By Michael Feldberg, Executive Director, George Washington Institute for Religious Freedom
Courtesy: George Washington Institute for Religious Freedom. Copyright © 2012
Published April 1, 2012
“To Bigotry No Sanction, To Persecution No Assistance”
At Passover, Jews retell the story of their liberation from bondage under the ancient Egyptian Pharaoh. Today, for American Jews it is easy to take religious freedom for granted. We learn in school that the first colonists came to America for religious freedom, and that America was founded to defend that principle. But for most of the colonists, freedom was intended only for those who believed in one or another mainstream Protestant form of worship. Jews, Baptists, Quakers and Catholics often were not allowed to worship in public or hold elected office. On occasion, members of religious minorities were banished, whipped or even hanged for expressing their beliefs.