St. Paul, MN – Senator John Marty (Roseville) & Rep. Todd Lippert (Northfield) announced plans to introduce a Joint Resolution in the House and Senate to recognize each January 16th as “Religious Freedom Day” in Minnesota. Their resolution points back to January 16 of 1786, when the Virginia General Assembly passed the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom, a seminal document that was a model that led to the guarantee of religious freedom in the first amendment to the constitution.
“While religious freedom shouldn’t be a controversial topic in America, we are introducing this resolution because some people are using the guise of religious liberty to enable government to promote their religious beliefs,” Senator Marty said.
“The 2018 legislation calling for the posting of ‘In God We Trust’ in public schools certainly did not offer a welcome message to people who do not believe in God, to people who believe in different gods, or to Christians who don’t want government interfering with their religion and telling them what to believe,” Marty explained. “It is surprising that many of the people who say they want a smaller, less intrusive government are so eager to promote a government-sanctioned religious motto. This is an intrusion of government into the most personal parts of our lives.”
Marty and Lippert said that by recalling the history of religious freedom and commemorating Thomas Jefferson’s Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom, “we remember the importance of religious liberty for all – people of any religious faith and people with none.”
“Religious pluralism is one of our strengths as a country, and we need to stay rooted in this core value. We live in a time when Islamophobia and Anti-Semitism are on the rise, and this is contrary to the vision of the Jefferson and Madison. They wanted people to be free to follow their conscience on matters of faith, whether they practiced Christianity, another of the world’s religions, or chose to profess no faith at all. No matter how we pray, or don’t, we should be free to live our lives. That’s the promise,” Representative Lippert said.
“James Madison warned that government promotion of certain beliefs ‘degrades from the equal rank of citizens all those whose opinions in Religion do not bend to those of the Legislative authority.’ When some politicians use religion to divide us from each other, promoting certain religious beliefs at the expense of others, it is important to speak out, Senator Marty said. “As people with deeply-held religious beliefs, we find it offensive that people want government to either promote or attack the religious beliefs of any Americans.”
Senator Marty is son of noted theologian and author Dr. Martin Marty, and the great-grandson, grandson, son, brother, and father of Lutheran ministers. Rep. Lippert is senior minister at First United Church of Christ in Northfield. They plan to introduce the joint resolution at the beginning of the session in February.
The text of the resolution can be found here.