Even though Americans celebrate Independence Day each year, it’s sometimes easy to forget the depth of a word like “liberty.”

Men fought and died so America could be free, but for them liberty was intertwined with the God of liberty.

It’s a sad fact of history: Christians fleeing the Old World to practice their own religion often turned right around and persecuted fellow Americans from other denominations.

They wanted theirs to be the recognized state church, ruling over all others. But watching that persecution outraged future leaders like James Madison.

“As late as the early 1770s, you have Baptist preachers who are getting thrown in jail for illegal preaching in Virginia,” Thomas Kidd, author of God of Liberty, said. “And James Madison as a young man watches this going on, and he thinks its despicable.”

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