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Office of Governor Pete Ricketts

Gov. Ricketts Proclaims “Religious Freedom Day”

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Taylor Gage, 402-471-1970

Justin Pinkerman, 402-471-1967


Media Release:

Gov. Ricketts Proclaims “Religious Freedom Day”


Pastor William Femi Awodele (podium) and Gov. Ricketts (in back of podium)  at this morning’s press conference.


Pastor William Femi Awodele (podium) and Gov. Ricketts (in back of podium)

at this morning’s press conference.


Video from today’s press briefing is available by clicking here.


LINCOLN – Today, Governor Pete Ricketts proclaimed January 16, 2021 as “Religious Freedom Day” in Nebraska.  The Governor noted the central place of religious freedom in both the U.S. Constitution and the State of Nebraska Constitution.  Article I-4 of the Nebraska Constitution recognizes that “All persons have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences.” 


Sister Renée Mirkes, PhD, gave remarks on the importance of respecting religious freedom in civil society.  Sister Mirkes directs the ethics division of the Saint Paul VI Institute in Omaha.  Pastor William Femi Awodele, Executive Director of Christian Couples Fellowship International, shared his insights on the uniqueness of the U.S. Constitution and its guarantee of religious freedom.


This morning, Gov. Ricketts also announced that he has issued an executive order to extend the waiver exempting public meetings from the requirement to conduct in-person meetings.  The exemption will last through April 30, 2021.  The executive order is available by clicking here.


Gov. Ricketts: Religious Freedom

  • Religious freedom is the first freedom listed in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.  That’s no accident.  Religious freedom is the cornerstone of a free society. 
  • The Founders of the U.S. recognized the importance of religion to the health of our Republic.  They also knew that religion flourishes best when practiced without coercion. 
  • Throughout the pandemic, we’ve worked to protect religious freedom.
  • We’ve seen other states that have treated houses of worship unfairly, keeping them shut.
  • While many communities took extra precautions, the State never forced houses of worship to close in Nebraska.
  • Churches and faith communities across the state are vital to helping keep people connected.
  • I want to thank people of every faith who have been working to creatively keep their community connected during this difficult time.
  • While we enjoy great freedoms here in Nebraska, millions suffer persecution around the world.
    • The Chinese Communist Party persecutes Uighur Muslims, placing them in concentration camps, while spinning this as a social good on Twitter.
    • North Korea has placed Christians in labor camps and tortures them.
    • Pakistan is forcing religious minorities to convert to Islam.
  • Religious freedom cannot be taken for granted, even here in America.
  • We must vigilantly support religious liberties—both at home and abroad—against those who would encroach upon them.


Sister Mirkes: Religious Freedom

  • On behalf of pro-life healthcare providers and their patients, I want to thank Governor Ricketts for annually dedicating a day to celebrate and ponder the First Amendment civil right of religious freedom.
  • This day is the perfect occasion to engage the minds and hearts of those involved in healthcare administration and political life to work together in the state of Nebraska to strengthen and expand legislative protections for the right of conscientious objection in healthcare.
  • Pro-life religious patients have a right to access women’s healthcare that conforms to the light of their well-informed conscience.


William Femi Awodele: Religious Freedom

  • Over 28 years ago I immigrated to the United States.  About 25 years ago, I became a citizen, and 20 years ago I heeded a call to full-time ministry.
  • That journey changed my view of the intersection of faith and governance.
  • As I started to counsel people in ministry and speak at conferences, I realized that what made America unique is its document of governance—the Constitution.
  • We’re blessed to live in a state and a country where our religious freedom to worship God is respected, and we’ve created a day dedicated to it.
  • Our founding documents, both as a country and state, proclaim gratitude to God and our right to worship.
  • As President John Adams said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people.  It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
  • The government can help proclaim the importance of our freedoms and write policies that enhance those freedoms.
  • Our nation is going through a dark season right now with regard to religious freedom.  I have been banned twice on social media now.  The importance of dedicating this day is vital.


Video of today’s briefing can be found by clicking here.