Brenna Kiger

The Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom

Written by Thomas Jefferson and passed by the Virginia General Assembly on January 16,1786, the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom was a strongly important document. This document was the forerunner for the First Amendment protections for religious freedom. The Virginia Statute was passed in Virginia due to dissenting religions (Presbyterians, Baptists, and Methodists) petitioned strongly during previous decades for religious liberty. This historical document was a statement about both freedom of conscience as well as principle of church and state separation. When the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom was passed, Virginia became the first state to separate the church and state (still a part of Virginia's Constitution). This document was used as a model for other state's constitutions and religious language in the Bill of Rights.

Impact on the Government

This document, which emphasized the First Amendment to protect religious liberty, keeps the government from privileging or advancing any religion. The Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom separated the church from the state, making it so that any state can practice any religion. Due to this document, the government is not allowed to interfere with these religious practices. The government also cannot pass laws that have primary purpose to advance any one religion, nor promote it.


"Your Right to Practice Any Religion or None At All." Civil Liberties, n.d. Web.

Ragosta, John. "Virginia Statute for Establishing Religious Freedom (1786)." Encyclopedia Virginia. N.p., n.d. Web.

"Thomas Jefferson Biography." N.p., n.d. Web.

"An Introduction to Religious Freedom." Newsroom. The Church of Jesus Christ, 3 Jan. 2012. Web.