In the history of church-state separation, certain dates are special: On Dec. 15, 1791, the Bill of Rights was officially ratified. On Jan. 1, 1802, Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter to the Danbury (Conn.) Baptists containing the famous "wall of separation between church and state" metaphor. The U.S. Supreme Court spoke strongly in favor of separation in Everson v. Board of Education, issued on Feb. 10, 1947.
Today is Religious Freedom Day. Why is this day important? Consider the following story: In 380 A.D., three Roman emperors of the east and west issued a joint edict on religion.
In February of 1811, President James Madison vetoed a congressional bill incorporating an Episcopal church in Washington, D.C. Citing the First Amendment, Madison said the measure "exceeds the rightful authority to which governments are limited by the essential distinction between civil and religious functions."
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