Today Is Religious Freedom Day, but Save for Empty Proclamations, You Wouldn't Know It

AP Photo/Jessie Wardarski

How many knew that today was National Religious Freedom Day? How many care that such a day is given recognition?

Here is how it started.

On January 16, 1786 the Virginia State Assembly adopted the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom drafted by Thomas Jefferson in 1777. As a result, the Church of England in Virginia was disestablished and people of different faiths were granted freedom of religion. Catholics, Protestants and Jews were all given equal rights to express their religious beliefs.Religious Freedom Day was first proclaimed in 1996 and has been proclaimed every year since then by a statement by the President of the USA.

This day is observed through various activities and events in schools and places of worship. Schools are encouraged to recognize this day during the entire school week preceding January 16.Freedom of religion is considered to be a fundamental human right. Everyone has the right to manifest belief or religion, change religion or not to follow any religion.

How is it going?

As is the custom, our very Catholic President posted his proclamation on Friday.

I found it interesting to compare Biden’s proclamation this year with President Donald J. Trump’s proclamation last year.

Both proclamations use similar language about the protection of American’s rights to pursue, or not pursue, their own religious affiliation, and both highlight what the federal government has done to encourage and support this.

While Trump’s proclamation listed measures taken to remove the government’s overreach out of religious assembly and worship and protect American’s right to not be forced to betray their religious conscience, Biden’s proclamation listed the government programs he has either reestablished or instituted to further embed the federal government into religious assembly. Unlike Trump’s proclamation, Biden’s says nothing about protecting religious conscience. What. A. Shock.

With a Department of Defense refusing to accommodate religious exemptions to military service members for the vaccine mandates, on top of Biden’s executive orders which supported the corporate vaccine mandates and firings of healthcare workers—many people of faith—it is apparent that Biden’s concept of religious freedom has little to do with being free, and everything to do with what the government allows.

Unique to Trump’s proclamation is how he shone a light on religious persecution both domestically and internationally and took action to combat it. Biden’s proclamation mentions nothing along these lines.

Biden does talk about protecting American’s right to gather and increase prosecution of hate crimes. Along with increased funding for the Department of Homeland Security’s Nonprofit Security Grant Program, which offers funding to religious affiliated non-profits and houses of worship to improve their safety and security.

But on Saturday, during observance of shul, a synagogue in Colleyville, Tex. was held hostage at gunpoint by a Muslim extremist. What has been Biden’s response? To call for gun control.

Because the FBI cannot tie it to some form of “White Supremacy” it treats it as though it is some isolated incident, and has nothing to do with the Jewish community. Even after Biden acknowledged it was an act of terror and antisemitism, he muddled his remarks with gobblygook about “guns off the street,” and background checks being “critical.”

This was a picture perfect representation of an attack on religious freedom, and Biden and his administration cannot even draw a straight line to it. Biden might as well toss his proclamation, as it has now been reduced to empty words. The same can be said for all the canned tweets from his administration.

So how is it going with the ongoing battles within the faith community over worship gatherings, and who is subject to the restrictions of masks and vaccinations?

The CDC has finally acknowledged that cloth masks do little to stop the spread of COVID, particularly this new Omicron variant. A South African study has assessed that Omicron is less severe than the other variants, and unvaccinated people are less likely to be adversely affected or hospitalized.

Yet, sadly, churches are still being Chicken Little and refusing to allow people to worship with their congregations if they are not vaccinated or if they refuse to wear masks.

How is our Nation’s stand for religious freedom going? Not very well.