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National Religious Freedom Day

On January 16, 1786, the Virginia General Assembly adopted Thomas Jefferson's Statute for Religious Freedom.

January 16 is an annual commemoration of the day that Thomas Jefferson, who would author the Declaration of Independence and go on to become the third president of the United States, helped draft the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom.

A version of the statute would become a significant inclusion into the Bill of Rights as the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The amendment grants all citizens the right to practice religion in a way that encompasses their own religious beliefs and made it illegal to suppress the beliefs of others.

Jefferson felt that there should be separation between church and state based on his understanding of historical events that confirmed that in many countries in which church and government worked hand in hand, there tended to be inequality, violence, civil strife, and general intolerance towards religions that were not officially sanctioned by the government.

The Statute for Religious Freedom protects freedom of religion for all Americans and prohibits the government from mandating religious choices by making laws that establishes a religion in any manner or impeding the free exercise of religious beliefs.

The founding fathers worked hard to insure freedom of religion as one of the basic principles of our nation. The importance of religious freedom and the diversity of faiths can be seen in every corner of our society.

National Religious Freedom Day is officially proclaimed each year by the President of the United States in an annual statement. The goal is to promote and protect religious expression by informing American citizens about these liberties and how important they are.





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