John Sexton On Religion and Democracy, Part 1: A Rebuke to Intolerance
John Sexton, President of New York University since 2001, Benjamin Butler Professor of Law, and Dean Emeritus of NYU Law School, speaks at Facing History's Give Bigotry No Sanction: Exploring Religious Freedom and Democracy event in New York City on January 31, 2011.
In the first part of his interview with Facing History, John Sexton talks about the broad implications that Washington's message has for us today, if we apply that message to our fundamental struggles with fear of the unfamiliar.
Bigotry is distancing oneself from the new, the different, whether it be a person, a culture, or an idea . . . The Washington Letter is a tremendous rebuke to forces around the world that would cause us to stop using our minds, and use only our capacity to hate.
Sexton also discusses the unique impact of George Washington as the speaker of this message of equality. It's Jefferson or Madison, Sexton says, whom people think of when separation of church and state is discussed--yet it's Washington who commands the most reverence in our society:
To have such a strong condemnation of bigotry--and when you think about it, not just religious bigotry, but bigotry in *any* domain, and to have that come from Washington, makes this a very very fruitful source.
Watch part two.
About This Project
Welcome to Give Bigotry No Sanction: The George Washington Letter Project: Exploring Religious Freedom and Democracy