The full text of the act can be read here. Let me extract its final paragraph:
“Be it enacted by General Assembly that no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief, but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of Religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge or affect their civil capacities. And though we well know that this Assembly elected by the people for the ordinary purposes of Legislation only, have no power to restrain the acts of succeeding Assemblies constituted with powers equal to our own, and that therefore to declare this act irrevocable would be of no effect in law; yet we are free to declare, and do declare that the rights hereby asserted, are of the natural rights of mankind, and that if any act shall be hereafter passed to repeal the present or to narrow its operation, such act will be an infringement of natural right.”
The above final paragraph is inspiring to me in that it mandates tolerance for any religious position as well as the ability to refrain from participation in any religious institution without diminution of civil rights. Your personal position on this subject is thereby guaranteed to be your sovereign choice, for which there will be no civil consequences. It fundamentally supports not only pluralism of religious belief, but also is worded in such a manner that it allows for one’s opinion on religious matters to be non-belief, and thus the non-participation in “any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever.”
It further recognizes that subsequent legislation might limit or overthrow this broad freedom, but then states to resist such amendment that any abrogation of such would be in defiance of natural rights, which are considered by those who authored the Virginia Statute to be inherent and thus inalienable. We Satanists understand that all rights are privileges granted by society and its governing bodies—but the sentiment here is that this manner of freedom must be considered essential to human society. I personally consider it to be a necessary element of any social contract that I would endorse, and I applaud the spirit of the composers of this enactment.
All who cherish self-determination can find common cause to celebrate this day, as this unlimited intellectual autonomy is a rare and precious thing when observing human history, and not only should it be cherished, but cultivated as an essential aspect for human civilization.
—Magus Peter H. Gilmore
Members of the Church of Satan celebrate Religious Freedom Day:
On this Religious Freedom Day let us recall that our First Amendment to the Constitution of United States of America
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
was informed by Thomas Jefferson’s Virginia Statute on Religious Freedom stating in part
“That our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry; that therefore the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages to which in common with his fellow-citizens he has a natural right; that it tends only to corrupt the principles of that religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing with a monopoly of worldly honours and emoluments, those who will externally profess and conform to it; that though indeed these are criminal who do not withstand such temptation, yet neither are those innocent who lay the bait in their way;” Was fought and sacrificed for in every conflict since.
That our forefathers paid the ultimate price so we could believe and worship or not in our own way, so that I could openly state without fear of discrimination I am a Satanist, I will forever be thankful and take upon that spirit the mantle of defending those civil rights that are not granted but inherent in our constitution and remind those that to require or insist upon following their beliefs is nothing short of criminal.
I will not forget. I will not sit down. Hail Satan!
When I was on my way to work in Alexandria, Virginia on a sunny September day in 2001, I had never imagined that the plane flying over my car would strike the Pentagon. None of us could have imagined this scenario playing out the way that it did.
It was an act of war, clearly; but who? Some bearded man half way across the world claimed responsibility for cutting all those lives short in the name of Al Qaeda, an organization most of us had never heard of at the time but few of us can say we haven’t heard of today. It was terrorism. We were fortunate to have somehow evaded the Jihadist sword of Islam until that sunny September day. Before we knew it, the United States was locked in another war of ideologies that can’t be won with words alone, but with strong and decisive actions.
The western world’s sense of security was shattered that day, and we continue to suffer the intrusions of organizations like the Transportation Security Administration to this day, all in the name of safety and security. Our founding fathers understood that sacrificing our freedoms in the name of security was a mistake.
As a Satanist, it is my natural inclination to be an adversary—we can’t allow people that believe in childish fancies such as invisible wizards in the sky to dictate the quality of how the rest of us live our lives. Today is Religious Freedom Day, and I am proud as hell to be serving in the greatest military that has ever existed, in the greatest country that has ever existed. A country whose founding principles allow an infidel like myself to stand up, to be that person that brings strong and decisive actions to those that would seek to use their religion to deny others their right to live a fulfilling life and tell them, “No.”
Those comprising the seemingly all-inclusive vacation package from fearing and hating those they feel to be unlike themselves make for most celebrating Religious Freedom Day. The majority purpose is that of the majority demographic, after all. If able, they'd realize their limitations if encountering The Truly Lone Traveler. The Satanist. And their faith buffet would be seen for what it is. Lacking in The Epicurean Department.
If one goes back and reads past presidential proclamations related to this occasion, the repetition and content create want. Want for more. So much more. A "please, let's just speed up this incredibly overdue Overcoming" more. Each is only Like Most. Were I a teacher grading these writings on originality of content, I'd fail them all for plagarism of one another and their collective cheapening of how the human animal expresses so much of what she finds to be meaningful. All of the ways as a spectrum. How learning about others could really be encouraged. And my reason for feeling this day to be deeply important, the freedom FROM faith in theistic religion, only began being briefly mentioned in those proclamations very recently.
A freedom "given" should not be mistaken for a game "won." I like to say that Anton Szandor LaVey discovered a species when he codified Satanism. And it is of only so much use to concern The Self with what others "should," as that subtracts from what they do respond to and why. That said, these brief mentions are a real step forward and reason to celebrate.
I was not born when the 1786 Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom was written, but I am glad and tremendously proud to be a citizen of a country that champions the secular and pluralism of religion. Thomas Jefferson had written this statute many years before it was legislated and knew this right, that every American, no matter the religion, sect, or denomination, was one of the many foundations of our civil liberties.
