WASHINGTON, January 19, 2004 ( – Last week President George W. Bush declared January 16 Religious Freedom Day explaining its significance saying “Americans acknowledge the centrality of their faith and reaffirm that the great strength of our country is the heart and soul of our citizens.”

As opposed to a warped sense of freedom of religion referring to freedom from religion, Bush spoke of, “Recognizing the importance of faith to our people, our Founding Fathers guaranteed religious freedom in the Constitution.”  In that spirit, the Bush Administration “issued new guidelines that allow students to engage in constitutionally protected religious activity in public schools,” recalled Bush.  “These guidelines protect, for example, students’ rights to say a prayer before meals in the cafeteria, to gather with other students before school to pray, and to engage in other expressions of personal faith.”

In line with freedom of religion, the President’s “Faith-Based and Community Initiative” demonstrates cooperation between church and state without the state infringing on the rights of the church. “My Administration continues to encourage the essential work of faith-based and community organizations,” said Bush. “Governments can and should support effective social services, including those provided by religious people and organizations. When government gives that support, it is important that faith-based institutions not be forced to change their religious character.”

With files from The White House


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