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On Religious Freedom Day, Vow To Defend That Principle

Today the nation marks two significant holidays: We observe the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Religious Freedom Day.

We’ll have more to say about King's important -- and often overlooked -- views on separation of church and state later today on this blog. For now we'll look at Religious Freedom Day and why it’s important.

Thomas Jefferson, A ‘Mammoth Cheese’ And The Church-State Wall: A New Year’s Day Tale

Yesterday, the country marked an important anniversary dealing with religious freedom that shouldn’t be overlooked.

Jan. 1, 1802, was a busy day at the White House for President Thomas Jefferson, who had a special visitor. His friend John Leland arrived from Massachusetts with a gift: a 1,200-pound wheel of cheese.

Known as the “mammoth cheese,” the wheel was a present from Jefferson’s Baptist admirers in New England. It was accompanied by a card reading, “The Greatest Cheese in America for the Greatest Man in America!”

Seize The Day!: Upcoming Religious Freedom Event Provides An Opportunity For Separation Advocates

Two weeks from today, the nation will celebrate Religious Freedom Day.

Don’t feel bad if you were not aware of that. Most people aren’t. Religious Freedom Day, which is celebrated every Jan. 16, tends to be somewhat obscure. My desk calendar, which includes Groundhog Day, Armed Forces Day and Benito Juarez’s Birthday, does not list Religious Freedom Day.

Religious Freedom Day 2014: Resolve To Defend The Church-State Wall

I still use a large desk calendar, one made out of paper. (Yep, I admit I’m a dinosaur.)

This calendar thoughtfully fills me in on holidays major and minor. On March 17, I can celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and Benito Juarez’s Birthday. I wouldn’t want to miss Administrative Professionals Day on April 23, and Victoria Day (May 19) is a big deal in Canada. For you internationalists, Oct. 24 is United Nations Day.

But one holiday that does not appear is Religious Freedom Day, which is today, Jan. 16.

Parade Of Religious Right Extremists: Va. Town’s Religious Freedom Celebration Dishonors Vision Of Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson wanted only three of his many accomplishments noted on his grave’s headstone, and one of them was his authorship of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom.

Freedom From Foolishness?: Texas Gov. Misconstrues Religious Liberty

Whenever I hear someone – especially a politician – say that the First Amendment protects freedom of religion, not freedom from religion, I just want to start screaming.

As I’ve pointed out many times on this blog and in other forums, that statement is inane and shows great ignorance of our founding principles. Religious Right figures started using it a few years ago, apparently believing they had stumbled onto something clever. In fact, they are simply spouting puerile nonsense.

Passing The Bill: Mass. Taxpayers To Subsidize Church Improvements

Generally speaking, members of the Unitarian Universalist denomination have been strong supporters of the separation of church and state. In my travels for Americans United, I often encounter UUs among AU’s membership, and I’ve spoken in some UU pulpits.

I was rather surprised, then, to read an editorial in the Gloucester, Mass., Times defending a Unitarian church that accepted $30,000 in local tax funds to pay for some work on its building.

Legacy Of Liberty: Celebrating Religious Freedom Day, 2013

Your calendar might not note this, but today is Religious Freedom Day, an event that celebrates passage of Thomas Jefferson’s pioneering Statute for Religious Freedom in Virginia.

Some quick background: In 1784, Patrick Henry introduced a bill in the Virginia legislature that would have required all residents to pay a tax “for the support of the Christian religion, or of some Christian church, denomination or communion of Christians, or for some form of Christian worship.”

Superb Statute: Celebrate Religious Liberty January 16

Jan. 16 is National Religious Freedom Day.

The day was created by Congress in 1993, and every year the president issues a proclamation. (The 2011 proclamation hasn’t been released yet, but you can read the 2010 one here.) The day is designed to commemorate the passage of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom on Jan. 16, 1786.

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