Two hundred and thirty-four years ago, the Virginia General Assembly adopted Thomas Jefferson’s landmark Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom on Jan. 16, 1786.
According to National Day Calendar, “the statute guarantees the fundamental freedom to openly practice one’s faith without fear of being harassed, jailed or killed.” Additionally, under the statute, “each person may freely change their religion without retribution. In the United States, people of different faiths have equal rights to practice their religion.”
To commemorate that day, each year since 1993, by Presidential Proclamation, Jan. 16 is declared Religious Freedom Day.
Locally, the Captain Jacob Van Meter Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution, Colonel John Hardin Chapter Sons of the American Revolution and the Ancestral Trails Historical Society is hosting a Religious Freedom Day celebration.
The event is set for about 12:15 p.m. today at Pritchard Community Center in Elizabethtown.
“Religious freedom is recognized, by many historians, as being the greatest contribution America has made to the modern world and, therefore, should be celebrated by all. We want to celebrate that contribution,” historian and playwright Don Patterson, the keynote speaker, said.
Many state officers of the organizations are attending as well as the Sons of the American Revolution Honor Guard. There is no cost to attend the program.
Elizabethtown Mayor Jeff Gregory will be presenting a proclamation, and there will be music by Glenda Patterson and the Freedom Ensemble.