Why January 16 means something to you
How much publicity do you suppose Barack Obama's January 16 Presidential Proclamation will get? You probably won't read about it in very many newspapers and certainly it's doubtful that you'll hear it on the news.
Each year, since 1993, the President declares January 16 to be Religious Freedom Day, where they call upon "Americans to commemorate this day with events and activities that teach us about this critical foundation of our Nation's liberty, and show us how we can protect it for future generations here and around the world," (Barack Obama).
To President Barack Obama's credit, he has continued the 18-year-old "National Day of Recognition", which was first issued by President George Bush in 1993. Barack Obama has pledged to protect the freedom of religion of oppressed around the world. I certainly hope that includes religious freedom for American's as well.
In 1998, President Clinton's issued this statement: "...Schools do more than train children’s minds. They also help to nurture their souls by reinforcing the values they learn at home and in their communities. I believe that one of the best ways we can help out schools to do this is by supporting students’ rights to voluntarily practice their religious beliefs, including prayer in schools.” President Clinton, 1998, religiousfreedomday.com/images/RFD_Guidebook.pdf
In part, President Obama's, 2010 proclamation read:
... "Our Nation's enduring commitment to the universal human right of religious freedom extends beyond our borders as we advocate for all who are denied the ability to choose and live their faith. My Administration will continue to oppose growing trends in many parts of the world to restrict religious expression.
“Faith can bring us closer to one another, and our freedom to practice our faith and follow our conscience is central to our ability to live in harmony. On Religious Freedom Day, let us pledge our constant support to all who struggle against religious oppression and rededicate ourselves to fostering peace with those whose beliefs differ from our own. In doing so, we reaffirm our common humanity and respect for all people with whom we share a brief moment on this Earth.
“NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim January 16, 2010, as Religious Freedom Day. I call on all Americans to commemorate this day with events and activities that teach us about this critical foundation of our Nation's liberty, and show us how we can protect it for future generations here and around the world."
In 2009 George W. Bush wrote in his Proclamation: " Religious freedom is the foundation of a healthy and hopeful society..." He went on to say, " The United States also stands with religious dissidents and believers from around the globe who practice their faith peacefully. Freedom is not a grant of government or a right for Americans alone; it is the birthright of every man, woman, and child throughout the world. No human freedom is more fundamental than the right to worship in accordance with one's conscience."
Even though this special day of recognition is not highly publicized, those of us who feel it is very important should take a moment to give thanks. On Sunday, January 16, make a special note to yourself to thank God for religious freedom. Thank Him for the opportunity to worship in our churches and synagogues without persecution. American have so much to be thankful for. In my opinion, freedom of religion tops the list.
Imagine a life without religious freedom and you’ll know why January 16 should mean something to you and everyone you love and care about. As long as this Proclamation continues, there is still hope.
© KPI 2013