Discussion Questions

The following sets of discussion questions correspond with each major topic within the Danbury Letter context.

Thomas Jefferson & Religious Freedom

  1. Did Thomas Jefferson’s political beliefs correspond to and/or affect his views on religious freedom? How so?
  2. Did Thomas Jefferson’s personal religious beliefs affect his views on religious freedom? How so?
  3. What is Jeffersonian Democracy, what are the ideals, and what political party would these ideals match up with today?

The Great Awakening & the Danbury Letter

  1. How do you think the Great Awakening influenced the incoming struggles for religious liberty?
  2. What was the cause of the persecution of the Baptists, and what was their response? Why might the Baptists have been the most persecuted Protestant denomination?
  3. Why do you think the Danbury Baptists chose to address their concerns to Thomas Jefferson, and do you think the timing of their letter had any influence?

The Danbury Letter & the U.S. Supreme Court

  1. How has the Danbury Letter been most frequently used in Supreme Court cases?
  2. Do you think it matters that Jefferson’s phrase “a wall of separation between Church and State” is not in the constitution? Does this change the way we ought to interpret the First Amendment?
  3. Does the way the supreme court has applied the Danbury Letter seem to have limited free exercise of religion? Why or why not?