National Religious Freedom Day: How it Shaped the First Amendment


Today is National Religious Freedom Day, which commemorates a statute that was vital in the shaping of the First Amendment in the U.S. Constitution; plus, in commemoration, President Trump is hosting an event at the Oval Office and pledging to reinforce support of prayer in schools by sending a reminder letter out to school officials in all 50 states.

National Religious Freedom Day was crucial to the First Amendment

Many people are not aware that National Religious Freedom Day is part of a landmark statute that helped frame part of the First Amendment in the U.S. Constitution.

National Religious Freedom Day is a federal recognition occurring on January 16 each year, and has been an annual statement issued by the president of the United States since 1993.

National Religious Freedom Day commemorates the Virginia General Assembly adopting Thomas Jefferson’s Virginia statute for religious freedom, which occurred on January 16, 1786.

It was a landmark statute, as it became the basis for the establishment clause of the First Amendment of the US Constitution, which led to the freedom of religion for all Americans in the United States.

Trump vows to reinforce protections for school prayer

In the Oval Office of the White House today, in commemoration of National Religious Freedom Day, President Donald Trump will host a group of students from Christian, Jewish, and Muslim faiths.

This isn’t just any group of students, though. Officials chose a select group of students, each of whom has suffered discrimination for practicing their religion at school.

At the event, President Trump is expected to make an announcement that the Department of Education (DOE) will be sending a letter on the topic of religious freedom to education secretaries and officials in all 50 US states.

The letter from the education department to state school officials will remind them that students and teachers cannot be discriminated against for practicing their religious rights as granted by the First Amendment.

Anti-religion hostility and discrimination in schools increasing

In an interview with NPR, White House Director of the Domestic Policy Council Joe Grogan spoke of the need to remind schools of these first amendment rights and to reinforce religious protections in schools.

Grogan said that the existing provisions that were established under the No Child Left Behind law have eroded over time and, as a result, the development of increasing hostility towards religion and religious institutions has occurred.

“We’re trying across the board to invite religious institutions and people of faith back into the public square and say, ‘Look, your views are just as valid as anybody else’s,'” Grogan said, “‘and, by the way, they’re protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution.'”