en years before
died, English settlers landed in the
Colony of Virginia,
named for the
"Virgin Queen" Elizabeth I.
Virginia's First Charter
stated, April 10, 1606:
"Greatly commending ... their Desires for the Furtherance of so noble a Work, which may, by the Providence of Almighty God, hereafter tend to the Glory of His Divine Majesty,
in propagating of
to such People, as yet live in Darkness and miserable Ignorance of the true Knowledge and Worship of God."
wrote in his
"The first settlers of Virginia were Englishmen,
loyal subjects to their King and Church
and the grant to Sir Walter Raleigh contained an express proviso that their laws
'should not be against the true Christian faith, now professed in the Church of England.'"
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On APRIL 26, 1607, English settlers landed at the site of
, named for
Prince Henry of Wales
Their first act was to
erect a wooden cross
and commence a prayer meeting.
They ascended the
, and settled Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in America.
Second Charter of Virginia
, May 23, 1609, stated:
"The principal Effect which we can expect or desire of this Action is the Conversion and reduction of the people in those parts
unto the true worship of God and the Christian Religion ...
It shall be necessary for all such our loving Subjects ... to live together, in the Fear and
true Worship of Almighty God, Christian Peace
, and civil Quietness, with each other."
The Third Charter of Virginia
, March 12, 1611, stated:
"Our loving Subjects ... for
the Propagation of Christian Religion,
and Reclaiming of People barbarous, to Civility and Humanity, We have ... granted unto them...the first Colony in Virginia."
Church of England
was established as the official denomination in Virginia from 1606 till 1786.
Noah Webster's 1828 Dictionary defined "establishment" of religion as:
"The episcopal form of religion, so called in England."
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In 1699, the Virginia Assembly adopted the statutes of Monarchs
William and Mary
allowing for the toleration of some
wrote to Robert Walsh, March 2, 1819:
was originally the established religion ...
Of other sects there were but few adherents, except the
who predominated on the west side of the Blue Mountains ..."
"A little time previous to the Revolutionary struggle, the
sprang up, and made very rapid progress ...
At present the population is divided, with small exceptions, among the
Protestant Episcopalians, the Presbyterians, the Baptists and the Methodists
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U.S. Supreme Court Justice Hugo Lafayette Black
Engel v. Vitale
"As late as the time of the Revolutionary War,
there were established Churches
in at least eight of the thirteen former colonies ...
The successful Revolution against English political domination was shortly followed by intense opposition ... in Virginia where the minority religious groups such as
Presbyterians, Lutherans, Quakers and Baptists
had gained such strength ..."
Justice Hugo Black continued:
"In 1785-1786, those opposed to
the established Church
... obtained the enactment of the famous
'Virginia Bill for Religious Liberty'
by which all religious groups were placed on an equal footing."
"Virginia Bill for Religious Liberty,"
drafted by Jefferson, prevented the government from infringing on the rights of conscience, January 16, 1786:
hath created the mind free, and manifested his supreme will that free it shall remain by making it altogether insusceptible of restraint;
that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments ... are a departure from the plan of
the holy author of our religion
who being lord both of body and mind, yet
chose not to propagate it by coercions
on either, as was
in his Almighty power
to do, but to extend it by its influence on reason alone ..."
To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors, is sinful and tyrannical ...
that ... laying upon him an incapacity of being called to offices of trust ...
unless he ... renounce this or that religious opinion
, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges ... to which ... he has a natural right ...
the opinions of men are not the object of civil government, nor under its jurisdiction;
that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion ... is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty, because he being of course judge of that tendency will make his opinions the rule of judgment, and approve or condemn the sentiments of others ...
that truth is great and will prevail if left to herself ..."
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no man shall be ... molested ... on account of his religious opinions
but that all men shall be
free to profess
, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion."
Jefferson's view, that no man should be molested "on account of his religious opinions" would have pitted him against current "hate crime" and "sharia" laws.
Virginia Declaration of Rights
, Article 16, ratified June 12, 1776, stated:
"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,
it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity
, towards each other."
During the colonial times, only a small number of
settled in the Anglican Colony of Virginia.
After the Revolution,
the first Catholic Church in Virginia
was erected in 1795,
St. Mary Church
first permanent Jewish synagogue in Virginia
was built in Richmond in 1820.
'Kehilah ha Kadosh Beth Shalome'
, it is considered one of oldest colonial Jewish congregations in America, along with others in New York, Philadelphia, Newport, Savannah, and Charleston.
Virginian George Washington wrote November 27, 1783:
"Acknowledge ... our infinite obligations to
the Supreme Ruler of the Universe
for rescuing our country from the brink of destruction;
I cannot fail ... to ascribe all the honor of our late success to
the same glorious Being
The establishment of Civil and Religious Liberty was the Motive which induced me to the Field
It now remains to be
my earnest ... prayer
, that the Citizens of the United States would make a wise and virtuous use of the blessings, placed before them."