Americans disagree on many matters of theology, and on matters of politics as well, but we find common ground in our shared belief that no individual or community in our nation should live in fear because of their religious identity.  This country was founded upon the value of religious freedom: that the government has a limited role in matters of religion and people should be free to express their religious commitments, so long as they do not unduly infringe upon the rights of others. We have seen in the past year particularly atrocious violations of human dignity worldwide committed in the name of religion in Iraq and Syria, the Central African Republic, and Myanmar, to name but a few. And we have seen violence perpetrated against persons and communities because of their religious identities in the United States as well, including the murders of three young American Muslims in Chapel Hill, NC, the armed protests of mosques, the burning of black churches, and the high number of hate crimes committed against Jews, Muslims, and other American religious minorities.  

In regard to religion, mutual toleration in the different professions thereof is what all good and candid minds in all ages have ever practiced, and both by precept and example inculcated on mankind.
— Samuel Adams, The Rights of the Colonists (1771)
We have no right to prejudice another in his civil enjoyments because he is of another church.
— Thomas Jefferson: Notes on Religion, 1776. Papers 1:546

Our commitment to religious freedom helps us promote the best of what religious traditions offer to the world community.  Thus, to advance religious freedom as a universal human good, we must look not only across the ocean, but first and foremost in our own backyards.  By standing together for the values of religious inclusion and liberty, we combine our voices with the many across the globe calling for mutual respect and human dignity.  Our nation, and the citizens thereof, have an important role to play in helping to support and advance calls for religious freedom worldwide, and we must begin by standing strongly by those values here at home. 

To this end, a number of religious leaders and denominations in the U.S., along with civil society organizations, have come together to enjoin our public officials to sign a Religious Freedom Pledge, recommitting themselves to stand proudly for religious freedom and against bigotry, suspicion, discrimination, harassment and violence based on religion here at home, as well as to stand for the free expression and exercise of religion.  This will not only help us to live up to our own American ideals; it will also send a clear message to the world about our deep commitment as Americans to religious freedom. 

We have abundant reason to rejoice that in this Land the light of truth and reason has triumphed over the power of bigotry and superstition… In this enlightened Age and in this Land of equal liberty it is our boast, that a man’s religious tenets will not forfeit the protection of the Laws, nor deprive him of the right of attaining and holding the highest Offices that are known in the United States.
— George Washington, letter to the members of the New Church in Baltimore, January 27