The Monument of Religious Freedom in Fredericksburg, VA. The plaque is reproduced at right.

Religious Freedom Day

Fredericksburg, Virginia

January 12, 2014

January 12, 2104 - After two days of cold rain and fog in north central Virginia, the skies cleared and temperatures soared into the mid-50s just in time for the annual Religious Freedom Day celebrations in Fredericksburg.  And as they have for more than 40 years, the Knights of Columbus led the effort, including participation of nearly 50 Fourth Degree Knights.

 

Religious Freedom Day commemorates the adoption of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom by the General Assembly on January 16, 1786. The document was written by Thomas Jefferson, who directed that it be included as one of three "things that he had given the people." The other two were having written the Declaration of Independence and being "Father of the University of Virginia."

 

The keynote speaker at the 2014 ceremonies in Fredericksburg was William J. Murray, Director of the Religious Freedom Coalition. Murray is a son of the late Madalyn Murray O'Hair, the founder of American Atheists. William Murray took a very different course, becoming a Baptist in 1980, and has spent his life since then fighting for the rights of Christians, especially in Islamic and Communist countries around the world.

 

The Religious Freedom Day celebration in Fredericksburg includes participation by a wide variety of religious groups and individuals who are united in their support of the fundamental right of religious freedom.

"From a meeting in Fredericksburg, January 13-17, 1777, of a committee of revisors appointed by the General Assembly of Virginia. Composed of Thomas Jeffererson, George Mason, Edmund Pendleton, George Wythe and Thomas Ludwell Lee to 'settle the plan of operation and to distribute the work' - evolved

 

The Statute of Religious Freedom authored by Thomas Jefferson.

 

In this document the United States of America made probably its greatest contribution to government recognition of religious freedom."

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