Who’s gonna pay the preacher?

THOMAS JEFFERSON LEADERSHIP

Whereas by a late act of General assembly … it is left to the members of each religious society to employ such teachers as they think fit … and to maintain the same by their free and voluntary contributions: We the subscribers …  do hereby oblige ourselves … pay to the said [clergyman] Charles Clay of Albemarle … the several sums affixed to our respective names on the 25th day of December next, and also to make the like annual paiment on the 25th. day of December in every year following until we shall withdraw the same …

Source: Subscription to Support a Clergyman in Charlottesville, February 1777

Patrick Lee’s Explanation

Humble leaders value spiritual encouragement.
This lengthy document, written from a draft prepared by Jefferson, makes these points, central to his views of religion:
1. Each religious group is free to employ and support their own teachers.
2. While pledging to support this minister, we profess affection for those “who happen to differ from us in points of conscience…”
3. We need the encouragement and support of our church and its teachers.
4. The clergyman has devoted time, labor and expense to become our teacher.
5. We should support him by “free and voluntary contributions.”

Nineteen names followed this declaration along with an annual pledge amount, Jefferson’s name tops the list. His pledge was more than double anyone else’s. The annual payments were to be made on Christmas day.

Virginia still had an “official” tax supported church and would for another decade until Jefferson’s dis-establishment law was adopted. The provision above was to support the church he wanted to, in addition to the one he was required to.


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The Moral Liberal Thomas Jefferson Editor, Patrick Lee, is a professional speaker, actor and writer. Since 1990, he has inspired, entertained and educated audiences from Maine to Hawaii with his authentic, first person leadership presentations as President Thomas Jefferson, Frontiersman Daniel Boone, and Lewis & Clark Co-Leader William Clark. He also appears as himself, The Hopeful Humorist™, with a program of motivational humor, patriotism and inspiration.

His business address is ThomasJeffersonLeadership.com.