God and the Founders: Madison, Washington, and Jefferson

God and the Founders: Madison, Washington, and Jefferson

Vincent Phillip Muñoz

Language: English

Pages: 209


Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Did the Founding Fathers intend to build a "wall of separation" between church and state? Are public Ten Commandments displays or the phrase "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance consistent with the Founders' understandings of religious freedom? In God and the Founders, Dr. Vincent Phillip Muñoz answers these questions by providing new, comprehensive interpretations of James Madison, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson. By analyzing Madison's, Washington's, and Jefferson's public documents, private writings, and political actions, Muñoz explains the Founders' competing church-state political philosophies. Muñoz explores how Madison, Washington, and Jefferson agreed and disagreed by showing how their different principles of religious freedom would decide the Supreme Court's most important First Amendment religion cases. God and the Founders answers the question, "What would the Founders do?" for the most pressing church-state issues of our time, including prayer in public schools, government support of religion, and legal burdens on individual's religious conscience.

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violate justice by at once taking away a right and prohibiting compensation for it? does it not in fine violate impartiality by shutting the door against the Ministers of Religion and leaving it open for those of every other.81 To single out ministers for exclusion from political office penalizes them on account of religion. It is to act on the basis of religion, which is what the principle of religious liberty forbids. Here again Madison requires the law to be blind to the religious

Press, 2000), 90–110. 27 McConnell, “Origins and Historical Understanding,” 1462. 28 Ibid., 1463. 29 Ibid., 1462–63. McConnell’s history on this point suffers from his reliance on Sanford Cobb’s The Rise of Religious Liberty in America (New York: Macmillan, 1902), 491–92, which offers an incomplete account of Madison’s proposed revisions to Mason’s text. What McConnell presents as Mason’s original proposal is actually a slightly amended committee version of Mason’s initial draft.

maintain military chaplains at the regiment level exemplify how he thought government could and should support religion yet maintain respect for the individual’s right of conscience. He included within the right of conscience the right not to be compelled to practice a mode of worship that one does not profess. He did not extend this to a more general right to abstain from worship, however, for he did command his soldiers to attend religious services. But if military superiors expected their

different sects. And while some books of the Hebrew Bible lie within the traditions of Judaism, Catholicism, and Protestantism, they do not belong to other religions such as Buddhism and Hinduism. For these reasons, the Lord’s Prayer and Bible readings might be considered to be inherently sectarian and, consequently, constitutionally impermissible. Jefferson himself, furthermore, specifically sought to prevent elementary age children from reading the Bible because he feared that belief in the

and to encourage students to consider what a personal relationship with Jesus Christ means.”31 A five-member Court majority ruled in favor of the Christian students under the Free Speech Clause, citing the government’s obligation to be “viewpoint neutral” when regulating speech.32 The four dissenting judges – Justices Stevens, Souter, Breyer, and Ginsburg – found the university’s exclusion of religious groups from student activity funds to be required by the Establishment Clause.33 A similar

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