Written By: Noor Saleh, Former Policy Analyst
This is a repost from October 2021.
October 27th is International Religious Freedom Day, an opportunity to celebrate the freedom we have achieved, reflect on how we got here, and remember those who are still experiencing oppression.
On this day, we would like to recognize the freedom we are given: the freedom to worship or not to worship any higher power in any way we want. The ability to worship without fear of punishment has helped us ground ourselves in our faith, spirituality, and worldview.
The First Amendment, adopted on December 15, 1971, set the grounds for the separation between church and state and prohibited the federal government from establishing any state religion. The 14th Amendment, adopted in 1868, extended religious freedom by preventing states from inhibiting any faith practice.
The passing of both amendments catalyzed freedom of religion through legislation, but the fight is not over. Christians, Muslims, and Tibetan Buddhists, among other religions, continue to be oppressed in China through the country’s facial recognition technology and artificial intelligence. Similarly, individuals in India have been prohibited from converting religions, while accusations of systemic discrimination against Muslims and attacks on religious minorities have grown.
Today, we remember those who got us to where we are, but we also remember those currently oppressed. We recognize the Uyghurs who are presently kept in concentration camps, and we remember the Rohingyas who have been forcibly removed from their lands.
While we recognize our freedoms, we must use our right to worship to advocate for those robbed of it. We do this by engaging our elected officials, creating awareness of issues both in and out of our country, and continuing to start conversations about the right and freedom to worship for all.