The Audacity of Irony: Obama and “Religious Freedom Day”
Religion & Liberty Online

The Audacity of Irony: Obama and “Religious Freedom Day”

Yesterday, while his lawyers were busy defending against charges that the Obama administration violated the religious freedoms of his fellow citizens, President Obama was designating January 17 as Religious Freedom Day.

Religious-Freedom-protesters560x350The author of the The Audacity of Hope has the audacity to hope that Americans will not snicker at the idea that he’s a defender of religious liberty. In his proclamation, Obama says,

Today, we also remember that religious liberty is not just an American right; it is a universal human right to be protected here at home and across the globe. This freedom is an essential part of human dignity, and without it our world cannot know lasting peace.

To be fair, Religious Freedom Day is proclaimed every year, so Obama really had no choice but to say that religious liberty is a universal human right that should be protected—even while his administration works tirelessly to undermine the religious liberty freedoms of Americans.

As Amy Payne notes, more than 110 plaintiffs are fighting the HHS mandate, and that’s hardly the only religious liberty battle being waged. The Supreme Court has already rebuked the Administration for its attacks on religious liberty—and it did so unanimously.

Religious Freedom Day commemorates the anniversary of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, written by Thomas Jefferson, which states: “no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion.”

If President Obama takes Jefferson’s words seriously he can prove it by repealing the conscience-violating HHS mandate. Otherwise, next year he should spare us the hypocrisy and irony of another Religious Freedom Day proclamation.

Joe Carter

Joe Carter is a Senior Editor at the Acton Institute. Joe also serves as an editor at the The Gospel Coalition, a communications specialist for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and as an adjunct professor of journalism at Patrick Henry College. He is the editor of the NIV Lifehacks Bible and co-author of How to Argue like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicator (Crossway).