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James Madison.

[Detail] James Madison.

Historical Issues-Analysis and Decision Making: Madison's Views on Freedom of Religion

Research Madison's view on the free exercise of religion and the separation of church and state. Examine "A Plan of Government," June 8, 1776, and the marginal notes for Section 18 reflecting the amendment he proposed to the wording of the clause on religious toleration. When, in 1785, the Virginia General Assembly proposed a bill to provide funds for "Teachers of the Christian Religion," Madison opposed it, penning the "Memorial and Remonstrance."

In an 1822 letter to Edward Livingston image 134, Madison discusses the importance of maintaining a strict separation between church and state.

Read the letter to Livingston and consider the following questions:

  • How effective are Madison's arguments in favor of religious tolerance and the importance of separation of church and state?
  • How did Madison's views on religious freedom influence his work as a public official?
  • How did Madison's views on religious freedom influence the founding documents of the United States?