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Religious Freedom and Equal Rights in America: From the Founders to the 21st Century   

Tension between belief in a divine order and the inherent equality of all has existed since the Pilgrims fled religious persecution by the Church of England to the New World. Reliance on God is embedded in the Declaration of Independence the U. S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights, asserted on our money and, since 1954, recited as part of the Pledge of Allegiance. “Separation of church and state” and belief that “all men are created equal” also are integral to America’s foundational documents. This series of discussions will examine the conundrum of balancing freedom of religious expression and freedom from discrimination in a democracy through the lenses of history, law, religion, and ethics from colonial times to the present.