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."
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.
Does freedom of religion include freedom from it?