“Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
Thus began the first of the Ten Amendments, or Bill of Rights, which were approved SEPTEMBER 25, 1789.
“The Father of the Bill of Rights” was George Mason of Virginia.
When George Washington was chosen to be the Commander of the Continental Army, George Mason was drafted by citizens of Virginia to fill Washington’s place in the Continental Congress.
George Mason wrote the Virginia Declaration of Rights, from which Jefferson drew from to write the Declaration of Independence.
George Mason was one of 55 founders who wrote the U.S. Constitution, but was one of the few who refused to sign it because it did not end the slave trade and did not put enough limits on the Federal Government’s power.
On August 22, 1787, George Mason stated:
“Every master of slaves is born a petty tyrant. They bring the judgment of heaven upon a country. As nations cannot be rewarded or punished in the next world, they must be in this.
By an inevitable chain of causes and effects, Providence punishes national sins, by national calamities.”
George Mason stated before the General Court of Virginia:
“The laws of nature are the laws of God, whose authority can be superseded by no power on earth.”
This phrase of Mason’s was mirrored in the Declaration of Independence as
“the laws of nature and nature’s God.”
George Mason joined with Patrick Henry and Samuel Adams in an effort to prevent the Constitution from being ratified.
They feared that too much power concentrated into the hands of the Federal Government would result in the same trampling of individual rights that King George III perpetrated.
George Mason’s opposition to the Constitution cost him his friendship with George Washington.
When the Constitution was ratified, George Mason led the charge in insisting that in the first session of Congress there should be ten limitations or “Amendments” put in place which would restrict the power of the new Federal Government.
George Mason suggested the wording of the First Amendment be:
“All men have an equal, natural and unalienable right to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and that no particular sect or society of Christians ought to be favored or established by law in preference to others.”
The Moral Liberal contributing editor, William J. Federer, is the bestselling author of “Backfired: A Nation Born for Religious Tolerance no Longer Tolerates Religion,” and numerous other books. A frequent radio and television guest, his daily American Minute is broadcast nationally via radio, television, and Internet. Check out all of Bill’s books here.