Struggle for religious freedom and disestablishment in Virginia during the American Revolutionary period



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Purpose: It was the purpose of this study to show the struggle which dissenters of Virginia undertook to obtain complete religious freedom and disestablishment. Special consideration has been given to (1) the impetuousness of the Baptists in obtaining the separation of church and state in Virginia; (2) the roles played by James Madison and Thomas Jefferson in the struggle for religious liberty and disestablishment in Virginia; and (3) the Bill for Religious Freedom. Methods: The methods used to obtain data for this study were (1) the examination of the original records for the Virginia house of Delegates and Virginia House of Burgesses; (2) the examination of original sources. Such as letters, newspaper articles, and diaries; and (3) the examination of numerous secondary source books. Findings: From the evidence presented in this study, the following conclusions may be drawn: 1. The Baptists and Presbyterians in Virginia struck for independence from England and petitioned for religious liberty and disestablishment in Virginia. 2. The Baptists were the only religious denomination which consistently advocated religious freedom and disestablishment until the separation of church and state was complete in Virginia. 3. The Virginia Bill of Rights, containing a definition of religious liberty, influenced other United States government documents. 4. Thomas Jefferson and James Madison are the men to whom must be ascribed the highest deed of praise for the establishment of religious liberty in Virginia. 5. The combination of dissenting groups and political leaders in Virginia brought about complete religious liberty in Virginia, and the Bill for Religious Freedom completed the separation of church and state in Virginia.



Freedom of religion, Baptists, Virginia, Bill of Religious Freedom, separation of church and state