The Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom DBQ

Duration: 60-180 min

Students will explore primary sources to gain a full understanding of the context, content, and lasting impact of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom. Students will evaluate primary source documents and then construct a 5 paragraph essay on the topic. If time is an issue, students will analyze the documents, and then the group will share the evidence in discussion, rather than essay.

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Handouts (PDF Format)
  • VA Statute for Religious Freedom Personal Response Rubric     View  |  Download
  • VA Statute for Religious Freedom Lesson Plan Construction     View  |  Download
  • VA Statute for Religious Freedom - DBQ Essay Checklist     View  |  Download

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Grade Level

High School

Type of Lesson

Document Analysis


USVA History

VUS.1          The student will demonstrate skills for historical and geographical analysis and responsible citizenship, including the ability to

  1. a) identify, analyze, and interpret primary and secondary source documents, records, and data, including artifacts, diaries, letters, photographs, journals, newspapers, historical accounts, and art, to increase understanding of events and life in the United States;
  2. b) evaluate the authenticity, authority, and credibility of sources;
  3. c) formulate historical questions and defend findings, based on inquiry and interpretation;
  4. d) develop perspectives of time and place, including the construction of maps and various timelines of events, periods, and personalities in American history;
  5. e) communicate findings orally and in analytical essays or comprehensive papers;
  6. f) develop skills in discussion, debate, and persuasive writing with respect to enduring issues and determine how divergent viewpoints have been addressed and reconciled;
  7. h) interpret the significance of excerpts from famous speeches and other documents;


VUS.5          The student will demonstrate knowledge of the issues involved in the creation and ratification of the Constitution of the United States and how the principles of limited government, consent of the governed, and the social contract are embodied in it by

  1. c) examining the significance of the Virginia Declaration of Rights and the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom in the framing of the Bill of Rights;


USVA Government

GOVT.1       The student will demonstrate mastery of the social studies skills responsible citizenship requires, including the ability to

  1. a) analyze primary and secondary source documents;
  2. b) create and interpret maps, diagrams, tables, charts, graphs, and spreadsheets;
  3. e) evaluate information for accuracy, separating fact from opinion;
  4. f) identify a problem, weigh the expected costs and benefits and possible consequences of proposed solutions, and recommend solutions, using a decision-making model;
  5. g) select and defend positions in writing, discussion, and debate.

GOVT.2       The student will demonstrate knowledge of the political philosophies that shaped the development of Virginia and United States constitutional government by

  1. f) examining George Mason’s Virginia Declaration of Rights, Thomas Jefferson’s Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, and James Madison’s leadership role in securing adoption of the Bill of Rights by the First Congress.
Author Info

Name: Charity Fisher
School: Fairfax High School
School Address (opt): 3501 Rebel Run
City: Fairfax
State: Va