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by Brent Walker

The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States asserts that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” The initial statement of this amendment boldly asserts that religious freedom is the “first freedom” of the American people. The BJC stands guard, defending the first freedom of the First Amendment.

Brent Walker identifies the historical and theological principles that undergird freedom of religion. In doing so, he challenges the myth that religious freedom and church-state separation are rooted only in the ideas of the Enlightenment. Religious persons with spiritual convictions preceded the Enlightenment years, though most Enlightenment leaders certainly embraced and advocated religious freedom.


About the Author

J. Brent Walker is executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty in Washington, D.C., and is both a member of the Supreme Court Bar and an ordained minister. Walker earned undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Florida, a law degree from Stetson University College of Law, and a Master of Divinity Degree from Southern Seminary. He has been published widely and routinely provides commentary on church-state issues in the national media. Walker and his wife, Nancy, have two children and two grandchildren.


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