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After decade in storage, Washington letter on religious freedom will go public
George Washington's letter will go on display after being out of public view for almost a decade.
May 23rd, 2012
02:18 PM ET

After decade in storage, Washington letter on religious freedom will go public

By Alex Zuckerman, CNN

Washington (CNN) – After sitting in storage for nearly a decade, George Washington’s signature statement on religious liberty will go on display this summer in the city where freedom of religion was enshrined in the Constitution: Philadelphia.

America’s first president wrote the letter to a Jewish congregation in Newport, Rhode Island, in 1790, assuring American Jews that their freedom of religion would be protected. The document will go on display this summer for the first time since 2002 in an exhibition at Philadelphia’s National Museum of American Jewish History.

For nine years, the letter has been kept out of public view, in storage at a sterile Maryland office park a few hundred feet from FedEx Field, where the Washington Redskins play. CNN took an inside look at the document in September.

But the Morris Morgenstern Foundation, which owns the letter, has agreed to put the historic document on public display, officials at the National Museum of American Jewish History said.

“Our institution as well as others have been trying to have access to (this) for a long time,” said museum director and CEO Ivy Barsky. “We feel fortunate that the Morgenstern Foundation thought us worthy.”

The loan agreement between the museum and the foundation is unusual. The museum will have the letter for three years but will be allowed to show it for just three months per year. The letter will be kept in a dark storage area for preservation for the other nine months.

An excerpt of the letter showing George Washington's signature.

The document will be accompanied by an exhibit called “To Bigotry No Sanction: George Washington and Religious Freedom,” which will run June 29 to September 30. Barsky said the exhibit came together only after the museum was certain it could showcase Washington’s letter.

Before going into storage in 2002, the letter was on display at the Klutznick Museum at B’nai B’rith International Headquarters in Washington. It was on display there for 45 years before the organization downsized, closing its museum. The letter went into storage.

After that,  many people did not realize where the letter had gone, according to Jane Eisner, editor of  Forward, a Jewish newspaper. Eisner dedicated a series of editorials over the last year to lobbying for public display of the letter. She also sent a reporter, Paul Berger, to research the history of the letter.

“This is one of those rare moments as a journalist where you can see the fruits of your labor,” Eisner said. “All we had was all Washington had, which was words. We just have our words and arguments that we try to put out in the public sphere as best we could.”

Morris Morgenstern, center, showed a number of notable people his prized letter, including then-Sen. John F. Kennedy.

The letter is considered to be Washington’s key public statement on religious freedom. Eisner and Barsky say that the document signaled a welcoming of all people to America in pursuit of freedom.

“May the father of all mercies scatter light, and not darkness, upon our paths,” the letter reads, “and make us all in our several vocations useful here, and in His own due time and way everlastingly happy.”

The letter addressed the congregation’s fears that Jews could face discrimination in the new nation. “The letter starts off to the Hebrew congregation of Newport, Rhode Island,” said Mordechai Eskovitz, rabbi of the Touro Synagogue in Newport. “It was meant for the congregation. It is addressed to the congregation.”

The Touro Synagogue, in Newport, Rhode Island, where Washington sent his letter.

The Library of Congress had asked to display the letter during a 2004 exhibit on the 350th anniversary of Jewish life in America. When the loan was not completed, many historians speculated that no one would be able to meet the standards of the Morgenstern Foundation for exhibiting the letter.

“Usually people would die just to be invited to display their property,” said Jonathan Sarna, professor at Brandeis University and a pre-eminent scholar on Jewish-American history. “If the Library of Congress wanted something of mine, they would have it the next day with insured mail.”

Berger, the Forward reporter, says the letter’s placement at another Jewish museum could mean the Morgenstern family would like to see the letter stay in a Jewish facility. “Nobody knows why the family chose the museum in Philadelphia over the Library of Congress,” he said.

The Morgenstern Foundation did not respond to requests for comment.

It is unclear where the document will go after its three-year loan at the Museum of American Jewish History.

