National Religious Freedom Day

A quick google search informed me that today, January 16th, is National Nothing Day, National Fig Newton Day, and National Religious Freedom Day. While I can't speak for everyone, in my opinion, that seems like a pretty wacky collection of significance—ranging all the way from nothing to a basic civil right. This, somewhat, leaves me at a loss. What is one to say to that?

National Nothing Day is supposed to be observed by literally doing nothing. It's supposed to be a day in which people don't have to think about any sort of holiday or celebration hanging over their head—my apologies to anyone who's birthday is today (Happy Birthday, nonetheless). But how are we supposed to celebrate nothing when there's also such an important day—National Fig Newton Day! Just kidding, of course, the important one in this clump is National Religious Freedom Day.

While Religious Freedom may seem like something that isn't relevant today, at least in America, there are many people still fighting for that same right all over the world. And even closer to home, there are people who are persecuted for the religions right here in our home country. Perhaps that's easy to overlook, though, because a mosque bombing doesn't seem as hateful as a genocide. Or maybe violence on your front doorsteps is easy to overlook because it doesn't seem like it's directly affecting you.

In 2017, Nancy Coleman of CNN reported that on average, 9 mosques were targetted every single month. That's 108 mosques in 1 year, all of which were on American soil. How can we pretend Religious Freedom isn't relevant today when our neighbors have every right to have fear following them into their place of worship.

Fine, let's not focus on the buildings but the people. Only looking at American soil, over the last 30 years, on average, 30 Muslim people have been killed for every 1 white non-Muslim American. If we also look at our occupation in Iraq, that number raises to 100 Muslim people for every non-Muslim American. And maybe I'm just surfing the wrong parts of the internet, but I rarely hear about these deaths.

Fine, let's not talk about murder or buildings. Female Muslim students are getting their hijabs tugged on every single day. Their faith being disregarded. Reports flood in about Muslim people being denied their right to worship in the workplace.

So maybe Religious Freedom is still important. While it's not illegal to worship in any religion, many people are still treating it as though it were, and many others are just letting that happen. So today, and every day, let us show kindness and openness to each other, despite what religion is being followed.