Constitution

Happy Religious Freedom Day to One and All!

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And you don't have to pray for it.

On January 16, 1786, the Virginia General Assembly passed the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, promulgated by Thomas Jefferson. The last three presidents of the United States have marked each January 16th as Religious Freedom Day. The words of the Statute of Religious Freedom continue to inspire:

That all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burthens, or by civil incapacitations tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and therefore are a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, who being Lord, both of body and mind yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as was in his Almighty power to do,

That the impious presumption of legislators and rulers, civil as well as ecclesiastical, who, being themselves but fallible and uninspired men have assumed dominion over the faith of others, setting up their own opinions and modes of thinking as the only true and infallible, and as such endeavouring to impose them on others, hath established and maintained false religions over the greatest part of the world and through all time;

That to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves is sinful and tyrannical….

…that Truth is great, and will prevail if left to herself, that she is the proper and sufficient antagonist to error, and has nothing to fear from the conflict, unless by human interposition disarmed of her natural weapons free argument and debate, errors ceasing to be dangerous when it is permitted freely to contradict them:

Be it enacted by General Assembly that no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief, but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of Religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge or affect their civil capacities…..

On the occasion, President Barack Obama's proclamation today declares:

Because of the protections guaranteed by our Constitution, each of us has the right to practice our faith openly and as we choose. As a free country, our story has been shaped by every language and enriched by every culture. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, Sikhs and non-believers. Our patchwork heritage is a strength we owe to our religious freedom.

The United States was not founded as a Christian nation, but as a nation that honors the freedom of conscience of its citizens

See also my colleague Nick Gillespie's appreciation of Roger Williams, founder of Rhode Island who in 1636 fled Puritan Massachusetts …

…with his wife and children, wandering the frozen New England landscape for weeks before buying property from Indians and settling Providence, a city dedicated to "Liberty of Conscience," or true religious freedom. Indeed, even as Williams helped establish the first Baptist congregation in the colonies, he worked to guarantee civil rights for nonbelievers. Later, he would provide a haven for another great religious dissenter, Anne Hutchinson, after her banishment from Massachusetts, and secure a royal charter for what became Rhode Island–the first such English grant to articulate fully secular government.

Happy Religious Freedom Day!

NEXT: Arizona Woman Defends Fish Pedicures After She Was Forced to Stop Offering the Treatment

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  1. “The United States was not founded as a Christian nation, but as a nation that honors the freedom of conscience of its citizens”

    That’s some grade A stupid right there. Not the first half of the sentence of course, which is true.

  2. Praise Science!

    Freedom of Religion is not Freedom from Religion

    1. Freedom of Religion is not Freedom from Religion

      No offense, but I’ve always found this saying kinda dumb. Seems to be saying that people are free to choose their own religion, but not free to not be subjected to another person’s. The wording just seems … off.

      1. It’s a bad faith assumption that not wanting to have some else’s religion imposed on you is the same as you not wanting anyone to have religion at all.

        Of course freedom of religion means freedom from religion–otherwise you’d have to hold every religious belief in the country at once.

        1. Freedom from religion is not having to find Jack Chick pamphlets laying around, have some asshole ask if you know Jesus or see a cross, creche or 10 commandments plaque in a public place.

          It violates freedom of religion.
          It is much like the “right not to be offended”

          1. And if most people used the bumpersticker slogan like you are, I wouldn’t have a problem with it.

            1. An interesting fact I keep meaning to OT post about is that in Murfreesboro, TN where many residents tried to use zoning law to block a large Islamic center/mosque outside of town the laws were used to block a “Bible-Land” theme park.The redneck Christians who run Rutherford County didn’t want that eyesore either.

              1. The Islamic center was approved and built and the Baptist church next door added a bunch of highly visible crosses-the symbol of the KKK!!! to progtards.

          2. What’s wrong with asking if you know Jesus? The man makes excellent menudo.

            And do you know the shawarma guy, Muhammad? His lamb is to die for!

            1. SIV you are a f0ck-tard.

              If Freedom of Religion DOESNOT mean one can be free from Religion, then…

              …The 2A means everyone HAS TO HAVE A FUCKING GUN.

              You, my son, are an asshole

  3. Notice Obama won’t disclose his midi-chlorian count. What do you suppose he’s hiding.

  4. May his noodly appendage touch you today.

    Ramen!

    1. +1

  5. That to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves is sinful and tyrannical….

    And yet (some of) our tax money goes to NPR!

  6. “We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, Sikhs and non-believers. Our patchwork heritage is a strength we owe to our religious freedom.”
    Way to ruin religious freedom.

    1. Fuck off, Nazi.

  7. Soudns like a pretty cool day to me dude.

    http://www.anono-web.tk

  8. Not in “It’s None Our Business” Timbuktu!

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