President Barack Obama released a statement on Wednesday of this week commemorating National Religious Freedom Day, celebrated on January 16 every year to mark the adoption of Thomas Jefferson’s Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom on January 16, 1786. The statute led to the development of the religious freedom clause in the First Amendment of the Constitution.
In the president’s proclamation, he declared that “foremost among the rights Americans hold sacred is the freedom to worship as we choose … as we observe Religious Freedom Day, let us remember the legacy of faith and independence we have inherited, and let us honor it by forever upholding our right to exercise our beliefs free from prejudice or persecution.”
According to The Christian Post, some conservatives see some irony in the president’s praise of National Religious Freedom Day, particularly in the Affordable Care Act provision of Obamacare requiring employers to provide coverage for contraception in their employee health plans.
Family Research Council president Tony Perkins said in a statement responding to Obama’s proclamation: “The first sentence of his proclamation emphasizes the sacredness of the ‘freedom of worship.’ I would remind the president that the Constitution does not guarantee us only freedom of worship but also the freedom of religion. The two are very different. Freedom of religion goes further by guaranteeing the right to live out one’s faith not only in the privacy of his or her home but in the public square as well.”