The right of conscience and the right to practice faith according to personal beliefs are sacred and should not be infringed or denied. In the birthplace of religious freedom, state police chaplains should not be censored; students should be allowed to share their faith at graduations; Christian run businesses should not be forced to hire people whose lifestyle is contradictory to their faith; pastors should not fear reprisal for speaking against lifestyles contrary to their beliefs. Yet in Virginia today, all those scenarios have either happened or could happen in the very near future if we don’t reestablish our First Freedom. While our state Constitution contains the Statute for Religious Freedom, penned by Thomas Jefferson, it is no longer being applied appropriately.
For over three decades, the Judeo-Christian heritage of our nation and our Commonwealth has been under constant assault. The “separation of church and state” message of the media, politicians, and special interest groups like the ACLU, and the actions of activist judges, have whittled away at one of our most precious liberties—the right to practice our faith in public:
- A high school senior was denied the privilege of singing at her graduation ceremony because the song she chose to sing, “The Prayer” by Celine Dion, mentioned “God.”
- A student at a public high school was denied the right to wear a pro-life t-shirt because the school considered it “religious expression.”
- A public middle school Fellowship of Christian Athletes chapter was prevented from gathering during a period allotted for club meetings because of its status as a “religious club.”
- A first grade student was not allowed to read a book in front of her class because it contained the word “God.
- A student whose art project, assigned just after 9/11, was torn up because it contained the words “God Bless America.”
The Family Foundation wants to reestablish Virginia as the model for religious liberty by increasing the legal protections for public displays of faith.
What we are doing:
- Supporting Religious Liberty in Schools | students in public schools do not check their religious liberty rights at the schoolhouse door. They have the right to express their faith in the classroom and share their faith with others.
- Protecting Religious Liberty | Virginia’s Constitution includes the Statute for Religious Freedom, the model for our First Amendment religious expression rights. Sadly, however, it has been misinterpreted and misused to thwart religious freedom. Additional protections are needed to ensure our religious freedoms.