Wednesday, January 16th marks the 233rd anniversary of the legal formalization of religious freedom in the United States of America. National Religious Freedom Day celebrates and honors an essential freedom in U.S. society. This day is strongly promoted in schools and universities to teach students, parents, and professors about the liberty to express and follow any religion.
The history of this holiday dates back to 1786 during the American Revolution. It was initiated when the Virginia General Assembly along with Thomas Jefferson passed the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom. The bill states that “all men shall be free to profess, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.” These principals inspired the First Amendment five years later.
Consider these concepts to increase your understanding of religious freedom:
- Awareness: Reflecting on the importance of this right generates an appreciation of different cultures and incentivizes learning about the diversity of beliefs. Start conversations with people that follow different religions and keep an open mind.
- Understanding Boundaries: Practicing a religion freely is separated from the state and government institutions.. In the U.S., religion isn’t supposed to be used as a political weapon.
- Respect: Acting respectfully when discussing, attending or learning about other religions is the first step toward mutual respect. Individuals or groups who don’t respect all religion freedom may be more likely to not respect other freedoms too.
- Education: Educate yourself about religions other than your own, or about various sects within the same religion. Take the time to listen, and get your facts and history right.
Sharon Schweitzer and Sophie Echeverry co-wrote this post. Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., is a cross-cultural trainer, modern manners expert, and the founder of Access to Culture. In addition to her accreditation in intercultural management from the HOFSTEDE Centre and the Intercultural Communication Institute, she serves as a Chinese Ceremonial Dining Etiquette Specialist in the documentary series Confucius was a Foodie, on Nat Geo People. She is the resident etiquette expert on two popular lifestyle shows: ABC Tampa Bay’s Morning Blend and CBS Austin’s We Are Austin. She is regularly quoted by BBC Capital, Investor’s Business Daily, and Fortune. Her Amazon #1 Best Selling book in International Business, Access to Asia: Your Multicultural Business Guide, now in its third printing, was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2015. She’s a winner of the British Airways International Trade Award at the 2016 Greater Austin Business Awards and the 2017 New York City Big Book Award for Multicultural Nonfiction.
Sophie Echeverry is the Corporate Marketing Manager and Event Coordinator at Access to Culture. Born and raised in Colombia, she’s a 2018 graduate with a B.B.A. in International Business and Marketing from Hult International Business School in San Francisco, CA. Sophie has co-written more than 30 blogs since graduation. She’s a passionate foodie, and an avid e-scooter rider. Follow her foodie Instagram account or Connect with her on LinkedIn.