ERIC Number: ED310042
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1988-Jun-25
Reference Count: N/A
The Williamsburg Charter: A National Celebration and Reaffirmation of the First Amendment Religious Liberty Clauses.
Williamsburg Charter Foundation, Washington, DC.
The religious liberty clauses of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States are the most important political decision for religious liberty and public justice in history. Two hundred years after their enactment, they stand out boldly in a century darkened by state repression and sectarian conflict. The controversy now surrounding the clauses is a reminder that their advocacy and defense are tasks for each succeeding generation. While acknowledging their deep and continuing differences over religious beliefs, political policies, and constitutional interpretations, the signers of this charter agree that the following principles are in the shared interest of all U.S. citizens: (1) Religious liberty is a precious, fundamental, and inalienable right founded on the inviolable dignity of the person and undergirding all other rights and freedoms secured by the Bill of Rights. (2) The two religious liberty clauses address distinct concerns, but serve the same end, freedom of conscience for citizens of all faiths or none. (3) The 'no establishment' clause separates church from state but not religion from public life. (4) The 'free exercise' clause guarantees the right to reach, hold, exercise, or change beliefs freely. (5) While conflict and debate are vital to democracy, how citizens debate is more critical than what they debate. (6) Citizens must develop, out of their differences, a common vision for the common good. (7) Each person and group must guard for others those rights they wish guarded for themselves. These principles require a fresh consideration in order to sustain a free people that would remain free. (JB)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Williamsburg Charter Foundation, Washington, DC.
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: Bill of Rights; First Amendment