Proclamation 5866 -- Religious Freedom Week, 1988
the President of the
America's creed of liberty has never been expressed better than in the words of the Book of Leviticus emblazoned on the Liberty Bell, ``Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.'' The American people have long recognized that the liberty we cherish must include the freedom to worship God as each of us pleases. We can all rejoice in noting that a critical step in the history of this freedom was taken nearly two centuries ago this month.
The religious liberty described in this Amendment is the protection of religion and conscience from government interference. It creates neither hostility between government and religion nor a civil religion of secularism. The fundamental principle of religious liberty, that government can neither forbid nor force the people's practice of religion, was essential to the founding of our Nation. Our leaders knew that faith blesses men and nations alike as it fosters morality and justice. George Washington stated in his Farewell Address, ``Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.'' The Northwest Ordinance of 1787, which the Congress reenacted in 1789, similarly stated, ``Religion, morality, and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of learning shall forever be encouraged.''
Founders realized that we must guard freedom of religion with eternal vigilance
against tyranny and bigotry.
President Washington proudly called this policy ``enlarged and liberal'' and ``worthy of imitation.'' Through the years, Americans of goodwill have echoed these sentiments, seeking freedom, brotherhood, justice, and reconciliation. We will always do so if we continue to revere the First Amendment's protection of religious freedom.
Congress, by House Joint Resolution 518, has designated the week of
Therefore, I, Ronald Reagan, President of the
Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-seventh day of
September, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and eighty-eight, and of
[Filed with the Office
of the Federal Register, ,