Religious Freedom

Author: John A. Ragosta
Publisher: University of Virginia Press
ISBN: 0813933706
Format: PDF, ePub, Docs
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Offers a defense of Thomas Jefferson's advocacy for a strict separation of church and state by examining his views on religious freedom. Shows how the First Amendment's focus on maintaining the authority of states to regulate religious freedom demonstrates that Jefferson demanded a firm separation of church and state within the United States but never sought a wholly secular public square.

Religious Freedom

Author: John Ragosta
Publisher: University of Virginia Press
ISBN: 0813933714
Format: PDF, Mobi
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For over one hundred years, Thomas Jefferson and his Statute for Establishing Religious Freedom have stood at the center of our understanding of religious liberty and the First Amendment. Jefferson’s expansive vision—including his insistence that political freedom and free thought would be at risk if we did not keep government out of the church and church out of government—enjoyed a near consensus of support at the Supreme Court and among historians, until Justice William Rehnquist called reliance on Jefferson "demonstrably incorrect." Since then, Rehnquist’s call has been taken up by a bevy of jurists and academics anxious to encourage renewed government involvement with religion. In Religious Freedom: Jefferson’s Legacy, America’s Creed, the historian and lawyer John Ragosta offers a vigorous defense of Jefferson’s advocacy for a strict separation of church and state. Beginning with a close look at Jefferson’s own religious evolution, Ragosta shows that deep religious beliefs were at the heart of Jefferson’s views on religious freedom. Basing his analysis on that Jeffersonian vision, Ragosta redefines our understanding of how and why the First Amendment was adopted. He shows how the amendment’s focus on maintaining the authority of states to regulate religious freedom demonstrates that a very strict restriction on federal action was intended. Ultimately revealing that the great sage demanded a firm separation of church and state but never sought a wholly secular public square, Ragosta provides a new perspective on Jefferson, the First Amendment, and religious liberty within the United States.

From Jamestown to Jefferson

Author: Paul Rasor
Publisher: University of Virginia Press
ISBN: 0813931185
Format: PDF, Mobi
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From Jamestown to Jefferson sheds new light on the contexts surrounding Thomas Jefferson’s Statute for Religious Freedom—and on the emergence of the American understanding of religious freedom—by examining its deep roots in colonial Virginia’s remarkable religious diversity. Challenging traditional assumptions about life in early Virginia, the essays in this volume show that the colony was more religious, more diverse, and more tolerant than commonly supposed. The presence of groups as disparate as Quakers, African and African American slaves, and Presbyterians, alongside the established Anglicans, generated a dynamic tension between religious diversity and attempts at hegemonic authority that was apparent from Virginia’s earliest days. The contributors, all renowned scholars of Virginia history, treat in detail the complex interactions among Virginia’s varied religious groups, both in and out of power, as well as the seismic changes unleashed by the Statute’s adoption in 1786. From Jamestown to Jefferson suggests that the daily religious practices and struggles that took place in the town halls, backwoods settlements, plantation houses, and slave quarters that dotted the colonial Virginia landscape helped create a social and political space within which a new understanding of religious freedom, represented by Jefferson’s Statute, could emerge. Contributors:Edward L. Bond, Alabama A&M University * Richard E. Bond, Virginia Wesleyan College * Thomas E. Buckley, Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University/Graduate Theological Union * Daniel L. Dreisbach, American University, School of Public Affairs * Philip D. Morgan, Johns Hopkins University * Monica Najar, Lehigh University * Paul Rasor, Virginia Wesleyan College * Brent Tarter, Library of Virginia

American Sphinx

Author: Joseph J. Ellis
Publisher: Vintage
ISBN: 9780375727467
Format: PDF
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Following Thomas Jefferson from the drafting of the Declaration of Independence to his retirement in Monticello, Joseph J. Ellis unravels the contradictions of the Jeffersonian character. He gives us the slaveholding libertarian who was capable of decrying mescegenation while maintaing an intimate relationship with his slave, Sally Hemmings; the enemy of government power who exercisdd it audaciously as president; the visionarty who remained curiously blind to the inconsistencies in his nature. American Sphinx is a marvel of scholarship, a delight to read, and an essential gloss on the Jeffersonian legacy.