- CNN’s Dan Merica contributed to this report.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: History • Judaism

soundoff (869 Responses)
  1. GolfPro

    I asked the Prince of Peace into my Spirit in 1970. Since that time He has given me peace beyond understanding, joy unspeakable and full of glory...His glory. I was age 33 when it happened. The first thought I had when I realized how real this is was this: "I wish I had done this when I was 3 years of age!"

    May 24, 2012 at 6:35 pm |
    • Abraham

      33 years of awful, awful rational thought. Good thing you got away from that!

      May 24, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
    • CBKidder

      If by prince of peace you mean your head, and by spirit you mean your backside, then I believe you.

      May 24, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
    • brother walt gee

      I was 33 also. It simply amazes me reading some of these quirky posts claiming all sorts of rules and regulations: But the one great commandment Yehua spoke of in many places from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22: That Thou Shalt Love The Lord Thy God with all your mind, all your heart and all your strength. The Second is like the first; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself and shall do him no harm.
      The word the Translators inserted for naon is Temple. That is rather incorrect. Naon refers to the Sanctuary or what is known as the Holy of Holies which is the home of The Holy Spirit of El Shaddai Himself. In essence we believers have the Ark of The Covenant, The Holy Spirit and the Most Holy Place now within our hearts. Which may be rather cheeky to write here, but none the less true. Because of God's incredible love we have been saved by His unmerited favor and not of any good deeds we have done lest anyone boast. All I did was repnt and ask Jesus into my heart.
      Blessed be the Living God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob who filled me with His love.

      June 3, 2012 at 11:13 pm |
  2. Oneforall777

    George Washington was a Politician first of all, he is sending this letter to a Jewish congregation. He is hardly going to his own personal beliefs here is he? George Washington was a Christian, the Country was founded on Christian principles and this letter to a Jewish congregation isn't going to change that, as much as CNN would like to stir the pot by stating in it's opening sentence of this article "his signature statement on religious liberty". Of course. Most of the people in the United States at that time were there to get away from religious persecution. That's why they came to America. But most were Christians, that's all I'm saying. Yes there must be separation of Church and State, however, the religous freedom thing has gone too far. It was a Christian nation, it's founding fathers were Christian, it needs to have Christian values. George Washington was being diplomatic., he was being a Politician, that does not negate the fact that HE was a Christian and had Christian values.

    May 24, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
    • Patty

      The prominent founding fathers were deists, not christians. Jeez you people need to do some research.

      May 24, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
    • chicago7

      What you're saying, then, is that it's okay for us to have religious freedom as long as we are free to practice YOUR religion? People who want to make their personal religious views a matter of law for everyone else to follow are dangerous to the well-being of this country, and to the ideal of religious freedom it was founded upon.

      May 24, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
    • TrueBlue42

      Read up on Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, then get back to me.

      May 24, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
    • Sharp

      So then your insinuation is that Washington was really anti-Semitic like you obviously are. You aren't even a good Christian. Where is your respect for the Savior's tolerance & loving kindness? I guess they will have none of that there in the Mississippi Trailer Parks.

      May 24, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
    • Tired of Christian Lies

      Oneforeall777 America has never been a christian nation and will never be a christian nation. America was founded on the ideal that everyone can practice his or her own religion without religious persecution. The word God was not added to Currency until 1957 and in the Pledge of Allegiance untill 1948.

      May 24, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
    • Snoozie

      So sad that you don't see how only by granting others THEIR religious freedom, is your own safeguarded.

      May 24, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
    • Keith

      People didn’t come to America to escape religious persecution. They came here because they were weirdoes that couldn't get along with their neighbors. I had ancestors on the Mayflower; don't try to tell me that crap. They were bothering other people trying to push their beliefs off on other people and they didn't like it. They ran to Amsterdam to hide. There were a bunch of merchants and crafts men that wanted to start a colony in America, many of them had been part of the Jamestown failure. The Pilgrims got to go because some of the Dutch Bankers were tired of them bothering people so they added enough money to get rid of them. The crafts men and Colonist paid for the voyage not the worthless pilgrims.

