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The United States Constitution's two religion clauses prohibit Congress from passing laws that establish religion or restrict its free exercise. This Note argues that James Madison and Thomas Jefferson worked to include this language in the Constitution because of their belief that citizens' religious duties were more fundamental than their civic duties. It argues that they intended the Constitution's religion clauses to form a simple dialectic: the government may not force citizens to renounce their religious duties by compelling them to support another faith, nor may it pass laws that act coercively to restrict their religious beliefs and practices. This dialectic ensures a complete separation between church and state, which the rhetoric at the time of the Constitution's adoption clearly reflects.

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27 Vt. L. Rev. 177 (2002).