The Anniversary of the Virginia Declaration of Rights

On this date in 1776, the Virginia Declaration of Rights was adopted by the Virginia legislature, preceding the Virginia State Constitution by a few days.  The portion dealing with religious liberty was drafted by James Madison and is generally considered to be an important antecedent to the federal constitutional right of free exercise of religion (adopted in 1791).  Here is the text of Article XVI:

That religion, or the duty which we owe to our Creator and the manner of discharging it, can be directed by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and therefore, all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity towards each other.

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