Thursday, January 1, 2015

Religious Freedom Day - Letter to the Editor

The Texas legislature will soon be in session and several ostensible “religious freedom” bills have already been submitted including one from Senator Donna Campbell (SD 25). Unfortunately neither Campbell nor her colleagues seem to understand the intent of our constitutionally guaranteed religious freedom. January 16 is Religious Freedom Day commemorating the enactment of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom in 1786 and an opportunity to remind her and others what “religious freedom” really means.

At the time of the Revolution religious freedom was not guaranteed by any government then existent. Most of the colonies had officially established religions and citizens were expected to attend that church and pay taxes supporting that church.

Before the U.S. Constitution was drafted, future presidents Thomas Jefferson and James Madison worked to free Virginia from its official state church, the Anglican Church. Jefferson wrote the bill and Madison pushed its passage as a member of the state legislature.

Shortly after the bills passage Madison went to Philadelphia and became the primary author of the U.S Constitution and the First Amendment. During the lengthy debates between delegates to the constitutional convention several attempts were made to include statements claiming the United States to be a Christian nation but they were soundly rebuffed each time.

There only two mentions of religion in our constitution, both in the negative. Article VI prohibits a religious test in order to hold public office and the First Amendment bars laws “respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”.


  1. Published in the Seguin Gazette Jan 5, 2015

  2. Published in the San Antonio Express News Jan 7, 2015

  3. Published in the New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung Jan 6, 2015

  4. Published in the Wilson County News Jan 7, 2015