National Religious Freedom Day

“Ultimately, America’s answer to the intolerant man is diversity, the very diversity which our heritage of religious freedom has inspired.”

— Robert F. Kennedy (1925 – 1968)
American politician, US Senator, lawyer, and 64th US Attorney General

Observed annually in the US, Religious Freedom Day commemorates passage of a significant 1786 piece of legislation penned by Thomas Jefferson. The day promotes religious freedom and tolerance.

In the days of the 13 colonies, the faith of Britain’s appointed governor in each colony determined that colony’s official religion. Only white males of that governor’s religion could vote in that colony. In our fledgling nation, Jefferson fought against any such mandatory establishments of religion. Separation of Church and State was very clear. Leaders were expected to practice their religion, but not force it on their states. Everyone was to be able to practice their religion without discrimination or coercion.

And yet, trouble brewed in Virginia, which had been an Anglican colony. The new legislation settled that issue. Dissenters from the Anglican/Episcopal church in Virginia “would no longer suffer civil penalties for their religious beliefs. The precedent was set. Citizens could not be compelled to support any religious worship, place, or ministry.

However, Thomas Jefferson and the founding Fathers expected everyone to have and practice faith. In the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson referred to God three times… Nature’s God, Creator, and Divine Providence.

In 1954, President Eisenhower encouraged Congress to add “under God” to our Pledge of Allegiance. “In God We Trust” was added to all US currency in 1955 and became our national motto the next year.

Courts, both high and low, have affirmed and reaffirmed that such a national motto and its appearance on currency and federal buildings does not violate our separation of church and state, as it neither establishes nor endorses a specific religion.

Praise God!

About Cathy Burnham Martin

Author of 20+ books, and counting! A professional voice-over artist, dedicated foodie, and lifelong corporate communications geek, Cathy Burnham Martin has enjoyed a highly eclectic career, ranging from the arts and journalism to finance, telecommunications, and publishing. Along with her husband, Ron Martin, she has passions for entertaining, gardening, volunteering, active and visual arts, GREAT food, and traveling. Cathy often says, "I believe that we all should live with as much contagious enthusiasm as possible... Whether we're with friends or family, taking people along for the ride is more than half the fun."
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