December 29, 2020

Manisha Sunil, West End Strategy Team; Phone: 202-417-0171

Rabbi Jack Moline: Federal Commemoration of Thomas Becket’s Martyrdom “deeply concerning” to Religious Freedom Advocates

WASHINGTON — On Monday, President Trump issued an executive order commemorating the martyrdom of Saint Thomas Becket and urging its observance in schools and churches. In response, Rabbi Jack Moline, president of Interfaith Alliance, released the following statement:

The proclamation issued by President Trump commemorating the martyrdom of Saint Thomas Becket should be deeply concerning to any American who holds dear the religious freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment. It is yet another example of this administration tarnishing the basic tenets of our democracy by conflating American identity with Christian identity.

Religious freedom in the United States does not recognize the predominance of belief over law; indeed, it is the law that protects personal belief, not the other way around. While Thomas Becket was indeed a renown historical figure, to claim religious freedom in America was ‘bought with the blood of martyrs’ is an attempt to paint American history as Christian history. There are no parallels between the United States, founded on the principles of equality and human rights, and the claims of monarchs, who were presumed to be figures of religious authority.

Of course, individual Americans and their faith communities may celebrate their personal heroes – religious or otherwise – including Saint Thomas Becket. But when the commemoration of religious martyrdom comes at the direction of the president, and its observance is encouraged within our public schools, there is clear cause for concern.

If you are interested in speaking further with Rabbi Moline, please contact Manisha Sunil at (202) 417-0171 or


Interfaith Alliance celebrates religious freedom by championing individual rights, promoting policies that protect both religion and democracy, and uniting diverse voices to challenge extremism. Founded in 1994, Interfaith Alliance brings together members from 75 faith traditions as well as those without a faith tradition to protect faith and freedom. For more information visit