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Government must protect nonbelievers

Katrina Lantos Swett serves as chairwoman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). M. Zuhdi Jasser serves as a USCIRF commissioner. To learn more about the commission, go to uscirf.gov.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

BY KATRINA LANTOS SWETT AND M. ZUHDI JASSER

On Wednesday, the United States observed its annual National Religious Freedom Day. This day commemorates the Virginia General Assembly’s adoption in 1786 of Thomas Jefferson’s Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom and celebrates the enshrining of this right in the U.S. Constitution and our country’s culture.

While religious freedom is an integral part of our heritage, it also is misunderstood. A key misunderstanding concerns the matter of belief. Simply stated, religious freedom means not only the right to believe, but the freedom to disbelieve — to embrace any religion and to reject every religion.

People express their religious freedom by choosing theism, atheism or any other response to ultimate questions. Religious freedom allows them to follow wherever their conscience leads.

To read the rest of this Richmond Times-Dispatch Op-Ed, click here.

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