Effective religious and civic leadership in the United States requires a thorough understanding of the First Amendment principles that govern the relationship of religion and government, define protections for the free exercise of religion, and provide the civic framework for living among people of all religions and none.
Unfortunately, many leaders receive little or no civic education about the history and significance of the religious liberty clauses of the First Amendment. As a result, many Americans are misled about the constitutional role of religion in public life, confused about the meaning of church-state separation, and uncertain about the limits of the free exercise of religion.
Having the ability to facilitate dialogue is a key leadership skill for the 21st century. As sharp ideological divisions continue to polarize our communities, we need leaders who have the skills to engage people and communities who hold a variety of legal, ideological, religious and nonreligious perspectives.
By applying this constitutional framework, leaders will be able to forge a shared understanding of the place of religion in public life and work together to sustain America’s bold experiment in living with our deepest differences. The Religious Freedom Center of the Freedom Forum Institute is committed to promoting dialogue and understanding among people of all religions and none.
Programming descriptions are generated by participants and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of SXSW.