A statement from President Obama proclaiming January 16th national Religious Freedom Day.
Among other sentiments, President Obama expresses the following:
My Administration continues to defend the cause of religious freedom in the United States and around the world. At home, we vigorously protect the civil rights of Americans, regardless of their religious beliefs. Across the globe, we also seek to uphold this human right and to foster tolerance and peace with those whose beliefs differ from our own. We bear witness to those who are persecuted or attacked because of their faith. We condemn the attacks made in recent months against Christians in Iraq and Egypt, along with attacks against people of all backgrounds and beliefs. The United States stands with those who advocate for free religious expression and works to protect the rights of all people to follow their conscience, free from persecution and discrimination.
But what really caught my attention was the quote from Jefferson at the beginning of the statement:
On Religious Freedom Day, we commemorate Virginia’s 1786 Statute for Religious Freedom, in which Thomas Jefferson wrote that “all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion.”
And by argument to maintain. I wonder what is entailed by the criterion, if we can call it that, of “argument”? Perhaps Jefferson is simply borrowing from the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of religious expression. Having a little Greek here would help support this view. “And by logos to maintain” which gives us both “speech” as well as “reason” or “argument”.