Religious Liberty’s Unique Role in Democracy: Encouraging Respect for People We Disagree With
Protection of religious liberty plays a unique role in our democracy, Harvard Law Dean Martha Minow suggests, because it requires people to respect one another even when they sharply disagree.
Dean Minow was interviewed at New York University on January 31, 2011, during our symposium “Give Bigotry No Sanction: Exploring Religious Freedom and Democracy."
"The language that George Washington uses—that our country gives no refuge to bigotry—is as resonant now then it was then, because our country is more diverse then ever," Dean Minow reflects.
Looking at the broader role of religious pluralism in our country, she points to the role that this historical lesson can play in teaching about democracy:
At this moment in this country, there are potentially sharp divides around such basic questions as “Who’s a member of this society? What is a citizen?" To be able to look at the understanding of the first president about how we treat one another is a terrific resource.
Religious freedom could be understood as an example of liberty generally. It could also be understood really as an exemplar of what equality means, because religious freedom requires a recognition that people who sharply disagree are nonetheless deserving of the same equality of respect.
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About This Project
Welcome to Give Bigotry No Sanction: The George Washington Letter Project: Exploring Religious Freedom and Democracy