Although there are those in every religion that take this day as an opportunity to force feed the gullible, the youth and the misguided, as well as all other people, in order to vainly and feebly attempt to evangelically promote their chosen religious path, this statute set forth by Jefferson and enacted in 1786 by James Madison, not only protected our Religious Freedom from government, but also from those in other religions from doing that very thing. It is a time to reflect, cherish and take pride in our own respective religions, practices, or belief systems.
My favorite passage from this statute is “within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mohametan, the Hindoo and Infidel of every denomination.” As a Satanist, I am the Infidel of all other denominations…the adversary, the one who opposes. This right not only gave us the freedom OF religion, but also the freedom FROM religion. As much as our government has no right to tell its citizens who, what, or how, when, or where to worship, believe, or the lack thereof, other religions do not have the right to force their beliefs upon us. As Satanists, we have the delightful right to tell all who attempt to say, “thou shalt” to us, to take a flying leap!
Every day is Religious Freedom Day, but this day has been made a holiday to celebrate that very right. So, today, I will be donning my Sigil of Baphomet even more proudly than I normally do, and knowing that wherever I travel today—whatever I do today, I can do it with the magnificent feeling of being a celebrant of a day that gives us the right to proudly call ourselves Satanists, the Highest Embodiments of Human Life, and the Infidels we have the right to be!
In celebration of this day, and as a token of my appreciation for what the Church of Satan and its Members accomplish, iSatanist would like to offer all Satanists 20% off your entire order for today ONLY! Visit www.iSatanist.com and enter coupon code: FREEDOM2017
The Satanic Players Society takes a moment to pay homage to Religious Freedom Day by having some of its members read quotes that have meaning to them on a personal level.
While a lot of our material is tongue in cheek and is created to have fun while showcasing satanic talent, we fully understand that without legislative protection like the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom signed in 1786 there would be no protection against religious zealots who would persecute us.
Throughout the ages, history has recorded the horrors that mankind has inflicted on itself when church and state becomes one. The Dark Ages, the Spanish Inquisition, the Middle East conflicts to name but a few. We must never be complacent in reminding people that religion has no place in the creation of law or government policy.
While you enjoy our short performance please take a moment to reflect on the liberties you enjoy while saying Hail Satan!
Today I celebrate my here and now unencumbered. I feel no shame for my indulgences or my inclinations and I have no fear of eternal consequence. I will love, I will laugh, I will hate, I will snarl, and every moment will be equally precious to me, for today I am alive!
My religion does not only permit, but challenges me to be my own god. This is not a responsibility that I take lightly, nor is my practice of it a privilege that I take for granted. I was fortunate enough to be born into a culture which allows me to choose my own religious path. I have used that opportunity to crown myself as the ruler of my own universe and the word is that I’ve been doing a pretty great job so far.
Americans often misinterpret this freedom of religion as an inalienable right, yet every day from across the world there is ample evidence being broadcasted directly into our front pockets that should prove to us otherwise. Today, many will use the significance of this date to focus attention on that religious intolerance and extremist violence around the world, but in my universe they will only serve as a stark reminder that our freedom of religion absolutely can be taken away and that there are plenty of organizations trying their damnedest to do so.
No, I won’t spend today bemoaning a freedom that others do not have, I will be too busy celebrating and exercising a freedom that I indeed do have, and anyone who tries to stop me is gonna have Hell to pay!
Robert Johnson, publisher of Old Nick Magazine & author of “The Satanic Warlock”
In celebration of Religious Freedom Day let all free thinkers reflect on these quotes from defenders of sane thought who believe that “religious freedom” also includes NOT believing in religion — Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchins:
“We are all atheists about most of the gods that societies have ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further.”
“By all means let's be open-minded, but not so open-minded that our brains drop out.”
“Let children learn about different faiths, let them notice their incompatibility, and let them draw their own conclusions about the consequences of that incompatibility. As for whether they are ‘valid,’ let them make up their own minds when they are old enough to do so.”
“One of the things that is wrong with religion is that it teaches us to be satisfied with answers which are not really answers at all.”
“Science is the poetry of reality.”
“We keep on being told that religion, whatever its imperfections, at least instills morality. On every side, there is conclusive evidence that the contrary is the case and that faith causes people to be more mean, more selfish, and perhaps above all, more stupid.”
“To terrify children with the image of hell, to consider women an inferior creation—is that good for the world?”
“Beware the irrational, however seductive. Shun the 'transcendent' and all who invite you to subordinate or annihilate yourself. Distrust compassion; prefer dignity for yourself and others. Don't be afraid to be thought arrogant or selfish. Picture all experts as if they were mammals. Never be a spectator of unfairness or stupidity. Seek out argument and disputation for their own sake; the grave will supply plenty of time for silence. Suspect your own motives, and all excuses. Do not live for others any more than you would expect others to live for you.”
“The essence of the independent mind lies not in what it thinks, but in how it thinks.”
“Our belief is not a belief. Our principles are not a faith. We do not rely solely upon science and reason, because these are necessary rather than sufficient factors, but we distrust anything that contradicts science or outrages reason. We may differ on many things, but what we respect is free inquiry, open-mindedness, and the pursuit of ideas for their own sake.”
On behalf of the hosts of Radio Free Satan, I'd like raise a toast to all those who have stepped forward in society as Satanists and exercised their right to practice the religion of their natural inclination. We also salute those who refrain from any religious practice, especially in environments where pressured to fall in line with a particular persuasion.