In Virginia, in 1786, the General Assembly passed Thomas Jefferson’s Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom. This document would later serve as the foundation for the First Amendment protections of religious freedom, which state that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” These clauses guarantee two complementary protections: the government is prohibited from interfering with religious belief and expression, and the government can neither prefer belief over non-belief nor favor particular faiths over others. 
Today, freedom of religion and belief remains one of our most cherished liberties. The ACLU of Virginia strives to safeguard these First Amendment protections by ensuring that the laws and policies of the Commonwealth allow religious liberty to thrive and by shielding both religion and government from undue influences on the other.