A Fundamental Principle

Our Nation was founded on a shared commitment to the values of justice, freedom, and equality. On Religious Freedom Day we commemorate Virginia’s 1786 Statute for Religious Freedom, in which Thomas Jefferson wrote that “all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion.” The fundamental principle of religious freedom—guarded by our Founders and enshrined in our Constitution’s First Amendment—continues to protect rich faiths flourishing within our borders . . . .

Across the globe we also seek to uphold this human right and to foster tolerance and peace with those whose beliefs differ from our own. We bear witness to those who are persecuted or attacked because of their faith. We condemn the attacks made in recent months against Christians in Iraq and Egypt, along with attacks against people of all backgrounds and beliefs. The United States stands with those who advocate for free religious expression and works to protect the rights of  all people to follow their conscience, free from persecution and discrimination.

Excerpted from U.S. president Barack Obama’s January 14, 2011, “Presidential Proclamation on Religious Freedom Day 2011.”

Article Author: Barack H. Obama