“The Revolutionaries” is the seventh segment in The Courage of Your Faith series. What is meant by separation of church and state? What implications does that have today?
After the Revolutionary War, states faced the need to set up their own governments. Most leaders felt a Christian population was required for good government. Men like Patrick Henry wanted the new Virginia government to impose a tax that would be distributed to all teachers of the Christian religion. This bill would have passed had Baptists not opposed it, taking the stand that a separation of church and state was required.
This idea was so important to them that Baptist John Leland had a “secret” meeting with James Madison concerning the new Constitution of the United States. It was held east of the City of Orange. Baptists would not support the new Constitution unless there was an amendment guaranteeing separation of church and state. Without Baptist support, Madison would not be sent to the Constitutional Convention from Virginia. If Virginia had not voted to accept the Constitution, other states would have followed suit. And the United States would have never have been. A park commemorates this meeting. In the park is a monument to Leland and Madison. The words on the monument are here.