On January 16, 1786, Thomas Jefferson's "Statute for Religious Freedom" was enacted into Virginia state law. The new law, which guaranteed freedom of religion to people of all faiths, later became the basis for the Constitution's establishment clause, and was one of the three accomplishments Jefferson felt enough pride in to put on his own tombstone. (He didn't even mention his presidency!) To this day, January 16 is still observed as Religious Freedom Day in the United States, but does that mean everything you think you know about church and state is God's own truth? It does not! Let Jeopardy!'s Ken Jennings bless your souls with a little knowledge from on high.
The Debunker: Has the Pledge of Allegiance Always Name-Checked God?
The Pledge of Allegiance seems like such a deeply ingrained part of America's national myth—right up there with Betsy Ross, the Constitution, and "The Star-Spangled Banner"—that many people are surprised to learn that no American ever had to hear or say it for the first century of the nation's history. It's a surprisingly recent invention, newer than the telephone or the ballpoint pen.