“Founding Religious Freedom,” A Panel Discussion

Religious freedom is a core American value. But the Religious Right has distorted the meaning of religious freedom, embracing a false historical narrative that favors the beliefs of some over the rights of all.

Politicians on the Religious Right often claim that America’s foundational documents were meant to reflect “Christian values.” By emphasizing the personally held beliefs of the founding fathers, these politicians claim that the founders always intended for Christian belief to be part of governing and American society generally.

At a time when Christian Nationalism is becoming increasingly influential in American politics, it is more important than ever we embrace an accurate and nuanced understanding of the history of religious freedom.

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On December 14, 2021, Steve Waldman, president and co-founder of Report for America, Corey D.B. Walker, inaugural director of African American studies at Wake Forest University, and Kristen Carpenter, director of the American Indian Law Program at the University of Colorado spoke with Rabbi Jack Moline, president of Interfaith Alliance about how the founders understood religious freedom, how religious freedom has evolved over time, and how an accurate understanding of our history can better protect all people under the First Amendment.