An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov

A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS

A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

You are viewing ARCHIVED CONTENT released online from January 20, 2017 to January 20, 2021.

Content in this archive site is NOT UPDATED, and links may not function.

For current information, go to

Today, the United States commemorates National Religious Freedom Day.  On this day, more than 230 years ago, Thomas Jefferson penned the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, landmark legislation that inspired the enshrinement of freedom of religion or belief in the First Amendment of the Constitution and Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The United States reaffirms its commitment to advancing religious freedom around the world, including ensuring the right of every person to exercise their freedom of thought, conscience, and religion; change their beliefs; worship alone or in community; and teach their beliefs.

Our framers understood that a nation flourishes when individuals can exercise their freedom of religion or belief.  A government’s role is to protect this right, not to propagate a particular religious ideology.

On National Religious Freedom Day, we renew our resolve to champion religious freedom as America’s first freedom and a universal human right around world.

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future