In an effort to increase awareness for Religious Freedom Day (Jan. 16), two advocacy groups have launched Religious Freedom Sunday planned for next week.
Gateways to Better Education and the Alliance Defense Fund are calling for Religious Freedom Sunday to be a national event in which churches honor the educators within their congregations and inform their members about the freedom of religious expression for students from kindergarten through 12th grade have at school.
The theme for Religious Freedom Sunday comes from the Bible verse quoted on the Liberty Bell—‘proclaim liberty throughout the land’ (Leviticus 25:10).
Each year, often heralded with little fanfare or media coverage, the President declares January 16th to be Religious Freedom Day, and calls upon Americans to “observe this day through appropriate events and activities in homes, schools, and places of worship.”
The day is the anniversary of the passage, in 1786, of the Virginia Statute on Religious Freedom. Thomas Jefferson drafted the legislation and considered it one of his greatest achievements, according to Gateways. It stopped the practice of taxing people to pay for the support of the local clergy, and it protected the civil rights of people to express their religious beliefs without suffering discrimination.
Gateways states on its Website:
Today, that protection is as important as ever. In too many instances, public school teachers tell Christian students they cannot include their faith in their homework assignments or classroom discussions. However, the U.S. Department of Education has issued guidelines explaining students’ religious liberties. Students can pray, read their Bibles, and talk about their faith at school during school hours. They can organize prayer groups and Bible studies and announce their meetings. They can express their faith in their class work and homework.
For a free, downloadable booklet explaining more about Jefferson’s legislation, visit www.ReligiousFreedomDay.com.