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West Jordan Journal

Religious Freedom Day declared in West Jordan

Feb 08, 2021 02:30PM ● By Erin Dixon

West Jordan has followed in federal and state footsteps in declaring Jan. 16 as Religious Freedom Day. (Pixabay)

By Erin Dixon | [email protected]

Jan. 16, 1786, the first law in the United States to protect freedom of religion was passed. 

In 1992, National Religious Freedom Day was approved by the United States Congress. This day is celebrated on Jan. 16 each year. 

In January 2021, West Jordan passed its own resolution recognizing National Religious Freedom day, also on Jan. 16. 

Councilmembers Kayleen Whitelock and Zach Jacob co-presented the resolution. 

“This is a time when it’s needed, that it’s important that we recognize we can be different and still get along and be peaceful,” Whitelock said. 

“I think it’s a good step to take,” Jacob said. “Some of these really speak to me. ‘One’s religious identity should neither be an advantage or disadvantage under the law and should not affect your civil rights one way or the other.’”

Councilmembers Kelvin Green and Chad Lamb were in support of religious freedom, but didn’t think the city needed to repeat what has already been said. 

“I spent 39 years, eight months, 14 days in the United States Army defending the constitution,” Green said. “But the constitution is more than one civil right. My concern is how much does this distract from the city. Does this get the city involved in things we have zero control over because we don’t deal with religious freedom in the city. If we do, the city’s violating the First Amendment. Does that mean we’re going to need to have a freedom of the press day and an illegal search and seizure day?” 

He added at the end of his comment: “I’m not going to vote against this because someone is going to say, ‘You voted against religious freedom; you voted against the constitution.’”

Lamb thought similarly.  

“I’m not against freedom of religion,” he said. “I think all of our council supports it. I think everyone in the city supports it. I just feel like we’re creating a holiday on the 16th of each year. How do we celebrate that? Is that the appropriate thing for the city to do?” 

Resident Grant Howarth brought the idea to Whitelock and has worked with many religious entities, vying for peace and cooperation. 

“We have to work with each other,” Howard said. “There has been violence, destruction of property and even killings over faith. This is a way to celebrate the differences that we have, celebrate that we do have freedom of religion in our country. We need reminders of that. We need to encourage and take opportunities to remind others to look at others as we are all brothers and sisters, not to fight as enemies just because of something different.”