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Religious Freedom Day

  • Thursday, January 16, 2020

We would like to thank Marie and Ann for working with the Mayor's Office to accomplish this.

(pdf download)

City of Pittsburgh

Office of the Mayor

A Proclamation


January 16, 2020

WHEREAS, the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom (the “Statute”), which was written by Thomas Jefferson and championed by James Madison and served as the forerunner to the approach to religion and government by the Framers of the Constitution in 1787, was enacted on January 16, 1786; and

WHEREAS, religious freedom is a fundamental American and human right and a cornerstone of democracy, a right for all rather than a privilege for the few, and the fundamental right applies to people of all and of no religious affiliations or beliefs; the Statute insists on equality as a guiding and governing principle, specifying that one’s religious identity should be neither an advantage nor a disadvantage under the law; and

WHEREAS, the Statute declared that “… all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities,” and that Thomas Jefferson later said that religious freedom encompasses “the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and [Muslim], the [Hindu], and infidel of every denomination; and

WHEREAS, these principles are not only foundational, but remain essential to the health and future of our democracy, and the government may not favor one religion over another, or over nonreligion, without fatally undermining religious freedom; and

WHEREAS, these principles should guide and inform judicial decisions, legislation and public policy-making at all levels of government; in 1992, Congress designated January 16th as Religious Freedom Day––to celebrate the enactment of the Statute, stipulating only that it be commemorated by a presidential proclamation; the Statute was central in shaping one of the highest aspirations of the American experiment: religious freedom.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that I, William Peduto, Mayor of the City of Pittsburgh, do hereby declare January 16, 2020, “Religious Freedom Day,” here in our most livable City of Pittsburgh.

William Peduto


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