Two DFL lawmakers plan to introduce a “Religious Freedom Day” resolution that condemns “Islamophobia” and celebrates “religious pluralism.”
According to a press release, Sen. John Marty (DFL-Roseville) will carry the bill in the Minnesota Senate while Rep. Todd Lippert (DFL-Northfield) will be its sponsor in the House. The two Democrats said their resolution points back to January 16, 1786, when the Virginia General Assembly passed the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom. As such, their bill would recognize every January 16 as “Religious Freedom Day” in Minnesota.
Sen. Marty said he supports the resolution “because some people are using the guise of religious liberty to enable government to promote their religious beliefs.” He went on to condemn a 2018 Republican effort to have the motto “In God We Trust” displayed in public schools, a move he called “offensive” at the time.
“The 2018 legislation calling for the posting of ‘In God We Trust’ in public schools certainly did not offer a welcome message to people who do not believe in God, to people who believe in different gods, or to Christians who don’t want government interfering with their religion and telling them what to believe,” said Marty.
“It is surprising that many of the people who say they want a smaller, less intrusive government are so eager to promote a government-sanctioned religious motto. This is an intrusion of government into the most personal parts of our lives,” he added.
Lippert, who is a senior pastor at the First United Church of Christ in Northfield, called “religious pluralism” one of “our strengths as a country” and a “core value.”
“We live in a time when Islamophobia and anti-Semitism are on the rise, and this is contrary to the vision of Jefferson and Madison. They wanted people to be free to follow their conscience on matters of faith, whether they practiced Christianity, another of the world’s religions, or chose to profess no faith at all. No matter how we pray, or don’t, we should be free to live our lives. That’s the promise,” said Lippert.
Marty, the son of author and theologian Dr. Martin Marty, said he finds it “offensive that people want government to either promote or attack the religious beliefs of any Americans.”
“When some politicians use religion to divide us from each other, promoting certain religious beliefs at the expense of others, it is important to speak out,” Marty said.
The two lawmakers plan to formally introduce their resolution at the beginning of the legislative session in February.
January 16 is already celebrated nationally as “Religious Freedom Day.” President Donald Trump hosted an event Thursday at the White House to mark the occasion and announced his plan to issue a “guidance on constitutional prayer in public schools.”
“We will not let anyone push God from the public square,” said the president.
The full text of the Minnesota resolution can be viewed below:
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