Separation of Church from Interference by the State

I watched a PBS Documentary entitled, “The Supreme Court’s Holy Battles,” in which George Mason’s Virginia Declaration of Rights is given as a basis for proving “Separation of Church and State.” Is this an accurate statement?

The Introduction to the Companion Guide Book of this documentary film states that, “This publication amplifies the historical information presented in The Supreme Court’s Holy Battles; it also includes background essays on the meaning of the religion clauses.”

However, in quoting George Mason’s 16th and final Article of his famed Virginia Declaration of Rights, the authors of the PBS production had omitted the last sentence: “and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian Forbearance, Love and Charity, towards each other.”

With this key sentence removed, George Mason’s true meaning – “Separation of church from interference by the State” is reversed. Mason’s 16th Article of his Virginia Declaration of Rights, in its entirety, reads as follow:

That Religion, or the Duty which we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only 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.

Article XVI
The Virginia Declaration of Rights

To learn more, click here. (Founders’ book)

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