Written by Don Byrd
Today is Constitution Day, the day we celebrate the September 17 anniversary of the signing of America’s governing document. The Constitution as amended serves as the foundation of our individual rights, including of course our rights of religious freedom, enshrined in 16 words of the First Amendment:
Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.
The Constitution also guarantees that the right to serve the public as a government official will not depend on adherence to any religious belief. Article VI forbids the requirement of a religious test for public office (a prohibition in the law that some officials have needed to be reminded of recently).
The constitutional guarantees of religious freedom have led to a society of unprecedented religious diversity and robust religious expression. For more on Constitution Day and the role of religious liberty in our Constitution, see the excellent resource page of the Baptist Joint Committee, which continues to educate and advocate on behalf of religious liberty for all.