Wellspring of Liberty

Author: John A. Ragosta
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 9780199779925
Format: PDF, Mobi
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Before the American Revolution, no colony more assiduously protected its established church or more severely persecuted religious dissenters than Virginia. Both its politics and religion were dominated by an Anglican establishment, and dissenters from the established Church of England were subject to numerous legal infirmities and serious persecution. By 1786, no state more fully protected religious freedom. This profound transformation, as John A. Ragosta shows in this book, arose not from a new-found cultural tolerance. Rather, as the Revolution approached, Virginia's political establishment needed the support of the religious dissenters, primarily Presbyterians and Baptists, for the mobilization effort. Dissenters seized this opportunity to insist on freedom of religion in return for their mobilization. Their demands led to a complex and extended negotiation in which the religious establishment slowly and grudgingly offered just enough reforms to maintain the crucial support of the dissenters. After the war, when dissenters' support was no longer needed, the establishment leaders sought to recapture control, but found they had seriously miscalculated: wartime negotiations had politicized the dissenters. As a result dissenters' demands for the separation of church and state triumphed over the establishment's efforts and Jefferson's Statute for Establishing Religious Freedom was adopted. Historians and the Supreme Court have repeatedly noted that the foundation of the First Amendment's protection of religious liberty lies in Virginia's struggle, turning primarily to Jefferson and Madison to understand this. In Wellspring of Liberty, John A. Ragosta argues that Virginia's religious dissenters played a seminal, and previously underappreciated, role in the development of the First Amendment and in the meaning of religious freedom as we understand it today.

Patrick Henry

Author: John A. Ragosta
Publisher: Routledge
ISBN: 1317691326
Format: PDF, ePub
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Often referred to as "the voice of the Revolution," Patrick Henry played a vital role in helping to launch the revolt of the American colonies against British rule. An early and compelling Revolutionary orator, Henry played an active part in the debates over the founding of the United States. As a leading anti-federalist, he argued against the ratification of the Constitution, and at the state level, he opposed Thomas Jefferson’s Statute of Religious Freedom in Virginia. In both his political triumphs and defeats, Henry was influential in establishing the nature of public discourse for a generation of new Americans. In this concise biography, John A. Ragosta explores Henry’s life and his contributions to shaping the character of the new nation, placing his ideas in the context of his times. Supported by primary documents and a supplementary companion website, Patrick Henry: Proclaiming a Revolution gives students of the American Revolution and early Republic an insightful and balanced understanding of this often misunderstood American founder.

Establishing Religious Freedom

Author: Thomas E. Buckley
Publisher: University of Virginia Press
ISBN: 0813935040
Format: PDF, Mobi
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The significance of the Virginia Statute for Establishing Religious Freedom goes far beyond the borders of the Old Dominion. Its influence ultimately extended to the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the separation of church and state. In his latest book, Thomas Buckley tells the story of the statute, beginning with its background in the struggles of the colonial dissenters against an oppressive Church of England. When the Revolution forced the issue of religious liberty, Thomas Jefferson drafted his statute and James Madison guided its passage through the state legislature. Displacing an established church by instituting religious freedom, the Virginia statute provided the most substantial guarantees of religious liberty of any state in the new nation. The statute's implementation, however, proved to be problematic. Faced with a mandate for strict separation of church and state--and in an atmosphere of sweeping evangelical Christianity--Virginians clashed over numerous issues, including the legal ownership of church property, the incorporation of churches and religious groups, Sabbath observance, protection for religious groups, Bible reading in school, and divorce laws. Such debates pitted churches against one another and engaged Virginia’s legal system for a century and a half. Fascinating history in itself, the effort to implement Jefferson’s statute has even broader significance in its anticipation of the conflict that would occupy the whole country after the Supreme Court nationalized the religion clause of the First Amendment in the 1940s.

