THE MEANING AND VALUE
OF RELIGIOUS FREEDOM
EQUALITY IN AMERICA
Statement of the
National Committee for Religious Freedom
The National Committee for Religious Freedom stands with the American Founders in defending religious freedom equally for all Americans and all their religious communities.
The equal right of religious freedom, or “free exercise” of religion, has served our nation well for over two centuries. It has encouraged virtue and neighborliness among our citizens, increased our other freedoms by limiting the power of government, and supported the other fundamental rights enumerated in our Constitution, including the rights of free speech, press, assembly, and redress of grievances.
Religious freedom equality has brought millions of people to our shores seeking the right to worship and to exercise their religion as equal citizens in this great land.
Religious freedom equality has produced the most dynamic, compassionate faith-based civil society in history. It has yielded tens of thousands of religious schools and hospitals, homes for the aged and dying, services for immigrants to our nation, foster care for orphaned or abandoned children, soup kitchens and care for the homeless, and hope for men and women in prison. Our faith-based civil society has encouraged kindness and community in America and has historically made our politics more civil.
Religious efforts have limited the power and reach of government, in part because of the huge numbers of services religious communities have provided, services that otherwise might be provided by government, and in part because most religious citizens and their communities are faithful to a transcendent authority greater than government.
Our Founders reflected this understanding when they penned the radical religious truth claim of our Declaration of Independence, namely that each of us is equal because we are each created by a benevolent God. Grounded in this radical moral equality, each of us possesses certain “inalienable” rights.
These rights are not the gift of government. They are the gift of God. Any just government – especially the revolutionary Republic the Founders were launching at the risk of their lives — must nourish and protect inalienable rights, including the inalienable right of religious freedom.
With the Founders, we believe in religious freedom equality because we believe it is necessary and good – for all human beings, all religious traditions, and all societies on this earth.