We the General Assembly of Virginia do enact that no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer, on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.People who are trying to restrict the establishment of a mosque anywhere in America would do well to remember that religious freedom is one of the founding principles of this republic. Anyone who criticizes the president for standing firmly for the right of Muslims to build a mosque in lower Manhattan is taking a position that is fundamentally un-American, or at least anti-Jeffersonian. And anyone who thinks the president was being inconsistent by making clear that he was not commenting on whether this is a good place to situate a mosque is not paying attention to what Obama actually said. There is no inconsistency in standing up for people's rights while remaining neutral, or even questioning, whether they are acting wisely. If that is inconsistent, then the First Amendment is inconsistent, because it says exactly the same thing.
Saturday, August 14, 2010
Of all of Thomas Jefferson's achievements, the three he selected to be inscribed on his own tombstone were authoring the Declaration of Independence, founding the University of Virginia, and authoring the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom. This is the main paragraph of that statute: