Obama declares Religious Freedom Day

President Barack Obama today signed a proclamation declaring Sunday to be Religious Freedom Day. The text is below.
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release January 14, 2011
RELIGIOUS FREEDOM DAY, 2011
– – – – – – –
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
A PROCLAMATION
Our Nation was founded on a shared commitment to the values
of justice, freedom, and equality. On Religious Freedom Day,
we commemorate Virginia’s 1786 Statute for Religious Freedom,
in which Thomas Jefferson wrote that “all men shall be free to
profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters
of religion.” The fundamental principle of religious freedom —
guarded by our Founders and enshrined in our Constitution’s
First Amendment — continues to protect rich faiths flourishing
within our borders.
The writ of the Founding Fathers has upheld the ability
of Americans to worship and practice religion as they choose,
including the right to believe in no religion at all. However,
these liberties are not self-sustaining, and require a stalwart
commitment by each generation to preserve and apply them.
Throughout our Nation’s history, our founding ideal of religious
freedom has served as an example to the world. Though our
Nation has sometimes fallen short of the weighty task of
ensuring freedom of religious expression and practice, we have
remained a Nation in which people of different faiths coexist
with mutual respect and equality under the law. America’s
unshakeable commitment to religious freedom binds us together
as a people, and the strength of our values underpins a country
that is tolerant, just, and strong.
My Administration continues to defend the cause of
religious freedom in the United States and around the world.
At home, we vigorously protect the civil rights of Americans,
regardless of their religious beliefs. Across the globe, we
also seek to uphold this human right and to foster tolerance
and peace with those whose beliefs differ from our own. We bear
witness to those who are persecuted or attacked because of their
faith. We condemn the attacks made in recent months against
Christians in Iraq and Egypt, along with attacks against people
of all backgrounds and beliefs. The United States stands with
those who advocate for free religious expression and works to
protect the rights of all people to follow their conscience,
free from persecution and discrimination.
On Religious Freedom Day, let us reflect on the principle
of religious freedom that has guided our Nation forward, and
recommit to upholding this universal human right both at home
and around the world.
more
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NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the
United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in
me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do
hereby proclaim January 16, 2011, as Religious Freedom Day.
I call on all Americans to commemorate this day with events
and activities that teach us about this critical foundation
of our Nation’s liberty, and to show us how we can protect it
for future generations here and around the world.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand
this fourteenth day of January, in the year of our Lord
two thousand eleven, and of the Independence of the
United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fifth.
BARACK OBAMA
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Updated: January 14, 2011 — 7:00 pm

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  1. As best I can tell, President Bill Clinton was the first to proclaim Religious Freedom Day in 1994, after the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993. It has been an annual Presidential tradition since 1996, always in mid-January.

    http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/proclamations.php

    All American citizens would benefit from learning about our nation’s ideal of religious liberty. If you have never done so, find and read the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, authored by Thomas Jefferson. The law is brief and blunt. Jefferson must have considered this measure significant since it is one of the three achievements inscribed on his tombstone. (He didn’t bother mentioning that he was President.)

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