Doubting Thomas

Author: Mark Beliles
Publisher: Morgan James Publishing
ISBN: 1630471518
Format: PDF, Mobi
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Thomas Jefferson and the founding fathers intended a strict separation of church and state, right? He would have been very upset to find out about a child praying in a public school or a government building used for religious purposes, correct? Actually, the history on this has been very distorted. While Jefferson may seem to be the Patron Saint of the ACLU, his words and actions showed that he would totally disagree with the idea of driving God out of the public square. Doubting Thomas documents that. . . * Jefferson said that our rights come from God. God-given rights are non-negotiables. * At the time that he wrote the Declaration of Independence and the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom---major contributions to human and religious rights—Jefferson served diligently as a vestryman (like an elder and a deacon rolled into one) for the Episcopal Church. * In 1777, he wrote up the charter for the Calvinistical Reformed Church in his town with an evangelical preacher, the Rev. Charles Clay--with whom he had a lifelong friendship. Jefferson was the biggest single contributor to this fledgling congregation. * Jefferson had nothing but the highest praise for Jesus’ teaching, which he studied religiously (even in the original Greek), in order to pattern his life after that which he called “the most sublime and benevolent code of morals which has ever been offered to man.” * As president, he attended church on a regular basis at the US Capitol building, even sometimes recommending preachers to fill that pulpit. * He had many positive relationships with orthodox clergymen and active lay Christians. * He actively supported Christian causes, financially, in ways that would put the average Christian to shame. * He set out to create a non-denominational college that accommodated Christian groups of different stripes. And on it goes. Historical revisionism has distorted the religious views of Thomas Jefferson, making him far more skeptical than he was. But there is no doubt that by the end of his life, he seemed to privately embrace Unitarian views of the Christian faith, while outwardly supporting and attending his local Trinitarian church. Thus, a legacy of Jefferson’s has been taken out of context and used to squelch religious freedom in America. Ironically, religious freedom was one of Jefferson’s core beliefs and contributions. But this is being turned on its head. Chiseled in stone at the Jefferson Memorial are his famous words: “The God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the Gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath?” Regardless of Jefferson’s private religious views, he stood solidly against the state making theological decisions for its people. Therefore, he would stand solidly against the anti-Christian crusade being carried out in his name today. It’s time to set the record straight.

Hamilton Adams Jefferson

Author: Darren Staloff
Publisher: Macmillan
ISBN: 080905356X
Format: PDF, ePub
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The author compares the intellectual understanding of the Enlightenment of Alexander Hamilton, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson, and shows how the personal experiences and regional cultural traditions of each man shaped his interpretation of that movement and how those ideals played into the birth of the new nation.

Thomas Jefferson s Qur an

Author: Denise A. Spellberg
Publisher: Vintage
ISBN: 0385350538
Format: PDF, ePub, Mobi
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In this original and illuminating book, Denise A. Spellberg reveals a little-known but crucial dimension of the story of American religious freedom—a drama in which Islam played a surprising role. In 1765, eleven years before composing the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson bought a Qur’an. This marked only the beginning of his lifelong interest in Islam, and he would go on to acquire numerous books on Middle Eastern languages, history, and travel, taking extensive notes on Islam as it relates to English common law. Jefferson sought to understand Islam notwithstanding his personal disdain for the faith, a sentiment prevalent among his Protestant contemporaries in England and America. But unlike most of them, by 1776 Jefferson could imagine Muslims as future citizens of his new country. Based on groundbreaking research, Spellberg compellingly recounts how a handful of the Founders, Jefferson foremost among them, drew upon Enlightenment ideas about the toleration of Muslims (then deemed the ultimate outsiders in Western society) to fashion out of what had been a purely speculative debate a practical foundation for governance in America. In this way, Muslims, who were not even known to exist in the colonies, became the imaginary outer limit for an unprecedented, uniquely American religious pluralism that would also encompass the actual despised minorities of Jews and Catholics. The rancorous public dispute concerning the inclusion of Muslims, for which principle Jefferson’s political foes would vilify him to the end of his life, thus became decisive in the Founders’ ultimate judgment not to establish a Protestant nation, as they might well have done. As popular suspicions about Islam persist and the numbers of American Muslim citizenry grow into the millions, Spellberg’s revelatory understanding of this radical notion of the Founders is more urgent than ever. Thomas Jefferson’s Qur’an is a timely look at the ideals that existed at our country’s creation, and their fundamental implications for our present and future.