The Formation of the First Amendment

Thomas J. Curry

in Farewell to Christendom

Published in print November 2001 | ISBN: 9780195145694
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199834129 | DOI:
 The Formation of the First Amendment

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Religious liberty depends on keeping the government out of religious matters, whereas religious toleration is a gift of government. Virginia's Bill for Religious Liberty and Massachusetts’ Constitution of 1780 illustrated these contrasting concepts. The modern preoccupation with the meaning of establishment of religion overlooks the significance to Americans in 1789, of the free exercise of religion. So, too, modern emphasis on the image of “separation of Church and State” leads scholars away from an appreciation of the historical meaning of the Amendment.

Keywords: Bill for Religious Liberty; Establishment of Religion; Free Exercise of Religion; Massachusetts Constitution of 1780; religious liberty; religious toleration; separation of Church and State

Chapter.  8319 words. 

Subjects: Christianity

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