Religious Liberty: An American Experiment
From Toleration to Liberty: George Washington and the Hebrew Congregation in Newport, Rhode Island
Two 50-minute class periods
In this lesson, students will gain an understanding of religious liberty from the colonial period to the Founding era. They will assess legal and historical documents of toleration and/or liberty, analyze George Washington’s 1790 Letter to the Hebrew Congregation in Newport, Rhode Island and gain an appreciation of Washington’s letter as an example of the shift from religious toleration to religious liberty.
Freedom of Religion
The freedom to exercise one's own religious beliefs without interference from the government is essential to the existence of a free society.
Inalienable / Natural Rights
Freedoms which belong to us by nature and can only be justly taken away through due process.
Except where authorized by citizens through the Constitution, the government does not have the authority to limit freedom.