Religious Freedom Day in the United States

National Religious Freedom Day commemorates the Virginia General Assembly’s adoption of Thomas Jefferson’s landmark Statute for Religious Freedom on January 16, 1786. This document became the basis for the separation of church and state and led to freedom of religion for all Americans as protected in the religion clause in the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment.

This is the first section of the statue.

Whereas, Almighty God hath created the mind free;

That all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burthens, or by civil incapacitations tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and therefore are a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, who being Lord, both of body and mind yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as was in his Almighty power to do.

Interestingly, God is referred to throughout the document. You can read the entire text here.

Portrait of Thomas Jefferson, third president of the United States.  It is part of the White House collection and was created by Rembrandt Peale in 1800.
Portrait of Thomas Jefferson, third president of the United States. It is part of the White House collection and was created by Rembrandt Peale in 1800.
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