“The liberty enjoyed by the People of these States, of worshiping Almighty God agreeable to their Consciences, is not only among the choicest of their Blessings, but also of their Rights.” George Washington
National Religious Freedom Day is observed on January 16 every year since 1993 to commemorate the Virginia General Assembly’s adoption of Thomas Jefferson’s landmark Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom on January 16, 1786. This vital document became the basis for the Constitution’s First Amendment establishment clause, and led to the protection of freedom of religion for all Americans. Every president writes an official Proclamation on this day.
Why We Need Religious Freedom:
“Religion and good morals are the only solid foundation of public liberty and happiness,” said Founding Father, Samuel Adams in 1778.
An academic report from Princeton University argues that vigorously advancing religious freedom is in America’s national interests:
· The basis for religious freedom is awareness of the reality and dignity of the human person. Since religion is a human impulse to know and relate to something bigger than one’s self and is a phenomenon found in all times and cultures, to interfere with living out religious experience, is to interfere with human fulfillment.
· “When citizens are free to have an ultimate commitment to something more than human, something beyond the authorities of state and society, the power of the state is thereby limited.”
· At the same time, religious freedom disciplines religious people to treat their non-coreligionists with respect.
· Morally, religion is just not religion unless it is done freely.
· Legally, democracies have recognized that – far from being a marginal special interest – religious freedom is a central human right.