First Freedom: The Fight for Religious Liberty

Genre: Documentary
84 min

Brian Stokes Mitchell:

In the dawning days

of the American Republic,

a band of remarkable characters

came to

a revolutionary conclusion.

Matthew Holland:
It was

an extraordinary collection

of ingenious people.

They truly were

the best and brightest.

They were very

gifted individuals.

Gordon s. Wood:
Jefferson was

accused of being unchristian.

Well, he said

to himself and his friends,

"what does it matter

whether my neighbor believes

"in 20 gods or no God?

What does it hurt me?"

George Washington was

the most cautious man

that, I think,

I have ever read about.

Forrest church:

Benjamin Franklin,

he believed

in the practicality

of religion,

that religion was a useful tool

to organize society

and keep people loving

their neighbor as themselves.

Doug Brinkley:
James Madison,

well, he liked the idea

of freedom of conscience,

that each individual makes up

their own belief about God.

The first real life test

for religious freedom took place

in the election of 1800

between John Adams

and Thomas Jefferson.


These men and others,


of the American revolution,

saw to it that religion

and religious thought

would be removed completely

from the rule of state

and that instead

it was the state itself

that should be ruled

by the people.

[Singing in hebrew]

This first

separation of church and state

would change

world history forever.

Freedom of religion is

in many ways

the first freedom.

This established

our nation as a nation

where people could honor their

own conscientious convictions

and worship God in the way

that they believed,

in conscience,

God wished to be worshipped.

friends of nci

For many

early English colonists,

the very idea of America rested

on religious freedom.

The puritans hoped

to create utopia

in the new england wilderness,

a place where they could

follow their faith in peace.

Their religion would

create a community.

Man as John winthrop:

We must be knit together

in this work, as one man.

We must entertain each other

in brotherly affection.

We must delight

in each other,

make others' conditions

our own...

John winthrop,

in 1630, led a group

of puritans sailing

from england to Massachusetts.

A brilliant man

and a natural leader,

winthrop had already been

elected as governor

of the new Massachusetts

bay colony,

and he would be reelected

no less than 12 times.

For we must consider that we

shall be as a city upon a hill.

The eyes of all people

are upon us.

As they were leaving,

winthrop gave

a departure sermon,

telling his fellow puritans

that their colony would be

a different kind of society.

It would be a model

of righteousness.

There were some

who have called it

the greatest sermon

of the last thousand years.

That's quite a statement,

but it's something

that stands at the beginning

of our political

civic consciousness.

Winthrop was very purposefully


and he wanted his new colony

to be self-conscious,

to be aware that God

was watching this colony

and that other peoples

around the world

were going to be watching

it as well.

The founders

were all believers in God.

They all had a confidence

that in some sense

God was looking

after the Republic.

A lot of nations,

probably all of them,

think that they're

God's special favorite,

but America has a special sense

of responsibility

regarding itself

as a model,

not a nation that seeks

to conquer so much

as one that wants to be copied.

Governor winthrop was

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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    "First Freedom: The Fight for Religious Liberty" STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 27 Jul 2021. <>.

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