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Why Our Family Faith Matters

April 12, 2018

The 5th annual Iowa Religious Freedom Day brought families together to share their insights about why having a family faith matters.  Despite coming from different faith backgrounds, all agreed that having a faith allowed them to teach values, instill virtues in their children, and find balance and comfort in difficult times.  Attendees expressed appreciation for the diverse perspectives that strengthened their own gratitude for religious freedom and a diverse religious landscape. 

Governor Reynolds Signs Religious Freedom Day Proclamation

February 14, 2018

Surrounded by faith leaders and college students, Governor Kim Reynolds signed a proclamation declaring April 13 as Iowa Religious Freedom Day. The proclamation signing was followed by a brief program for the college students about the need for and value of religious freedom. Some took advantage of being in the Capitol to meet their legislators, while others networked with other faith groups interested in the topic. 

Fourth Annual Iowa Religious Freedom Day Celebration

April 13, 2017

Scores of individuals met in the State Capitol Rotunda to celebrate Iowa Religious Freedom Day on Thursday, April 13, 2017. A short program opened with students from Dowling High School singing the national anthem. Bishop Richard E. Pates, of the Des Moines Diocese, opened the program with remarks on the necessity to protect religious freedom for all faiths, especially the marginalized ones.  Dr. Timothy Knepper, Drake University professor of religion and philosophy, explained the evolution of a project that eventually culminated in a book entitled A Spectrum of Faith: Religions of the World in America's Heartland. He then introduced a few of the many students who worked on the two-year project to explore religious traditions in the Des Moines metro area. These students answered questions from a moderator about their experience, their view of religious freedom, and their advice to others about how to protect religious liberty. Concluding remarks were made by local attorney Jason Giles about his experience with and support for religious freedom in Iowa. 

Third Annual Iowa Religious Freedom Day Celebration

April 13, 2016

The 2016 Celebration began with a proclamation signing ceremony on April 13th and concluded with a public event in the Rotunda on April 20th. Some 200 people gathered to hear speakers from different faith backgrounds talk about the importance of religious freedom in Iowa for all people, regardless of background. Speakers included Most Rev. Richard E. Pates, Bishop of the Des Moines Catholic Diocese; State Representative Dan Kelley; Dr. Rizwan Shaw, pediatrician; Dr. Jeffrey Campbell; and State Senator Jake Chapman. Students from Dowling High School performed the national anthem. Attendees enjoyed a light lunch before and during the short program. The purpose of the event was to celebrate religious diversity in a pluralistic society. 

Second Annual Iowa Religious Freedom Day Celebration

April 13, 2015

Around 100 people attended the 2015 Religious Freedom Day Celebration on April 13, 2015, to listen to state senators Jake Chapman (R-Adel) and Jeff Danielson (D-Cedar Falls) confirm their personal support for religious freedom and the importance of open dialogue about what it means to protect that freedom. Baljit Singh, representing the Sikh community; Dr. Sarai Rice of the  Des Moines Area Religious Council; and Eric Andersen of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints also shared their insights.  Baljit was accompanied by colleagues who performed a traditional Sikh melody for the audience. 

First Annual Iowa Religious Freedom Day Celebration

January 16, 2014

A dozen faith leaders met in January 2014 to discuss religious freedom, witness Governor Branstad proclaim the state's first religious freedom day, and take a tour of the state capitol. Dr. Khimanand Upreti of the Iowa Hindu Temple recited a prayer for world peace in a senate chamber office during the tour. Their host was state Senator Jake Chapman. Dr. Sarai Rice of the Des Moines Area Religious Council acquainted other guests with the humanitarian work of her organization, all of which is supported by different faiths working together for the common good. Father Jim Secora of St. Cecilia's Church in Ames expressed his feelings that religious liberty is not just a Roman Catholic or even just a Christian issue,  but that “this is a common liberty that is shared by all people of is a fundamental right that needs to be guarded.” Gary Pence, Marlan Hansen, and Jared Danielson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints presented the governor with a print depicting George Washington in prayer during the Revolutionary War. 

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