Two-hundred and thirty-two years ago yesterday, on January 16, 1786, the Virginia General Assembly passed the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom state law. This law continued the tradition of separation of church and state which ensured no citizen would be compelled to follow a state religion and was part of America's legacy of religious liberty. The first amendment to the US Constitution states "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."
Penned by Thomas Jefferson, the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom legislation states that, “all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.”
Because these constitutional freedoms are under attack today, President Donald Trump issued a proclamation yesterday stating in part, "Our forefathers, seeking refuge from religious persecution, believed in the eternal truth that freedom is not a gift from the government, but a sacred right from Almighty God."
President Trump named January 16, 2018 Religious Freedom Day and called on all Americans "to commemorate this day with events and activities that remind us of our shared heritage of religious liberty and teach us to secure this blessing both at home and abroad."
Read the President's entire proclamation here.
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