George Washington Institute for Religious Freedom

Jews in America: “To Bigotry No Sanction; to Persecution No Assistance”

Courtesy: Jewish Virtual Library

On August 17, 1790, Moses Seixas, the warden of Congregation Kahal Kadosh Yeshuat Israel, better known as the Hebrew Congregation of Newport, Rhode Island, penned an epistle to George Washington, welcoming the newly elected first president of the United States on his visit to that city. Newport had suffered greatly during the Revolutionary War. Invaded and occupied by the British and blockaded by the American navy, hundreds of residents fled, and many of those who remained were Tories. After the British defeat, the Tories fled in turn. Newport’s nineteenth-century economy never recovered from these interruptions and dislocations.

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The Priority of Religious Liberty

By Andrew J. Ratelle
Courtesy: The Distributist Review. Copyright © 2013
Published December 15, 2012

“And there shall be none to make him afraid.”

These days, the words of the prophet Micah would be an odd fit in a presidential address. With a large segment of society standing by with their slings and arrows of “establishment clause” and “separation of church and state” at the ready lest any politician or statesman appear too attached to his religious convictions, lines from the Bible can be difficult to get by within a setting apart from the pulpit on a Sunday morning.

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An Additional Reading for Passover

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.

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