Establishing Religious Freedom: Jefferson's Statute in Virginia

Establishing Religious Freedom: Jefferson's Statute in Virginia

by Thomas E. Buckley
     
 

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

Overview

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.

Editorial Reviews

Donald Drakeman
Thomas Buckley has provided in this book—by far—the deepest and most comprehensive analysis of what many believe is the political and religious foundation of the First Amendment. His careful attention to primary sources, his fluid writing style, and his rare ability to derive his interpretation from the facts themselves are all brought to bear on this fascinating story of how Virginians wrestled with Jefferson’s now-iconic statute over the course of more than a century. This is new, important, and really interesting.

Sarah Barringer Gordon
A brilliant book—Buckley’s most wide-ranging work to date on church and state in Virginia. Establishing Religious Freedom deepens and adds texture to a story that others have overlooked or oversimplified. Buckley’s book will immediately become the go-to source in the field.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780813935034
Publisher:
University of Virginia Press
Publication date:
01/13/2014
Pages:
376
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Thomas E. Buckley, Professor in Residence in the Department of History of Loyola Marymount University, is the author of Church and State in Revolutionary Virginia, 1776-1787 (Virginia).

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >