Religious Freedom Day


WHEREAS, on January 16, 1786,  the Virginia General Assembly passed the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, addressing freedom of conscience and the principle of separation of church and state; and

WHEREAS, the Virginia statute is the first declaration of absolute religious freedom in the United States, and served as a model for the First Amendment of the United States Constitution; and

WHEREAS, the passage of the Virginia statute led to the establishment of freedom or religious beliefs and expression for all Americans; and

WHEREAS, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and George Washington, all U.S. Presidents and Virginia natives, believed freedom of religion to be a “fundamental right” that belonged to the people of the United States; and

WHEREAS, Religious Freedom Day is an opportunity to recognize the enduring legacy of Thomas Jefferson’s Statute for Religious Freedom on Virginia, the United States, and the world;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Terence R. McAuliffe, do hereby recognize January 16, 2016, as RELIGIOUS FREEDOM DAY in our COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA, and I call this observance to the attention of all our citizens.