Bipartisan effort to promote religious freedom in Iowa

PrayingBy The Iowa Statesman


Religious freedom is very likely to be one of the most important issues of the 2016 election cycle. And, it’s an issue that doesn’t necessarily correspond to one party or the other; it’s an issue that impacts everyone.

Iowa Religious Freedom Day will be the product of a bipartisan group of state senators who are working together to focus on a “robust and diverse religious culture that benefits Iowa’s communities through selfless service, education, and public advocacy.” The event will be an informal forum at the Iowa Statehouse, according to the event’s primary organizer, state Sen. Jake Chapman (R-Adel).

He said he’s pleased so many of his colleagues have expressed an interest in broadening the conversation about religious freedom, with the hope of building on common ground. He said Iowa Religious Freedom Day will focus on the value of a robust and diverse religious culture that benefits Iowa’s communities through selfless service, education, and public advocacy.

The event will coincide with President Thomas Jefferson’s birthday, Monday, April 13. Jefferson drafted the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom, which was President James Madison’s inspiration for the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom envisioned a society where no one is compelled to support or denounce any particular religious viewpoint, but that all are free to argue their opinions in matters of religion without fear of public censure.

Iowa Religious Freedom Day activities will begin at 11:30 a.m. in the Statehouse rotunda with a short program. Community leaders will comment on the issue of religious freedom beginning at noon. The event is not a political rally; there currently is no legislation being considered on the issue of religious freedom. Chapman stressed the event is “meant to be welcoming, not adversarial.”

State Senator Jeff Danielson (D-Cedar Falls) said he supports the event because, “There are a lot of misunderstandings about religious liberty principles in these times.” He added that he wants to help bring people together for meaningful discussion.

Community supporters hope the event will remind Iowans of the benefits associated with a strong, diverse, and free religious climate, where all citizens are free to express and act on what they deeply believe.

CLICK HERE for more information about Iowa Religious Freedom Day.