The 1786 Lesson That Could Save 2021

Jan 16, 2021 by

by Tony Perkins, FRC:

Now that some of the shock of the last two weeks is starting to wear off, most Americans have the same question: can we actually pick up the pieces and move on? With 80 percent of the country worried the nation is falling apart, there’s a lot of concern that nation’s days are numbered. These are the times when the only way forward is looking back and rallying around the principles that made America exceptional in the first place. Luckily for us, there’s a day this weekend that gives all of us the chance to do just that.

If anyone understood how fragile democracy is, it was Thomas Jefferson. Like everyone else in the country, he experienced some dark days after the revolution. The colonies won, true, but the country was in deep debt — and even deeper disagreement about the kind of government they wanted. To a man, there were moments when they probably wondered if the experiment they’d staked their lives on would survive. But survive it did, thanks to a document we celebrate Saturday: the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom.

Of all the things Jefferson accomplished in his life, he was never prouder than January 16, 1786 when his vision of giving every American the right to practice their faith became a reality. In an era when the government regulated and monitored churches, liturgy, and doctrine, it was a radical idea to suggest that religion wasn’t an issue for the state to regulate — but a personal matter between an individual and God. In fact, it was such a serious departure from the world they knew under British rule that Jefferson wasn’t taken seriously at first. But his persistence paid off, and 10 years later, the statute that paved the way for our First Amendment finally passed the general assembly.

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