Proclamation on Religious Freedom Day (January 16)

Religious Freedom Day 2013

WHEREAS our nation’s founders recognized the importance of religious freedom and secured this liberty in the words of the First Amendment, declaring that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;” and

WHEREAS the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, our country’s first legal safeguard for religious liberty, was adopted on January 16, 1786, and each year since 1994, the President of the United States has issued a proclamation on the importance of religious liberty recognizing, “our government did not create this liberty, but it cannot be too vigilant in securing its blessings;” and

WHEREAS the free exercise of religion has undergirded the social efforts of many Americans, notably Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose birthday on January 15th we commemorate each year; and

WHEREAS the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion” including the right “to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance”; and

WHEREAS our country has embraced a tradition of religious liberty that has prevented religious domination, conflict and persecution and nurtured an environment where religion has flourished and where people have been left free to choose which faith they shall follow or none at all;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Bob Foster, Mayor of Long Beach along with Gerrie Schipske, Councilwoman of the 5th District, on behalf of the City of Long Beach do hereby declare January 16, 2013 to be “Religious Freedom Day” in our community. We encourage city government, community groups, schools and places of worship to reaffirm their devotion to the principles of religious freedom and educate and reflect on the importance of religious liberty so it may continue secure as part of our nation’s fabric. We also encourage citizens and government to be mindful of the principles of religious liberty in their decisions, attitudes, and actions.

Dated: January 16, 2013

[Text prepared by Donald P. Shoemaker, Pastor Emeritus, Grace Community Church of Seal Beach. Adopted text modified the prepared text.]

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