Religious Freedom Day Highlights Blessings, Sufferings

A conservative Washington-based Christian group promoting religious freedom and democracy is calling on Christians to remember persecuted believers on Religious Freedom Day.

“Millions are discriminated against, beaten and tortured, imprisoned, and killed because they follow Jesus Christ or are members of other minority religions,” said Faith McDonnell, the Institute on Religion & Democracy’s religious liberty director, in a statement.

Each year on Jan. 16, the United States celebrates Religious Freedom Day to commemorate the passage of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom by the Virginia General Assembly on the same day in 1786. The historic law was drafted by Thomas Jefferson and provides the inspiration and the framework for the religious freedom clauses in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

“Freedom is a gift from the Almighty, written in the heart and soul of every man, woman, and child, and we must continue to promote the importance of religious freedom at home and abroad,” said President George W. Bush, in a statement.

Some 250 million Christians worldwide will be persecuted in 2007, according to Release International. The persecution watchdog group noted that Christian persecution is growing fastest in the Muslim world.

McDonnell concluded, “In a world where darkness is increasingly being called light and evil called good, we must insure that this injustice is revealed.”

“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.”