What good deed can government do for religion? The best deed of all: leave it free and unencumbered, burdened by neither enmity nor amity.

— Edwin Gaustad

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Most of the founding fathers, sympathetic with and influenced by the European Enlightenment, saw religion - natural religion, that is - as a potential good, but with equal clarity they saw the religions of existing institutions and religions based on a fixed scriptural revelation as meddlesome, wrong-headed and hopelessly obsolete.

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If history teaches us any lessons at all, it teaches us that force applied to religion creates not a purity of faith but a river of blood.

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Jefferson found in the religion phrases of the First Amendment no vague or fuzzy language to be bent or shaped or twisted as suited any Supreme Court Justice or White House incumbent. That amendment had built a wall, with the ecclesiastical estate on one side and the civil estate on the other.

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One seeks to know the self better in order to know God better.

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