Religious freedom is one of the most sacred and cherished rights we have as citizens. The threads of faith and freedom are woven deeply into the fabric of our nation’s founding and endure through modern culture, and this unique nexus needs to be protected at all costs.
January 16th is National Religious Freedom Day. This is a commemorative day, but it speaks to the importance of protecting First Amendment rights now, in order to hand the torch of freedom to future generations. This priceless “first freedom” literally cost many Americans their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor.
For more than 30 years, U.S. Presidents from both sides of the aisle have made a Religious Freedom Day proclamation. Many members of Congress, governors, and state lawmakers, including many from this network, promote the day through press conferences, proclamation signings, passing resolutions, and giving speeches in their respective chambers.
To protect that freedom, we must exercise that freedom. We can join elected leaders in taking a bold stand for religious liberty in a variety of ways. You can simply make a public statement that faith and prayer are the lifeblood of America, and that prayer unifies – crossing all political and social barriers – like we witnessed recently in the nationwide outpouring of prayer for Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin. Also, you can advocate religious freedom through the legislative process or in your other spheres of influence – work, home, and school. Regardless of whichever step we choose, what is most important is that we have the courage to take any step at all, and that we have the faith that God can do anything when we all step together.
Religious intolerance and outright persecution are still rampant across the globe. In many countries people are not only forbidden from public worship, but are imprisoned, tortured, and put to death for their faith. I am thankful for our rich Judeo-Christian heritage which protects freedom to believe in God, or have no faith at all. It encourages good government, and it promotes civility in the public square. We must make every effort to ensure these freedoms remain core to our Constitutional Republic, on Religious Freedom Day and throughout the year.
For faith and freedom,
J. Randy Forbes
(Member of Congress 2001-2016)
President and Founder of the Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation