"There may not be any fireworks or family gatherings today, Religious Freedom Day. Most of us have never even heard of it. This is as remarkable as it is tragic, since it recalls an event that has profound significance for our contemporary debates over the proper role of religion in public life. The Day was created by Congress in 1991 to recognize the enactment of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom on January 16, 1786. It has been commemorated by presidential proclamation every year since.
But something strange, something ugly, has happened in recent years. The Christian Right has successfully turned—we would say redefined— the transformational ideas of the Framers of the Constitution into the ideological phalanx of their culture war campaigns. In 2014 alone, we saw the Hobby Lobby Supreme Court case (which allows corporations to impose certain religious views of owners and managers on employees) and the widespread introduction of bills in state legislatures authorizing anti-LGBTQ discrimination in the name of religious freedom. They call these bills that take away freedom, Religious Freedom Restoration Acts (RFRAs)."