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Senators Lankford, Inhofe Celebrate Religious Freedom Day

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) joined Senators Steve Daines (R-MT), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Roy Blunt (R-MO) Mike Rounds (R-SD), James Risch (R-ID), Josh Hawley (R-MO), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Mike Braun (R-IN), and Rick Scott (R-FL) to introduce a resolution designating January 16th as Religious Freedom Day. This resolution also commemorates the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom’s 234th anniversary, a statute that laid the foundations for the First Amendment.

“Our country has a strong history and commitment to religious freedom—to allow people to freely practice a faith of their choice, change their faith, or choose to have no faith at all,” Lankford said. “For me, faith is not just a hobby I practice on weekends; it is a part of who I am every day. I will continue to work to protect and preserve every American’s right to live out his or her faith, as Jefferson said, without suffering ‘on account of his religious opinions or belief.’ I am grateful to Senator Daines for his work to recognize and preserve the important role of religious freedom in our nation.” 

“It is important we recognize and celebrate the role religious freedom has played in the history of our country and the framework of our constitution,” Daines said. “In America, we have the right to worship freely and safely, for so many across the world, this fundamental right to religious freedom is suppressed.”  

“This resolution recognizing Religious Freedom Day leaves no doubt that the United States remains committed to the fundamental human right of religious freedom for all,” Inhofe said. “Sadly, millions of people have been persecuted for their beliefs. Our founding fathers recognized and enshrined the importance of religious liberty, one of our most precious and foundational freedoms, in the Bill of Rights. This allows everyone to live their lives according to their religious beliefs, and I am proud to stand up for that right.” 

“Thomas Jefferson ingrained in our nation the necessity of religious freedom,” Blackburn said. “Events like the anti-Semitic shooting in Jersey City last month put into harsh perspective the fragility of this right. As we enter a new decade, it is critical that we bring with us that we hold dear, teaching each new generation of the importance of our freedoms.” 

“America was the first nation founded on the principle of religious liberty—the first freedom in the First Amendment to the Constitution,” Blunt said. “Today, we reflect on this unique aspect of our nation’s history and recommit ourselves to protecting and promoting this fundamental freedom and human right at home and abroad.”

“Freedom to practice religion without the fear of persecution is a fundamental human right and a pillar of our form of government in the United States,” Rounds said. “The US Constitution protects the rights of all Americans to worship freely. Sadly, not all countries share our views on religious freedom, and religious minorities around the world are punished for their beliefs. Americans must continue fighting to protect religious freedom until it is recognized as a basic human right everywhere.”

“The religious freedoms guaranteed by the framers of the US Constitution are what set our great nation apart,” Risch said. “Religious Freedom Day recognizes the deep importance of Americans’ right to worship without fear of religious persecution and celebrates our continued commitment to the protection of religious liberty for all.”

“In a time when religious freedom is denied in so many parts of the world, it is an honor to celebrate the right to worship freely as Americans,” Hawley said. “Across our history, religious freedom has been at the core of who we are, and today we reaffirm our commitment to preserve and protect that freedom for generations to come.” 

“One of my proudest moments as a US Senator is my work with the Administration to free North Carolina resident Andrew Brunson, a pastor who was wrongfully imprisoned in Turkey for two years for his religious beliefs,” Tillis said. “Protecting religious freedom is vitally important to uphold the foundations and principles our country was founded on, and I will continue to work to defend those freedoms at home and abroad.”

“The Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom heralded the religious-liberty protections enshrined in our Constitution,” Cotton said. “At a time when religious freedom is under threat, it’s our responsibility to fight for the liberty handed down by our Founding Fathers.” 

“Indiana has taken the lead in ensuring religious freedom established in the Jefferson Statute and the First Amendment is not infringed,” Braun said. “And I’m proud to be able to build on that progress in the United States Senate.”

“As countries around the world, like Communist China and Iran, refuse to respect religious liberty,” Rick Scott said. “It is more important than ever that the United States recognize this basic right, and I will always fight to protect our religious freedoms.”

Senators Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Tim Scott (R-SC) also cosponsored the resolution.

Thomas Jefferson wrote the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, which passed the Virginia General Assembly on January 16th, 1786. Many historians credit the language of Jefferson’s Statute for inspiring the groundwork for the First Amendment. Every year since 1992, January 16th has been designated as Religious Freedom Day.