NATIONAL RELIGIOUS FREEDOM DAY
Each year, National Religious Freedom Day commemorates the day the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom was signed on January 16, 1786. Each year, by Presidential Proclamation, January 16th is declared Religious Freedom Day.
Thomas Jefferson’s landmark statute became the basis for Congressman Fisher Ames’ establishment clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Consitution.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”
The First Freedom Center in Richmond, Virginia, commemorates this day by holding an annual First Freedom Award banquet.
The statute guarantees the fundamental freedom to openly practice one’s faith without fear of being harassed, jailed, or killed. Additionally, under the statute, each person may freely change their religion without retribution. In the United States, people of different faiths have equal rights to practice their religion.
Around the world, religious restrictions continue to rise. According to Pew research, legislation, attitudes, and policies are rising globally in the last decade. Even those countries usually considered restrictive are increasing their limitations. When looking at countries with the most equality, they too show a change in policies and attitudes toward religious freedom. Religious freedom is a global concern, not only a national one.
HOW TO OBSERVE RELIGIOUS FREEDOM DAY
While recognizing the U.S. commemoration, take a broader look. Learn more about religious freedom in the United States and around the world.
- Watch First Freedom on PBS.
- Learn about other faiths.
- Practice your own faith.
- Participate in an interfaith event such as the one mentioned on Share America.
- Read about other faiths and their experiences in the United States.
Use #ReligiousFreedomDay to post on social media.
NATIONAL RELIGIOUS FREEDOM DAY HISTORY
Every year since 1993, the President of the United States proclaims January 16th National Religious Freedom Day.