Religious Freedom Day 2020. If You Blinked, You Missed It.
Did you know that last Thursday, 16 January 2020, was Religious Freedom Day in the United States?
The Day commemorates Thomas Jefferson’s Statute for Religious Freedom — written before the US Constitution — which says, among other things:
All men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities…
The rights hereby asserted are of the natural rights of mankind…
President Trump’s proclamation repeated the quote above and began with:
From its opening pages, the story of America has been rooted in the truth that all men and women are endowed with the right to follow their conscience, worship freely, and live in accordance with their convictions.
(The President also timed the Day with the release of guidelines protecting prayer in public schools.)
If you didn’t hear about the significance of the 16th of January, it’s forgivable. (An article at the Religion News Service, which criticized President Trump’s commemoration, also seemed to acknowledge it was not a well-noticed day.) While you’ll see a lot of media coverage, public celebration, and even a little hand-wringing during the coming months celebrating race and sexuality, it would seem most media outlets consider religious freedom — a “natural right of mankind” — not worth celebrating, much less talking about, even for a single day.
As noted at the Religion Clause.