Tag Archives: Virginia legislature

82 – March – 23 – THIS DAY IN BAPTIST HISTORY PAST



Jerry Falwell
Liberty won and lost
1660 or 61’ – The Vestry Law was adopted in the colony of Virginia that provided that two church wardens would be chosen annually from a vestry of twelve to take the oath of supremacy to the British Sovereign, and subscribe (to) the doctrine and discipline of the Church of England.”  This was for the purpose to collect the “glebe” from every “tithable” person regardless of sect.  The “glebe” was that parcel set aside for the Anglican minister and his family which included at least 200 acres, a mansion with a kitchen, a barn, stables, a dairy, a meat house, a corn house, and a fenced in garden.  The Baptists strongly resisted such taxation in several colonies where it was levied.  There were those who strongly desired for these laws to continue even into the Commonwealth of Virginia, after the Declaration of Independence, one of such was Patrick Henry, who had been a champion of liberty, even on behalf of the Baptists.   The Baptists, believing that true religion did not need to be propped up by the state continued the pressure until the Virginia Legislature passed an act in 1799 that said that all religion would be a matter of the conscience and that incorporation of any religious society was in violation of religious liberty.  Churches were not incorporated in Virginia until Jerry Falwell brought suit against the state and won in 2002.  How sad that a Baptist would destroy the very liberty that his Baptist forefathers suffered to gain.  The final victory came in 1802 when a law was passed to sell all of the “glebes” and return the money to the people.  That was the final nail that was driven into the coffin of the state church.  Now we have come full circle where we have a state/church set up once again through the tax-exempt (501 (c) (3) church and incorporation.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon, from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson /, pp. 118. (Editor is responsible for commentary regarding Falwell and the tax-exempt state/church.)
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19 – January 19 – THIS DAY IN BAPTIST HISTORY PAST


 

Baptists the Authors of Liberty

 

1776 – The Virginia Statue of Religious Liberty was passed. The struggle was so intense that it took ten years of lobbying and petitioning the legislature (the Baptists had three representing them at one time). Thomas Jefferson stated that it was the most fiercely contested piece of legislation of his entire political career. There was also great contention relating to taxation for the support of state church clergy. At one point, Baptist preachers, Jeremiah Moore, Jeremiah Walker, and John Young, delivered a petition with 10,000 signatures to the Virginia legislature in Richmond opposing the general assessment plan for the support of religious teachers. It was the defeat of this legislation that finally paved the way for Jefferson’s statute. William Warren Sweet, in his Story of Religion in America, is justified in saying, “Religious freedom had triumphed in Virginia and was soon to spread throughout the nation and a few years later, in the form of the First Amendment to the Federal Constitution, was to become a part of the fundamental law of the land. Thomas Jefferson, Author of the Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom was so proud of those accomplishments that he asked that it be recorded on his gravestone. But justice compels the admission that Jefferson’s part in the First Amendment was not as great as James Madison, because of the fact that he was in France during that period. Neither were the contributions of either or both as important as was that of the humble people called Baptists.  The Baptists preached, petitioned, and suffered persecution. God used these humble people to have religious liberty as a fundamental principle of our society in the two great documents mentioned above.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon; adapted from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 25-26.

 

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