A new center dedicated to religious freedom opened in Richmond in a ceremony on Friday.
Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe and Mayor Dwight Jones were both on hand to get a first look.
"I refer to this as Virginia's gift to the world, because it was the first enactment of religious freedom -- meaning individuals could practice any faith they want to or none," explained First Freedom Center CEO Randy Wyckoff. "Also, equally it said the state could not interfere with their faith and that became the model for the bill of rights and the model for 50 other constitutions around the world."
The statute was the brain child of Thomas Jefferson and was eventually signed by James Madison. A statue of both men sits in the freedom center.
"In this country we talk our differences out through the legal system. in other parts of the world, they take their religious differences into the streets and do battle," said Wyckoff.
The First Freedom Center is nestled in the heart of Shockoe at 14th and Cary streets. On January 16, 1786 the General Assembly adopted the statute for religious freedom.
The center is free and open to the public. It's open 6 days a week from 8 am until 5 pm