Elder John Leland 

March 29, 1830

SIR:—For forty years, next to the salvation of the soul, the rights of conscience have been articles of my highest solicitude. Not only that all sects and societies should be placed on a level, but that each lonely individual should have equal favor, and not be obliged to join any society to escape disabilities or oppression. Indeed, I stand pledged, that as long as I can use my tongue or pen, I will never lie dormant when religious liberty is in jeopardy. The report speaks for itself. If it can be bettered, I know not in which particular. It breaths the language of John Milton, Roger Williams, William Penn, Thomas Jefferson, etc., and, I think it is in perfect accordance with the letter and spirit of the New Testament. It has my unqualified approbation.

The report of the minority of the committee comes in company with the other. After what I have said, it will not be expected that I shall approve of the whole of it. It discards the idea of any theological controversy, and yet, in the very beginning, it lays the foundation of a religious war. There never was a Christian nation on earth, before the days of Constantine, who opened the flood-gates of error, and set Christians at war with each other.

How often is it, when we halt in the face of great opposition, from doing that which is right or standing for that which is just for all; thinking that we, being one, could make no difference in great matters?

Were it not for the diligence and persistence of this one Old Baptist Elder, we well might not, indeed probably would not have “Freedom of Religion” included in the First Amendment of our Constitution: Giving every citizen of these United States the constitutional right to worship God according to their conscience.

Every one of us, from least to greatest, can make a difference by standing true to the calling placed upon us.