John Leland and the Bill of Rights
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John Leland and the Bill of Rights



Who was the Rev. John Leland? John Leland (1754-1841), was a Baptist preacher whose life involved writing and preaching about the gospel of Jesus Christ and about the proper relationship between religion and government. In the latter passion, Leland agreed with the position of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, both of whom he knew personally. Leland spent approximately 14 years in Virginia from 1776 to approximately 1790-91. He was a major leader of the Baptists in Virginia. He helped Madison by rounding up support for the defeat of the assessment bill in Virginia in 1784-86, threw his support behind ratifying the new constitution after being assured that Madison did favor a Bill of Rights being added, threw his support behind getting Madison elected over Patrick Henry's hand-picked man, James Monroe, to the House of Representatives of the First Federal Congress. He returned to his home state of Massachusetts. in 1790-91, where he remained as an active minister and champion of separation of church and state and disestablishment till his death in 1841. He wrote articles against establishment while in Massachusetts and testified before the Massachusetts legislature on at least one occasion. He and Issac Backus were probably the most famous of those who fought for religious Freedom in New England.



A warning from Rev. Leland
[emphasis added]

. . . Disdain mean suspicion, but cherish manly jealousy; be always jealous of your liberty, your rights. Nip the first bud of intrusion on your constitution. Be not devoted to men; let measures be your object, and estimate men according to the measures they pursue. Never promote men who seek after a state-established religion; it is spiritual tyranny--the worst of despotism. It is turnpiking the way to heaven by human law, in order to establish ministerial gates to collect toll. It converts religion into a principle of state policy, and the gospel into merchandise. Heaven forbids the bans of marriage between church and state; their embraces therefore, must be unlawful. Guard against those men who make a great noise about religion, in choosing representatives. It is electioneering. If they knew the nature and worth of religion, they would not debauch it to such shameful purposes. If pure religion is the criterion to denominate candidates, those who make a noise about it must be rejected; for their wrangle about it, proves that they are void of it. Let honesty, talents and quick despatch, characterise the men of your choice. Such men will have a sympathy with their constituents, and will be willing to come to the light, that their deeds may be examined. . . .








From Wikipedia: To read more click here

  • "The notion of a Christian commonwealth should be exploded forever...Government should protect every man in thinking and speaking freely, and see that one does not abuse another. The liberty I contend for is more than toleration. The very idea of toleration is despicable; it supposes that some have a pre-eminence above the rest to grant indulgence, whereas all should be equally free, Jews, Turks, Pagans and Christians." - A Chronicle of His Time in Virginia.
  • "Truth disdains the aid of law for its defense — it will stand upon its own merits." - Right of Conscience Inalienable.
  • "Every man must give account of himself to God, and therefore every man ought to be at liberty to serve God in a way that he can best reconcile to his conscience. If government can answer for individuals at the day of judgment, let men be controlled by it in religious matters; otherwise, let men be free." - Right of Conscience Inalienable.
  • "Resolved, that slavery is a violent deprivation of rights of nature and inconsistent with a republican government, and therefore, recommend it to our brethren to make use of every legal measure to extirpate this horrid evil from the land; and pray Almighty God that our honorable legislature may have it in their power to proclaim the great jubilee, consistent with the principles of good policy." - Resolution for the General Committee of Virginia Baptists meeting in Richmond, Virginia in 1789.

1 Comment to John Leland and the Bill of Rights:

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Homeowner bill of rights on Friday, February 21, 2014 5:35 AM
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