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[Library of Congress]
Delegate to the Constitutional Convention (Virginia, did not sign)
Religious Affiliation: Episcopalian
Summary of Religious Views:
Mason served as a vestryman from 1748 to 1785.
Views on Religion & Politics:
George Mason supported the separation of church and state, and in the years immediately after the Declaration of Independence, he worked to end government support of churches in Virginia.
"That as Religion, or the Duty which we owe to our divine and omnipotent Creator, and the Manner of discharging it, can be governed only by Reason and Conviction, not by Force or Violence; and therefore that all Men shou'd enjoy the fullest Toleration in the Exercise of Religion, according to the Dictates of Conscience, unpunished and unrestrained by the Magistrate, unless, under Colour of Religion, any man disturb the Peace, the Happiness, or Safety of Society, or of Individuals. And that it is the mutual Duty of all, to practice Christian Forebearance, Love and Charity towards Each other." -- proposed draft of the Virginia Declaration of Rights
(James Madison found this language too restrictive, and proposed to replace it with a clause advocating complete freedom of religion. The language in the final document was a compromise between Mason's and Madison's proposals.)
"Whereas several oppressive Acts of Parliament respecting Religion have been formerly enacted, and Doubts have arisen and may hereafter arise whether the same are in Force within this Common-Wealth or not, for Prevention whereof Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the Common-Wealth of Virginia, and it is hereby enacted by the Authority of the same, That all and every Act or Statute either of the Parliament of England, or of Great Britain, by whatsoever Title known or distinguished, which renders criminal the maintaining of any Opinions in Matters of Religion, forbearing to repair to Church, or the exercising any Mode of worship whatsoever, or which prescribes punishments for the same, shall henceforth be of no Validity or Force within this Common-Wealth." -- Amendment to the Bill Exempting Dissenters from Contributions to the Established Church (Virginia), 5 Dec. 1776
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