bill of Rights, and fourth president of the United States do? He sits down and writes out a list of fifteen reasons why Virginians should reject the bill and any other attempt to mix religion and government.
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 practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity toward each other.