The Washington Times - January 16, 2013, 10:13AM

On the same day he is proposing to place restrictions on the Second Amendment right to bear arms, President Obama issued a proclamation celebrating the First Amendment by declaring Wednesday as Religious Freedom Day.

“Because of the protections guaranteed by our Constitution, each of us has the right to practice our faith openly and as we choose,” Mr. Obama said. “Today, we also remember that religious liberty is not just an American right; it is a universal human right to be protected here at home and across the globe. This freedom is an essential part of human dignity, and without it our world cannot know lasting peace.”

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Mr. Obama is unveiling a package of gun-control measures Wednesday in response to the mass shooting at a school in Connecticut last month that killed 20 children and six adults. Critics are accusing him of trampling on the Second Amendment’s guarantee of the right to keep and bear arms.

The president said Religious Freedom Day highlights the nation’s multicultural heritage.

“As a free country, our story has been shaped by every language and enriched by every culture,” he said. “We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, Sikhs and non-believers. As we observe Religious Freedom Day, let us remember the legacy of faith and independence we have inherited, and let us honor it by forever upholding our right to exercise our beliefs free from prejudice or persecution.”