In a proclamation released this morning, Donald Trump declared January 16, 2018 "Religious Freedom Day" to commemorate the 232nd anniversary of the Virginia General Assembly passing the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom, the first statute of its kind.
However, the seemingly innocuous proclamation, which claims to celebrate "Americans from diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds" contains references to politicized policies that appeal to Trump's evangelical base.
"Unfortunately, not all have recognized the importance of religious freedom, whether by threatening tax consequences for particular forms of religious speech, or forcing people to comply with laws that violate their core religious beliefs without sufficient justification," Trump writes in the proclamation. "These incursions, little by little, can destroy the fundamental freedom underlying our democracy."
“President Donald J. Trump Proclaims January 16, 2018, as Religious Freedom Day” https://t.co/bD3R2dJfyp
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 16, 2018
This perspective is particularly salient as the jury is still out on Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, where the Supreme Court will determine if citizens can violate anti-LGBT discrimination laws in the name of religion.
"No American — whether a nun, nurse, baker, or business owner — should be forced to choose between the tenets of faith or adherence to the law," the proclamation reads, explicitly referencing the baker on trial for refusing to make wedding cakes for LGBT couples.
Trump also references a memo released by the Department of Justice that contained pro-religious guidelines many have called "a right to discriminate."
After the proclamation was released, "Religious Freedom Day" began trending on Twitter, with people critizing how Trump's policies have only defended his religion while discriminating against Muslims. Others called out the message as a thinly veiled attack on LGBT Americans.
NEW: By proclamation, Trump declares today Religious Freedom Day to "celebrate the many faiths that make up our country."
It comes after Trump first signed an EO, last January, halting all refugee admissions & temporarily barring people from 7 Muslim-majority countries.
— Peter Alexander (@PeterAlexander) January 16, 2018
It's really freedom for evangelicals to be bigots.
— (@sunoppositemoon) January 16, 2018
#ReligiousFreedomDay Christian extremists do not understand what religious freedom means. They seem to want Christianity to rule the day everywhere: the courts, the schools, the culture. That's the opposite of religious freedom. pic.twitter.com/QTwC4ru4VQ
— Howeasyweforget (@howeasyweforget) January 16, 2018
"Today is the federal observance of evangelical Christians who voted for me Religious Freedom day."
Fixed it for you.
— Marilyn McCoy (@flynn25m) January 16, 2018
Christians: Hooray! We've been protected from business discrimination since the Civil Rights Act of 1964!
Gay Americans: Hey, can we get in on that?
Christians: YOU WANT SPECIAL RIGHTS!!!
— JoeMyGod (@JoeMyGod) January 16, 2018
Here’s Trump’s Religious Freedom Day proclamation.
It gives a nod to Trump administration’s belief that religion supersedes gay civil rights laws — favoring bakers ’n such who turn away same-sex couples. https://t.co/sneqVigjoV pic.twitter.com/GBSsVNgVdR
— Dominic Holden (@dominicholden) January 16, 2018
Yes! And no American should have another person's faith foisted upon them. Choosing no faith should also be protected.
— Gloria Miele, Ph.D. (@GloriaMiele) January 16, 2018
“The government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.”
— Brent S. (@sigdaddy420) January 16, 2018
Persecuting LGBT individuals under the guise of religion isn't an exercise of faith; it's pure, unadulterated discrimination.
— James Harmon (@The_Real_Malloy) January 16, 2018
Does freedom of religion include freedom from it?