“The opinions of men are not the object of civil government, nor under its jurisdiction.” that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency is a dangerous falacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty, because he being of course judge of that tendency will make his opinions the rule of judgment, and approve or condemn the sentiments of others only as they shall square with or differ from his own; that it is time enough for the rightful purposes of civil government for its officers to interfere when principles break out into overt acts against peace and good order; and finally, that truth is great and will prevail if left to herself; that she is the proper and sufficient antagonist to error, and has nothing to fear from the conflict unless by human interposition disarmed of her natural weapons, free argument and debate; errors ceasing to be dangerous when it is permitted freely to contradict them.”
This is the end of a fascinating document written by Thomas Jefferson on a charter for religious freedom. This was three years after the Declaration of Independance. The starement that opinions of men are not under the jurisdiction of a government is quite interesting in this day and age. The concept that the truth has natural weapons of “free argument and debate”, sounds almost quaint. Jesus claim that he is “the truth” means an overarching interest of his followers is His Spirit’s testimony through the Word rightly preached and taught.