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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of Hialeah, 508 U.S. 520, 534–36 (1993). 4 Ibid., 534–36. The district court interpreted the ordinances differently, upholding them, in part, because it found that the Hialeah City Council did not aim to exclude Santeria from the city but rather to end all animal sacrifice practices, regardless of the reasons that motivated them. The district court’s ruling is summarized by the Supreme Court in Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of Hialeah, 508 U.S. 520, 529–30. See also O’Brien, Animal

commitment to the maxim that the state may neither privilege nor penalize citizens on account of their religion. Madison’s Revision of the Virginia Declaration of Rights Madison’s first political contribution to the cause of religious liberty was a proposed amendment to the religion article of the Virginia Declaration of Rights. In the late spring of 1776, Virginia’s Revolutionary Convention moved to adopt a declaration of rights. George Mason’s slightly revised initial draft stated:

sort of experience rather than a doctrine. In this view, sincerity takes the place of right-thinking and -acting.” Gary Rosen, American Compact: James Madison and the Problem of Founding (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1999), 23. 55 Regarding this point, Lance Banning states, Admittedly, this [the “Memorial’s” Christian point of view] may have been a tactical consideration, but it was not a necessary tactic in this situation. I am convinced that Madison consistently adopted tactics

resolve the case, a judge would have to introduce a secondary rule to specify what “safeguarding religious liberty” means, and this secondary rule – and not necessarily the position of any of the Founders – effectively would determine whether prayer in public school violated religious liberty. For any of the Founders’ approaches to determine actual judicial decision-making, their political philosophies must be translated into judicial doctrines that can cover a multitude of different situations

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

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