“The right to religious freedom is innate to the dignity of every human person and is foundational to the pursuit of truth,” wrote U.S. President Donald Trump this week in a proclamation honoring “Religious Freedom Day.”
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.
Recalling our nation’s beginnings as a place of hope for the Pilgrims and other settlers fleeing religious discrimination, Trump stated that America’s founders designed our republic to uphold “a robust understanding of religious freedom” because they “readily understood that a just government must respect the deep yearning for truth and openness to the transcendent that are part of the human spirit.”
The President highlighted how his administration is working at home and abroad to protect this fundamental liberty from growing attacks. Citing work particularly at the Departments of Health & Human Services, Justice, and State, he declared, “My administration is taking action to protect religious liberty and to seek justice against those who seek to abridge it.”
Of note, senators also took a stand against religious hostility this week when they unanimously approved a resolution sponsored by Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) affirming that disqualifying a federal nominee based on his or her membership in the Knights of Columbus (KoC), a prominent Catholic charitable organization, violates the U.S. Constitution’s prohibition on any religious test for public office. This is notable after Nebraskan Brian Buescher, a federal district court nominee, has been so targeted by Sens. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) based on his KoC membership.
By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations
Published: January 18, 2019