USA (MNN/Open Doors) — While the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church falls on the second Sunday of November every year, another important Sunday is approaching for both persecuted and free Christians.
According to Assist News, Religious Freedom Sunday is a day for churches to talk to their congregations about their freedom of religious expression. Religious Freedom Sunday is Jan. 15. It will precede Religious Freedom Day on Monday, Jan. 16.
Religious Freedom Day marks the anniversary of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom in 1786. It stopped the practice of taxing people to pay for the support of the local clergy, and it protected the civil rights of people to express their religious beliefs without suffering discrimination. Thomas Jefferson and James Madison authored this important legislation, which later played a major role in the development of the First Amendment.
During Religious Freedom Sunday, churches have the opportunity to inform their congregations about the religious liberties of public school students. It also serves as a way for Christians to prepare for Religious Freedom Day.
Open Doors and Gateways to Better Education are teaming up to encourage Americans to learn more about their religious freedom.
"We are very grateful to be collaborating with Gateways to Better Education for Religious Freedom Sunday," says Dr. Carl Moeller, President/CEO of Open Doors USA. "We hope that American Christians will take this opportunity to learn more about their religious freedoms so that they can advocate on behalf of those who share our faith but not our freedom."
Eric Buehrer, President of Gateways to Better Education, says: "There is a natural fit between Open Doors and Gateways: Open Doors brings awareness to the need for religious freedom internationally, and Gateways brings awareness to the religious freedom we have, but often don't realize we have, domestically in our public schools.
"Not being aware of our religious freedom and, therefore, not exercising it, is like being unaware that someone set up a bank account for you and deposited a million dollars in it–it does you no good. Too many children and young people are under the misguided impression that they cannot express their faith while in a public school. And too many teachers think they must make their classrooms 'religion-free zones.'"
Religious Freedom Sunday has been recognized since 2008 by Gateways to Better Education. To help churches prepare for Religious Freedom Sunday, Gateways for Better Education has prepared a pamphlet for students. "Free to Speak" is a pocket-sized summary of the U.S. Department of Education guidelines explaining students' religious liberties. Churches can find this and other useful information at www.ReligiousFreedomSunday.com.
An estimated 100 million Christians worldwide suffer interrogation, arrest, and even death for their faith in Christ, with millions more facing discrimination and alienation. Open Doors supports and strengthens believers in the world's most difficult areas through Bible and Christian literature distribution, leadership training and assistance, Christian community development, prayer and presence ministry, and advocacy on behalf of suffering believers.
To partner with Open Doors USA, call toll free 888-5-BIBLE-5 (888-524-2535), or go to our Web site at www.OpenDoorsUSA.org.