In his piece for today’s On the Square , James R. Rogers discusses an early argument over the proper roles of Church and State—one involving Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison:

Thomas Jefferson and James Madison squared off against Patrick Henry and his bill for “Establishing A Provision for Teachers of the Christian Religion” for Virginia in the mid-1780s. Jefferson and Madison won the day, and the Virginia legislature did not enact Henry’s bill.

This was no simple anti-religious victory. In an ironic twist, Henry’s argument in support of religious establishment breathes more of secular modernity than Jefferson and Madison’s arguments. Jefferson and Madison made extensive appeal to theological principles—principles largely consistent with Anabaptist claims—while Henry limited his argument in the bill’s preamble to the temporal benefits the policy would generate for civil society.

Read the rest here .

If you are anything like me, you probably wondered if you can pitch this story to Sherman Edwards , the songwriter who brought us 1776 . Unfortunately, Edwards is no longer with us. Perhaps an enterprising ROFTer can seize on this opportunity.

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