What Is the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom?

The Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom was written by Thomas Jefferson and discusses the idea of separation of church and state. The Virginia General Assembly passed the document as a statute in 1786.

According to the Virginia Historical Society, the statute became a forerunner to what would become the Constitution’s religious rights amendment. Specifically, the document stated that all individuals in the state had a right to religious freedom and it denounced the rule of the English church. The protections covered members of the Jewish faith as well as both Protestant and Catholic Christians. President Jefferson had the statute put on his epitaph along with two of his other accomplishments.