The Pastor\’s Pen

An Independent Baptist Preacher\’s Musings and Observations

A Baptist Preacher’s Influence on the First Amendment

Posted by Pastor Szekely on August 18, 2008

On the “Constitution Route” [Hwy 20 in Virginia] about seven miles east of Orange, VA, there is this interesting monument. On it is the embossed head of John Leland, the influential Baptist preacher and champion of our country’s religious liberty. It is believed that the monument marks the location where James Madison and John Leland met to discuss Madison’s candidacy for Virginia delegate to the Convention to ratify the Federal Constitution.


At that meeting, Leland pressed Madison concerning his stand on religious freedom and individual rights. Madison promised Leland if he was elected, he would do all in his power to see that religious freedom and individual freedom would be incorporated into the Constitution by amendment. Elder John Leland and the Baptists of Orange threw their support behind James Madison who was elected. As expected, he voted in favor of ratification of the Constitution. Then, true to his word, he drafted and introduced twelve amendments to the Constitution.


Article III of Madison’s proposed Bill of Rights reads, “Congress shall make no laws establishing articles of Faith, or mode of worship, or prohibiting the free exercise of religion, or abridging freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition to the government for redress of grievances.”


The members of the Convention condensed Madison’s proposed third article. In fact, they changed it to the First Amendment which reads; “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.”


17 Responses to “A Baptist Preacher’s Influence on the First Amendment”

  1. Most Americans have no idea about this pivotal moment in our history and would be shocked to hear the true stories of those wonderful little Puritans and Pilgrims that persecuted Baptists for their beliefs. The Southern Baptist Convention made a 1 hour, low budget film about Madison and Leland back in the 1950’s called “Magnificent Heritage”. You can find DVD copies of it online.

  2. Kate said

    John Leland is a very famous figure in Virginia. (I have lived in Virginia for 30 years.) We had a gentleman come to our church and perform a one-man skit portraying himself as John Leland. It was quite an eye opener as to how instrumental he was in shaping our country! Praise the Lord for Godly Baptist preachers of old!

  3. Thank you, Bro. D!

    And you are totally right! Many in our country do not know and are not taught THE TRUTH about American History.

    Thanks again for clicking in and for the DVD-recommendation…

    Lord bless!

  4. AMEN, KATE!!!

    That’s great and wonderful to hear that Bro. Leland is well-known in Virginia!

    You gotta love ‘Ole Virginia’!!!

    Praise God for our Godly Baptist Preachers!

    Thanks Kate ~ Lord bless!

  5. Michael said

    Funny how things have gone. Secular folks paint a bullseye on Baptists more than any other for what the see as influencing culture and politics with their faith and yet Baptists are the ones that put that freedom in place to begin with. May we all learn from history to only to refrain from repeating past mistakes but also so that we know how got to where we are today. To God be the glory.


    Thanks for clicking in and commenting…

    Lord bless!

  7. Barb said

    I would like a copy of the film but can’t find it – can anyone tell me where to find it?

  8. G’day Barb!

    Are you talking about the film on Obadiah Holmes, “You Have Struck Me as With Roses”? Please see the trailer here at or at

    Let me know if I can help any further…

    Lord bless!

  9. Pastor Szekely,

    Please visit our web site for the film As with Roses. I know that many people are looking for it, and we are doing our best to let folks know where the film is. If it is possible, could you link to our site off of yours.

    Pastor Mac Woody
    Shiloh Baptist Church

  10. Wilbert Lovins said

    I would like to have the time of the Preacher Meeting in Jan.

    Thank You
    Wilbert Lovins

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