"First amendment engraving, Washington DC" by Mike Peel / CC BY-SA 4.0

The Battle for the Meaning of Religious Freedom Day

Jan 9, 2019

By Frederick Clarkson

There’s an oxymoron embedded in one of the model bills in the Christian right’s state legislative campaign called Project Blitz. Their model resolution for Religious Freedom Day celebrates a day devoted to something they oppose: religious freedom.

Yes, the authors mouth many of the right things, including boilerplate platitudes and cherrypicked historical artifacts as recommended by Project Blitz. But what’s omitted illuminates the intentions of the theocratic Dominionists (notably, David Barton, as we reported in our original story) who have led Project Blitz from the beginning. Their vision of religion is incompatible with most people’s idea of freedom.

Left out of the model Religious Freedom Day (RFD) resolution is the recognition that, with regard to the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom—the 18th century statement the RFD commemorates annually—religious equality, not religious or Christian supremacy, was its guiding and governing principle. Indeed, what the day is supposed to commemorate is that the Virginia Statute effectively overthrew the tyrannical Anglican Church—which had been part of the British monarch’s system of control imposed on the North American colonies. Thus the Virginia Statute stands to this day as perhaps one of the most radical, liberatory, and revolutionary pieces of legislation in the history of the world.

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