One of the best ways to commemorate Religious Freedom Day is to tell your students about their religious freedom in your classroom and school. Educators and administrators should not fear that acknowledging the Day means that a school is promoting religions represented in the community. School officials might be hesitant to acknowledge Religious Freedom Day thinking they will need to have a school assembly giving a platform to various religious speakers. This is not necessary. Religious Freedom Day is an opportunity for a civics lesson regarding Americans’ freedom to express and live out their faith.
Here are ideas you can use to recognize Religious Freedom Day:
1. Read the Presidential Proclamation.
The proclamation is on the White House website at www.whitehouse.gov . At the homepage, look for a search icon on the top right corner and enter "Religious Freedom Day." If this year's proclamation is not posted in time for you to use it in class, consider using previous year's proclamations found on our homepage: www.religiousfreedomday.com.
2. Have students write a paper on "What religious freedom means to me."
3. Distribute to students copies of the U.S. Department of Education's guidelines on students' religious liberties.
If teachers do nothing else to commemorate Religious Freedom Day, this alone will do more to promote real freedom at your school. The teacher can also write a letter to parents and staple it to the guidelines. The letter can introduce Religious Freedom Day and convey, "Our school is a safe place for your child to express your family's religious faith." (Click here to print a copy of the U.S. Department of Education's guidelines on students' religious liberties.)
4. Talk about countries where freedom of religion is not allowed.
For research on this, click on the link below:
5. Distribute and discuss the Virginia Statute on Religious Freedom drafted by Thomas Jefferson.
Since the writing style of the statute is difficult to read, discuss each sentence with the students and have the class write a paraphrased version of the statute. Click here for the statute. (Click here for a sample paraphrase of this document.)
6. Show this short video to students as part of the morning announcements.
To commemorate Religious Freedom Day in your whole school ask your administrator to play the video in each classroom during announcements.
7. Be sure to spread the word about Religious Freedom Day to your colleagues.