HANOVER, Va. (WTVR) The National Day of Prayer was celebrated, again, at the historic Polegreen Presbyterian Church site in Hanover County, considered the cradle of religious freedom and civil liberty.
It was here that religious rebels fomented a bloodless revolution against the Anglican Church, which was the controlling religion of the Brits.
“In the 1740s, the Hanover Dissenters – that is dissenting against the official religion of the colony – began to assemble in this place,” said historian Bob Bluford after the prayer day ceremony.
First they held meetings, where they’d read scripture. Then a simple frame church was built. Virginia Governor Sir William Gooch gave them his blessings to hold religious services – practically heresy.
“Patrick Henry, as a boy 11 years old came to this very spot with his mother,” Bluford said.
“And on the way home from church his mother would make young Patrick, the boy, recite what he had heard the minister, Samuel Davies, say . . . Before Patrick Henry died, he said that Samuel Davies taught him how to be an orator.”
The services also likely cemented Patrick Henry’s posture as a radical fighting for local rule over a central government that could use things like religion to control the masses.
This spot in Hanover, as well as Patrick Henry’s place in it, explain why we have both freedom of religion and freedom from religion.