President Proclaims “Religious Freedom Day”
President Bush has made the annual proclamation of “Religious Freedom Day” for 16 January 2009. As noted in his proclamation, it is a recognition of the 1786 Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, written by Thomas Jefferson and passed on January 16th, 1786. Notably, this was before the Constitution (signed in 1787), of which Jefferson had no part, and the Bill of Rights (passed in 1789), of which Jefferson was one of the leading proponents.
Interestingly, the President also notes
Freedom is not a grant of government or a right for Americans alone; it is the birthright of every man, woman, and child throughout the world. No human freedom is more fundamental than the right to worship in accordance with one’s conscience.
While some point to the Constitution as the origin of our freedoms, the President emphasizes that these are human liberties, whose “origin” is not restricted to “a grant of government.”
Religious Freedom Day is also advocated by a private organization at ReligousFreedomDay.com.