update: now includes photos from today’s celebrations!
A Very Happy Fourth of July to You and Yours!
The kids all had new duds for the occasion, thanks Gramma!
Please don’t let the freedom FROM religion types convince you that the founding fathers were on their side.
They were not.
Perhaps
as you enjoy your holiday, you might have time to read the text of a
lovely bill, written in 1777 by Thomas Jefferson in Fredricksburg,
Virginia — hometown of George Washington.
In
1786, the Assembly enacted the Virginia Act for Establishing Religious
Freedom into the state’s law. Prior to 1786, the Church of England was
the official religion of Virginia and the practice of Catholicism (and
Judaism and other Protestant denominations) was prohibited.

Frankie was not crazy about the poppers and smoke bombs.
Thanks in part to George Washington (not a Catholic, but a vocal supporter of Catholics) in 1795, St. Mary’s Catholic Church was established in Alexandria, Virginia. 

But he did quite enjoy his deconstructed s’more. He’s super-hip like that.
Jefferson’s
statute was a notable precursor of the Establishment clause and Free
Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to the United States
Constitution.
The Statute for Religious Freedom is one of only three accomplishments Jefferson instructed be put on his tombstone.
(thanks wikipedia!)

The Virginia Act For Establishing Religious Freedom

Thomas Jefferson, 1786

Well aware that Almighty God hath created the mind free; that all attempts
to influence it by temporal punishments or burdens, or by civil incapacitations,
tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and are a departure
from the plan of the Holy Author of our religion, who being Lord both
of body and mind, yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either,
as was in his Almighty power to do; that the impious presumption of
legislators and rulers, civil as well as ecclesiastical, who, being
themselves but fallible and uninspired men, have assumed dominion over
the faith of others, setting up their own opinions and modes of thinking
as the only true and infallible, and as such endeavoring to impose them
on others, hath established and maintained false religions over the
greatest part of the world, and through all time; that to compel a man
to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which
he disbelieves, is sinful and tyrannical; that even the forcing him
to support this or that teacher of his own religious persuasion, is
depriving him of the comfortable liberty of giving his contributions
to the particular pastor whose morals he would make his pattern, and
whose powers he feels most persuasive to righteousness, and is withdrawing
from the ministry those temporal rewards, which proceeding from an approbation
of their personal conduct, are an additional incitement to earnest and
unremitting labors for the instruction of mankind; that our civil rights
have no dependence on our religious opinions, more than our opinions
in physics or geometry; that, therefore, the proscribing any citizen
as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him an incapacity of
being called to the offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess
or renounce this or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously
of those privileges and advantages to which in common with his fellow
citizens he has a natural right; that it tends also to corrupt the principles
of that very religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing, with a monopoly
of worldly honors and emoluments, those who will externally profess
and conform to it; that though indeed these are criminal who do not
withstand such temptation, yet neither are those innocent who lay the
bait in their way; that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his
powers into the field of opinion and to restrain the profession or propagation
of principles, on the supposition of their ill tendency, is a dangerous
fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty, because he being
of course judge of that tendency, will make his opinions the rule of
judgment, and approve or condemn the sentiments of others only as they
shall square with or differ from his own; that it is time enough for
the rightful purposes of civil government, for its officers to interfere
when principles break out into overt acts against peace and good order;
and finally, that truth is great and will prevail if left to herself,
that she is the proper and sufficient antagonist to error, and has nothing
to fear from the conflict, unless by human interposition disarmed of
her natural weapons, free argument and debate, errors ceasing to be
dangerous when it is permitted freely to contradict them.
Be it therefore enacted by the General Assembly, That no man shall
be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place,
or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested,
or burdened 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 nowise diminish, enlarge,
or affect their civil capacities. 

And though we well know this Assembly, elected by the people for
the ordinary purposes of legislation only, have no powers equal to
our own and that therefore to declare this act irrevocable would be
of no effect in law, yet we are free to declare, and do declare, that
the rights hereby asserted are of the natural rights of mankind, and
that if any act shall be hereafter passed to repeal the present or
to narrow its operation, such act will be an infringement of natural
right.

 

Linking up with Cari of Clan Donaldson for her Theme Thursday photography challenge. (But cheating a bit, since my lovely friend Blythe took this picture, it says freedom to me in so many different ways!)