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The bill is opposed by many who believe religion is essential to the cultivation of a moral citizenry and that religion will wither away without state support.
In 1784, Patrick Henry introduces a bill that would impose a tax to support churches but would allow citizens to designate the church their taxes would support; the following year James Madison writes "Memorial and Remonstrance," a widely circulated pamphlet that makes a strong case against state-supported religion.
Like the Pilgrims, the English Puritans believe that the Church of England is corrupt.
Unlike the Pilgrims, they do not break with the church, but remain a part of it.
Following his arrest for preaching without a license, Baptist Jeremiah Moore preaches to crowds through the bars of his jail cell.
In October, he delivers a petition to the Virginia State Assembly -- signed by 10,000 dissidents -- demanding that Baptists be able to freely worship without fear of prosecution.
Other religions, termed "dissenting religions," do not have freedom of worship.
By the time of the Revolutionary War, nine colonies have established state religions.
As the Baptist faith gains popularity, Virginia authorities begin to crack down.Williams' colony of Providence guarantees freedom of conscience and becomes a haven for religious dissidents.Outspoken, opinionated and well versed in the Bible, Hutchinson accuses the ministers of the Massachusetts Bay Colony of teaching false doctrine and asserts that God has spoken to her directly -- a claim considered heresy in Puritan theology.Ministers such as George Whitefield and Jonathan Edwards encourage individuals to make an immediate, intense and personal connection with the Divine.This emphasis on personal choice threatens to undermine the authority of ministers in established churches.