James Madison's Defense of Religious Freedom - January 24
- 2013 24 Jan
James Madison's defense of religious freedom began when he stood with his father outside a jail in the village of Orange and heard Baptists preach from their cell windows. Madison wrote of another incident to William Bradford, JANUARY 24, 1774: "There are at this time in the adjacent Culpepper County not less than 5 or 6 well meaning men in jail for publishing their religious sentiments which in the main are very orthodox." Madison helped pass the Virginia Bill of Rights, which stated: "Religion, or the Duty which we owe our Creator, and the Manner of discharging it, can be directed only by Reason and Convictions, not by Force or Violence; and therefore all Men are equally entitled to the free exercise of Religion, according to the Dictates of Conscience; and that it is the mutual Duty of all to practice Christian Forbearance, Love, and Charity towards each other." As President, James Madison wrote July 23, 1813: "If the public homage of a people can ever be worthy of the favorable regard of the Holy and Omniscient Being to whom it is addressed, it must be...guided only by their free choice...as proving that religion, that gift of Heaven for the good of man, is freed from all coercive edicts."