RFI President Eric Patterson: The Treasure of Religious Freedom

October 27, 2023

Writing for WORLD Opinions on this International Religious Freedom Day, RFI President Eric Patterson commemorates the 25th anniversary of Congress passing the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA). RFI marked this anniversary with an event on Capitol Hill earlier this month, an occasion that was also dedicated to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, enacted 30 years ago. Patterson writes:

IRFA is a crown jewel in a set of international commitments—starting with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 75 years ago—which intersect with America’s founding ethos of religious freedom for all. It is important that we recommit to the values of both of these streams of thinking—the values of the UDHR and IRFA as well as the historical fact that America’s national identity is rooted in the quest for religious liberty.

America has religious freedom DNA. We see this as early as the Pilgrims’ flight to the New World in 1620. Their Mayflower Compact declared that they would operate under the laws of God but there was to be no compulsion in matters of religion for those outside their tradition.

Over the years the colonies and early America had to struggle to achieve widespread religious liberty, but in places such as Pennsylvania, a conviction developed that religious dissent and religious pluralism would not undermine the rule of law. Indeed, religious liberty was seen as a strength of American society, as religious people in their civil and religious organizations sought to do good for their fellow men.

Read the full article: “The Treasure of Religious Freedom.