“The liberty enjoyed by the people of these States, of worshipping Almighty God agreeably to their consciences, is not only among the choicest of their blessings, but also of their rights.”

–George Washington

Welcome to Religious Freedom Day, 2020! 

The Virginia General Assembly adopted Thomas Jefferson’s Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom on January 16, 1786–a statute that helped set the course for freedom of religion to be included in the First Amendment to our Constitution. It is said that Jefferson considered this legislation to be one of his greatest achievements.

In 1993, George H. W. Bush declared the first Religious Freedom Day. President Clinton continued the tradition every year throughout his presidency. Under Clinton’s directive, the U.S. Department of Education issued guidelines in 1995 and again in 1998, clarifying students’ religious liberties. The guidelines have been updated several times and are made available for wide distribution. Since their development, every U.S. President has ratified these guidelines. Here is President Trump’s 2020 Proclamation.

…Schools do more than train children’s minds. They also help to nurture their souls by reinforcing the values they learn at home and in their communities. I believe that one of the best ways we can help our schools to do this is by supporting students’ rights to voluntarily practice their religious beliefs, including prayer in schools.”        

–President Clinton, 1998

The U.S. Department of Education details students’ and teachers’ freedom of religious expression in Guidance on Constitutionally Protected Prayer in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools.

  • Students can pray, read their Bibles or other religious material, and talk about their faith at school.
  • Students can organize prayer groups and religious clubs, and they can announce their meetings.
  • Students can express their faith in their classwork and homework.
  • Teachers can organize prayer groups with other teachers.
  • Students may be able to go off campus to have religious studies during school hours.
  • Students can express their faith at a school event.
  • Students can express their faith at their graduation ceremony.

Based upon the constitutional guarantee of free speech and free association, our students can live out their faith in their environment.

Though guaranteed in our Constitution, it is no secret that religious freedom is being attacked in our country today. Last year in a Senate hearing, a judicial nominee’s Catholic faith and membership in a charitable Catholic organization were questioned as potentially hindering his ability to judge fairly. No person seeking public service should be asked to renounce their faith. Article 6 of the Constitution states that “there shall be no religious test” for any candidate seeking public office.

If you want a good resource for understanding our culture from a Biblical perspective, visit Albert Mohler’s “The Briefing.” Every day, Dr. Mohler addresses current events from a Christian worldview. You can also access “The Briefing” on a free app.

In Mohler’s words…

“These are days that will require courage, conviction, and clarity of vision. We are in a fight for the most basic liberties God has given humanity, every single one of us, made in his image. Religious liberty is being redefined as mere freedom of worship, but it will not long survive if it is reduced to a private sphere with no public voice. The very freedom to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ is at stake, and thus so is the liberty of every American. Human rights and human dignity are temporary abstractions if they are severed from their reality as gifts of the Creator. The eclipse of Christian truth will lead inevitably to a tragic loss of human dignity. If we lose religious liberty, all other liberties will be lost, one by one.”  –Albert Mohler, “The Gathering Storm”

Religious liberty is being redefined as mere freedom of worship, but it will not long survive if it is reduced to a private sphere with no public voice.

–Albert Mohler

The following resources can help parents and public school teachers ensure that our young people understand and cherish the religious liberty they have:

U.S. Department of Education Guidance on Constitutionally Protected Prayer in Public Schools.

Religious Freedom Day website