To enjoy one’s faith, without fear of persecution, is one of life’s greatest privileges. Unfortunately, it is not the reality of many in the world today. Each time one has the opportunity to walk through the church door or listen to the ringing church bells, it is a day to be thankful. Our founding Fathers had the foresight to give this to us as they established a new and free country. Many of our young people are not taught the history or the significance of religious freedom if they are a product of our public schools. Separation of church and state does not mean that we should not know history…and appreciate its benefits.
“National Religious Freedom Day falls on January 16 every year in honor of the day the Virginia General Assembly adopted the Statute for Religious Freedom in 1786.
The statute disestablished the Church of England in Virginia as the official religion of the state and paved the way for religious freedom for Catholics, Jews and other underrepresented religious minorities. Thomas Jefferson, who drafted and presented the legislation to the assembly, considered it to be among his greatest lifetime achievements.
The U.S. consistently ranks among the countries with the least religious restrictions, and roughly 88 percent of Americans believe the country was founded on the principle of religious freedom.
From the Huffington Post
“Today we commemorate International Religious Freedom Day, which marks the 17th anniversary of the passage of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998. This landmark legislation sought to infuse America’s first freedom into our foreign policy, and it has made great strides in doing so. One of the ways it did this was by establishing the bipartisan, independent, U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom…
“Beyond having the institutions to defend religious freedom, much remains to be done, as we see relentless assaults on religious freedom around the world. Today is a day to not only remember the foundational importance of international religious freedom, the birthright of every individual, but a time to renew America’s commitment to advocating for this most basic right whenever and wherever it comes under assault. We have a moral responsibility to stand firmly on the side of people who simply want to live and worship in peace.
“Nowhere has intolerance and evil combined to destroy people of faith more than it has in the Middle East, where ISIS is engaged in a systemic, genocidal effort to wipe out all religious minorities, including Christians and Yezidis. Just over a year ago, ISIS swept through the Nineveh Plains, uprooting thousands in a matter of days. Faced with the choice of beheading, enslavement or forced conversion, entire villages fled with nothing more than the clothes on their back. Their historic convents, monasteries and churches have been destroyed or seized and re-purposed into prisons, weapons facilities, or torture chambers. For the first time in 2,000 years, there was no Christmas Mass in Mosul, and this exile is now stretching into a second winter. In Syria, the situation is no better…”
Portion of a Speech by Marco Rubio
Any religion that would want to destroy a person’s right to choose his/her own faith, is a religion that does not understand or care about the principles of freedom of choice. We, as free people, must stand for these rights and give honor to those who have gone before to assure us of this privilege. A very important fact is that even today we have men and women being held in countries around the world because they were serving as religious people to improve education, health, and welfare of those less fortunate. Our government has done little to try to get the release of these Americans who are being tortured in places like Iran when we had the leverage to do so. One has to ask if this would have been the action…or inaction…of those who have gone before us to give us religious freedom? The significance of this important part of our freedom cannot be over-looked or ignored.
How serious is the threat to religious freedom around the world? Very serious. We can only take the word of those who know and have no reason to tell us something untrue. We have seen the videos of the Christians being beheaded and we are told that the same is happening to children in the Middle East. Do we know what is happening in places like China? Perhaps we should take a look and once again take a long, hard look at the religious freedom we still have in America.
There are those who will deny the basics of faith…and will spread this as truth. We are warned not to be deceived. Frankly, with world-wide conditions, it may not be enough to set aside certain days to talk about or write about “religious freedom”, which could so easily be taken from us…. as these videos will show.