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Resolution Respecting Baptist Petition, 1775


After the Revolutionary War began, Virginia began to raise a militia for defense. Baptist leaders petitioned the third Virginia Revolutionary Convention requesting permission for Baptist ministers to preach to soldiers who did not wish to attend religious services conducted by chaplains from the Church of England. Patrick Henry drafted this resolution to allow “dissenting clergymen” to conduct religious services for soldiers. By allowing its soldiers a choice in their religious services and not choosing one denomination over another, Virginia was taking a step toward the separation of church and state.

Citation:Resolution Respecting Baptist Petition. Undated draft resolution in the handwriting of Patrick Henry, adopted by the Third Virginia Convention on August 16, 1775. Papers of the Third Virginia Convention, Revolutionary Government. Record Group 2. Library of Virginia.



Suggested Questions

Analyze: What are possible motivations for allowing freedom of religion in the military? What are possible repercussions of religious diversity in the military?