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IRD: Religious Freedom Day a Celebration of Mercy and Justice

Contact: Loralei Coyle, The Institute on Religion & Democracy, 202-682-4131,


WASHINGTON, Jan. 15 /Standard Newswire/ -- January 16 has been proclaimed Religious Freedom Day by President Bush to honor the tradition started by Thomas Jefferson. The President stated, "Across the centuries, people have come to America seeking to worship the Almighty freely. Today, our citizens profess many different faiths, and we welcome every religion. Yet people in many countries live without the freedom to worship as they choose and some face persecution for their beliefs." IRD joins the President and Gateways to Better Education which is leading a national campaign to raise awareness about Religious Freedom Day. Gateways helps public schools teach Judeo-Christian history, thought, and values.


Faith McDonnell, IRD's Religious Liberty Director, released the following:


"Every day emails and news articles bring reports of the persecution of people of faith around the world. Millions are discriminated against, beaten and tortured, imprisoned, and killed because they follow Jesus Christ or are members of other minority religions. In some cases, the persecution is institutionalized within the governing laws of the land. In others, it comes from outside actors. Either way, people of peace and of faith are the victims.


"As we commemorate this day the passage of the 1786 Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, authored by Thomas Jefferson, we must be as vigilant as were the founding fathers to guard our freedom. Too often in this post-9-11 world, human rights and religious freedom, are sacrificed on the altar of political correctness, diplomacy, and oversensitivity masquerading as tolerance.


"In a world where darkness is increasingly being called light and evil called good, we must insure that this injustice is revealed. On this special day of celebration for the blessings and benefits afforded to us in the laws of this great nation, IRD pledges to continue fighting for religious freedom for those who have never known this blessing.


"On Religious Freedom Day, IRD joins in celebrating the blessing of religious freedom enshrined within the laws of our land. But we also must not forget those who do not share our freedom. We must ask God for mercy -- and justice -- for those who are persecuted for their faith."