God and the Founders: Madison, Washington, and Jefferson

God and the Founders: Madison, Washington, and Jefferson

Vincent Phillip Muñoz

Language: English

Pages: 209


Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Did the Founding Fathers intend to build a "wall of separation" between church and state? Are public Ten Commandments displays or the phrase "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance consistent with the Founders' understandings of religious freedom? In God and the Founders, Dr. Vincent Phillip Muñoz answers these questions by providing new, comprehensive interpretations of James Madison, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson. By analyzing Madison's, Washington's, and Jefferson's public documents, private writings, and political actions, Muñoz explains the Founders' competing church-state political philosophies. Muñoz explores how Madison, Washington, and Jefferson agreed and disagreed by showing how their different principles of religious freedom would decide the Supreme Court's most important First Amendment religion cases. God and the Founders answers the question, "What would the Founders do?" for the most pressing church-state issues of our time, including prayer in public schools, government support of religion, and legal burdens on individual's religious conscience.
















“Memorial and Remonstrance.” Given Madison’s expressly stated political intention in securing a bill of rights and the paucity and unreliability of the congressional record, the records of the drafting of the Bill of Rights are a relatively poor source for information about Madison’s doctrine of religious liberty. It is clear, however, that Madison did not propose the rule of noncognizance for what would become the First Amendment. His proposed language preventing the national government from

document in American history, bar none.”24 Jefferson biographer Dumas Malone offered similar praise: “[Jefferson’s] bill for the establishing of religious freedom is, in my opinion, one of his most superb papers, and it is as fresh now as it was the day he wrote it.”25 The bill remains “fresh” because of the nature of its argument. In the Virginia Statute, Jefferson strives to articulate philosophically the grounds for the natural right of religious liberty, and, in doing so, to legislate for our

peace of society, the primary concern of the state.40 While not disagreeing with Locke about civil peace being a primary end of government, Jefferson goes further than Locke does in curtailing the legitimate means government may employ to secure that end. The Virginia Statute contends that not only are speculative religious opinions tolerated, but the freedom of the human mind demands that all opinions lie outside the jurisdiction of civil government. Jefferson was conscious of his departure

because Jefferson identified the statute as one of his three greatest accomplishments and because it purports to deduce the natural rights of religious freedom. Without questioning whether the mind actually is “free” in the way that Jefferson depicts it to be, I have attempted to show how only some of the statute’s conclusions follow from its epistemological premises. Moreover, as I shall attempt to demonstrate in the next section, the Virginia Statute’s doctrines do not explain Jefferson’s own

state adopt laws that indirectly criminalize religious exercises? (Reynolds, Smith) Yes. • Can the state impose civic obligations that require individuals to act contrary to their religious precepts? (Gobitis, Barnette, Yoder) Yes. • Can the state adopt laws that indirectly burden religious exercises? (Braunfeld, Sherbert) Yes. The Washingtonian Approach to Indirect Burdens Washingtonianism would not prohibit or grant exemptions from indirect burdens on religious practices as

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