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Jefferson's epitaph: A legacy of liberty page 2
Jefferson's Legacy of Religious Liberty, by Mary Walsh

 Jefferson listed the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom as one of his three crowning accomplishments.
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Date published: 1/13/2013


In other words, Jefferson was well aware of the historical precedent of government abuse of its citizens by confiscatory taxation whether in money or goods on account of religious belief. The taxation of subjects into submission was something Jefferson was striving to prevent. He sought to establish that the heavy sword of government would not crack the consciences of its subjects merely because of its weight. Authority to violate conscience was not a right assigned to the government by the people.

This statute laid the foundation for the First Amendment: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."


Why was this statute of religious freedom necessary? There is nothing new under the sun. One need only look to efforts by the Obama administration to force Hobby Lobby to pay fines of $1.3 million a day to force it to abandon conscience and pay for abortions and abortifacient drugs or else suffer the loss of its business by punitive taxation.

This is precisely why the administration is finding itself in court--for violating the freedom and conscience of its citizens. Tom Monaghan, founder of Domino's Pizza, also filed suit and was given an emergency stay. The same type of lawsuit that produces two vastly different outcomes in response to a threat against religious liberty is indicative of a justice system unmoored from its basic tenet of religious liberty and freedom of conscience.

In a letter to Lifesite News, David Green, CEO and founder of Hobby Lobby, writes: "Our government threatens to fine job creators in a bad economy. Our government threatens to fine a company that's raised wages four years running. Our government threatens to fine a family for running its business according to its beliefs. It's not right. I know people will say we ought to follow the rules; that it's the same for everybody. But that's not true. The government has exempted thousands of companies from this mandate, for reasons of convenience or cost. But it won't exempt them for reasons of religious belief."

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Mary Walsh is a freelance writer in Spotsylvania County.