“Faith breathes life and hope into our world,” wrote U.S. President Donald Trump this week. Noting in his proclamation of “Religious Freedom Day” earlier this week that the free exercise of religion is critical to national stability and respect for human dignity, he declared, “We must diligently guard, preserve, and cherish this unalienable right.”
Ever since 1993, the U.S. President has declared January 16 to be “Religious Freedom Day” in honor of the 1786 enactment of Thomas Jefferson’s Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, a forerunner to the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment. Americans have annually been encouraged to commemorate this anniversary with educational activities reinforcing the great importance of this fundamental freedom.
In Trump’s first opportunity to proclaim this anniversary, he attempted to rectify wrong turns of the recent past. “Unfortunately, not all have recognized the importance of religious freedom, whether by threatening tax consequences for particular forms of religious speech, or forcing people to comply with laws that violate their core religious beliefs without sufficient justification,” he said. Recalling his executive order to change the trajectory of the federal government’s compliance with this first freedom, Trump added, “No American — whether a nun, nurse, baker, or business owner — should be forced to choose between the tenets of faith or adherence to the law.”
By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations
Published: January 19, 2018