USA Today: Evangelical, Muslim, Jewish. It’s time we all renew our commitment to religious freedom.
Religious freedom can be a divisive issue, but it’s important. My group is renewing our commitment to the First Amendment, by signing this charter.
In the turbulent 1960s, John Courtney Murray famously reminded Americans that the Constitution begins with “we the, people,” not “we, the tribe.”
Murray, a Jesuit priest, wasn’t papering over differences that are often deep and abiding. Each of us has our tribe — Catholic, Hindu, Humanist, Jewish, Muslim, Protestant or one of a hundred others in the pluralistic society we all call home. Differences matter.
Instead, Murray was calling on Americans to recognize what we share across our religious and philosophical divides, especially the core principles of religious liberty in the First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
In just 16 words, our framers created an arrangement in religious freedom that has made today’s pluralism possible. More than any other provision of the Constitution, the religious liberty clauses are the “unum” in “e pluribus unum” — out of many, one.
It’s time to renew our support of First Amendment
In this divided, dangerous moment in our history, it is time to renew our support for the framework of liberty provided by the First Amendment. That’s why on Thursday, American leaders from many different faiths and beliefs will sign the American Charter of Freedom of Religion and Conscience, a reaffirmation of religious liberty in our time.