National Religious Freedom Day
The right to religious freedom, as guaranteed by law, was first penned by George Mason in the Virginia Declaration of Rights, 1776. His words became a model for state constitutions throughout the colonies and the world. Thomas Jefferson drew upon these sentiments for his opening paragraphs in the Declaration of Independence, 1776 and for the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, which was passed by the Virginia Assembly on January 16th, 1786. George Mason and James Madison were the primary drafters of the U.S. Constitution, 1789 although George Mason refused to sign the final draft because the rights of the individual (Bill of Rights), including religious freedom, were not protected. James Madison continued to tirelessly promote the sentiments of religious freedom and the rights of the individual throughout the colonies and the Continental Congress. In 1791, the right to religious freedom was guaranteed in the first of ten amendments to the U.S Constitution: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. Through the efforts of these three great men, America became the first country in the world to create a government without a state-sanctioned religion. Mason, Jefferson and Madison believed strongly that religious freedom would prevent the citizens of the United States from becoming embroiled in the religious wars that had plagued Europe for centuries.
In 1992, a joint resolution of the U.S. Congress authorized and requested that the president to issue a proclamation stating that January 16th, 1993 be proclaimed Religious Freedom Day. President George H.W. Bush was the first president to issue such a proclamation and every president since that time has issued an annual proclamation calling on the people of the United States to join together to celebrate their religious freedom on January 16th and to observe the day with appropriate ceremonies and activities.
We would like Religious Freedom Day (January 16) to become a permanent national (not federal) holiday. Hopefully, to be celebrated by people of all faiths and spiritual persuasions by gathering with others to share a meal - potluck, picnics and BBQs. To honor George Mason, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison who worked tirelessly to guarantee religious freedom to people throughout the United States. To celebrate our religious freedom and to appreciate one another. This will allow Religious Freedom Day to be printed on our calendars, further engraining these sentiments of freedom into our collective social consciousness. Currently, people often celebrate Religious Freedom Day on the weekend before the Martin Luther King Holiday weekend. Links up nicely!
Please contact (e-mail, letter or telephone) your U.S. Congressman and Senators. Let them know you support the creation and passage of a bill that would establish January 16th as National Religious Freedom Day on a permanent basis. Weve provided a sample petition that you can download or you can write your own. National Religious Freedom Day - something that democrats and republicans can finally agree on!
Remember to celebrate our religious freedom on January 16th
.and every day!
U.S. House of Representatives
Please contact your
The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe in blood for centuries.
~James Madison, letter objecting to the use of government land for churches, 1803
Statutes, Letters & Proclamations
Make Religious Freedom Day a National Holiday
The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.
~Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, Query 17
That religion, or the duty which we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and therefore all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience: and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity towards each other.
~George Mason, Virginia Bill of Rights, 1776
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."
Religious Freedom - A Way to Peace
Food For Thought
~First Amendment to U.S.Constitution. 1791