Friday, January 14, 2011
Each year since 1993, the President of the United States declares January 16 Religious Freedom Day. (Why have I never heard of this before? Where and how does he declare it, why don't I know about this?!) I am cutting and pasting here from blog.speakupmovement.org.
"You probably didn’t know that several of our Presidents, past and present, have declared January 16th of each year to be “Religious Freedom Day.” You will not likely see any fireworks displays, or even hear about it in the mainstream media. So exactly what is it? Well, as the title states, it is a day which is meant to celebrate the freedom of religion that we all enjoy here in our great country.
But don’t we have religious freedom every day of the year? Why do we need a special day? And doesn’t it exist in our public square as well as in our public schools? While it is certainly supposed to, very often it does not. So what does it look like when religious freedom doesn’t exist? It looks like students at school being told that they may not mention the word Christmas during December. Or that they may not include a small cross on their artwork. Or that they may not make an announcement at school because it includes the word “pray.” Or that they may not hand out an invitation to Vacation Bible School. I can go on, but you get the point.
Because of these and many other instances that continue throughout the year, ADF has teamed up with Gateways to Better Education for Religious Freedom Sunday. This is a national event, which occurs this year on January 16th, in which churches honor educators and inform their congregations about the freedom of religious expression that students enjoy (or should enjoy) in our public schools. Although not always respected, students have constitutional rights to pray and read their Bibles during free time, to include aspects of their faith in their homework and artwork, to form religious clubs, and to share their faith with their friends and classmates. Detailed information is available on Gateways website. ADF has also written a document explaining the law in this area.
Some may deny that there is any need for such a day and that the “religious right” is just making up sad stories to create much ado about nothing. In addition to the fact that several of our current and past Presidents seem to think such a day is warranted, we also need to remember that to these kids who are told that their faith is “illegal” at school, it is no small matter. Nor should it be a small matter to any of us. Such religious freedom is the bedrock of our nation as it gives us all the right to worship as we choose, or not at all. And that is something many need to be continuously reminded of."
- - the above is a blogpost by David Cortman from Speak Up Movement, here is the original link http://blog.speakupmovement.org/church/religious-freedom/isn%e2%80%99t-every-day-%e2%80%9creligious-freedom-day%e2%80%9d/
Here's what YOU can do:
1. Equip your students and congregation. Gateways To Better Education has created a pocket-sized pamphlet entitled Free to Speak. It quotes the U.S. Department of Education statements clarifying seven important religious freedoms on public school campuses. http://www.gtbe.org/news/index.php/56.html
2. Bring clarity on the issue for local school officials. The Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) has created a detailed letter and stands ready to send it to school officials you designate. They have donated their time to the campaign by offering to send this letter to one school official for every set of pamphlets you order for your church, Sunday school, Youth group, or campus Bible club. You will be able to designate the schools as part of your ordering process. (Your name will not be mentioned in the letter.) This is available also at the Gateways To Better Education link http://www.gtbe.org/news/index.php/56.html
TOO LATE FOR JANUARY 16? If it's too late for including Religious Freedom Day in your January 16th services, ANYTIME during the year you can distribute the Free to Speak pamphlets and have the ADF letters sent to your local school officials.
Again, Here's the link for information from Gateways To Better Education