Importance of Religious Freedom Commemorated in Yearly Event
Religious freedom will be celebrated in Fredericksburg to coincide with the 242nd anniversary of Thomas Jefferson’s drafting of the Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom. The annual religious freedom parade and ceremony will take place on Sunday, Jan. 13.
In January 1777, Thomas Jefferson came to Fredericksburg as part of a committee tasked with revising Virginia’s colonial laws. While here, the future president drafted the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom. The bill caused much debate and took nine years before passing the Virginia General Assembly on Jan. 16, 1786. The bill was the basis for the religion clause in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Jefferson felt strongly about religion, and his notes were very clear that the principle of religious freedom was meant to include every faith and denomination.
Each January since 1974, the Knights of Columbus have commemorated the bill and Jefferson’s role in preserving religious freedom in a ceremony for all faiths at the Monument for Religious Freedom in Fredericksburg.
The Religious Freedom Day celebration will start with a parade departing the Fredericksburg train station at 1:30 p.m. All religious groups are invited to march in the parade and carry a banner identifying their affiliation and showing their support for religious freedom.
A short parade through downtown Fredericksburg will end at the Thomas Jefferson Religious Freedom Monument on Washington Avenue. Most Reverend Joseph E. Kurtz, D.D., of the Archdiocese of Louisville, will deliver a keynote address. Kurtz serves as Chairman of the Committee for Religious Liberty of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). The Fredericksburg mayor’s office will make an official proclamation commemorating the bill. Virginia State Delegate Bobby Orrock will serve as the master of ceremonies. The festivities will culminate with the laying of a wreath at the monument.
Schedule of Events:
- 12:45 PM Parade Participants Assemble at Fredericksburg Train Station, 200 Lafayette Blvd.
- 1:30 PM Parade Begins
- 1:55 PM Parade Arrives at Religious Freedom Monument
- 2:00 PM Ceremony Begins