Governor Bob McDonnell issued the following statement on the anniversary of the enactment of Thomas Jefferson's Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom on January 16, 1786. He has also issued a proclamation recognizing today as Religious Freedom Day in the Commonwealth. The proclamation was read on the floor of the Senate today by Senator Bill Stanley and on the floor of the House by Delegate Chris Peace. The proclamation is available at http://www.governor.virginia.gov/OurCommonwealth/Proclamations/viewproc.cfm?id=238
"The enactment of Virginia's Statute of Religious Freedom marked the first formal declaration of religious freedom in America. The promise of that freedom, later enshrined in the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, has made us a beacon of liberty for the world. Virginia's statute remains in place today, and the importance of recognizing and protecting religious liberty has not diminished over the years. It defines our nation. The author of Virginia's statute, Thomas Jefferson, recognized the importance of those words, choosing his authorship as one of only three accomplishments to be listed on his headstone. I have declared today, January 16, 2013, Religious Freedom Day in our Commonwealth, and I ask all of our citizens to pause and reflect on those freedoms, first articulated and enacted by Thomas Jefferson and the Virginia General Assembly, that we now hold so dear."