      May 24, 2012 at 7:52 pm |
    • want2believe

      "It was a Christian nation, it's founding fathers were Christian, it needs to have Christian values."

      Treaty of Tripoli – ratified by President John Adams after UNANIMOUS Senate approval.

      "As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion,—as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen [Muslims],—and as the said States never entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mahometan [Muslim] nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries."

      Yes the majority of founding fathers may have been Christian, but they put their country and their fellow citizens before themselves.

      May 24, 2012 at 9:08 pm |
    • Retired Firefighter

      I think you should google your history facts. Although, our founding fathers were Christian for the most part, by doctrine they were diests. The formation of our country was based on a diest theory. Therefore, the idea of seperation of church and state.

      May 29, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
  3. Nina

    As Jean Shepard so eloquently stated: In God we trust, all others pay cash.

    May 24, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
  4. groinksan

    I am myself an atheist. I have been all my life. However, I do value the idea that America was founded on the idea that there is a spiritual being that helps guide people in the right direction. I don't believe in God, but I also believe that human beings need spiritualization. This is why I condone, and even celebrate myself events like Christmas, Easter, follow the 10 commandments, etc. In the news today, I see the idiots at these Occupy movements, the radical anti-NATO people – all of these people really do need God in their lives.

    May 24, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
    • Kallie

      Well, you're obviously NOT an atheist...

      May 24, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
    • Patty

      You are not a atheist, stop lying to try to prove a point. The first three commmandments are about not holding any gods before the god of moses, and not taking gods name in vain and something bla bla, sabbath is holy. Quoting you .. "I do value the idea that America was founded on the idea that there is a spiritual being that helps guide people in the right direction" is not something an atheist would say, knowing that the prominent founding fathers were deists and not theists. If a christian posing an atheist can be called a poe, I'm calling poe on you.

      May 24, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
    • chicago7

      So you're an atheist and no one else but you has the right to believe or not believe what they want without being called idiots or radical? You are really not what you say you are, being neither truly atheist nor supportive of religious freedom except for yourself.

      May 24, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
    • PlagueDoc

      @groinksan Nice try narc.

      May 24, 2012 at 6:35 pm |
    • Tired of Christian Lies

      Actually Patty its called Agnostic.

      May 24, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
    • One one

      "I don't believe in god but believe people need to have a non-existent myth in their lives".

      Perhaps you should think this through a little more.

      May 24, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
    • groinksan

      I'm not the only atheist who thinks like this... S.E. Cupp has the same atheist beliefs, and she even has a degree in Theology. It is only you idiots who think in ying or yang terms.

      May 24, 2012 at 7:44 pm |
  5. Make me think

    Not saying that Athiesists are missing them, but religion teaches that compassion and charity are significant portions of that which is good or leads to goods. In recognizing this is true in most if not all religion, we should recognize that using these specific common beliefs as a basis for a government should not be a bad thing. Compelling one to believe something or to give up believing something has no place in our government.

    As I read through most of these posts, I see a frustration with Christians (or more specifically that which is most commonly called the "Religious Right"). I also see a frustration with those that would force all religious reference from our laws.

    I think our Founding Fathers contemplated it – as can be seen in the letters between Jefferson and Adams. Jefferson commonly referenced religion or religious writings. He considered the power that manipulation of belief can cause in directing people to make decisions. He considered that as humans we should have some mutually agreed to level of respect and reponsibility. In doing this he referenced a "creator" but his letters reveal clearly that he was not speaking of a Christian god specifically. Practically speaking, he was Agnostic. Noththeless he used the reference to demonstrate what he believed to be a truth.

    What I see here is what is typical of our country today. We are focussed on making someone wrong and someone right. We are trying to drive people into a common belief (you either believe in God or go to Hell – if you believe in God, you are stupid) and the result is conflict that seeks to destroy rather than build.

    People – wake up! If you believe or do not believe, that is not the question. The question is are you allowed to believe and is that respected. Free to disagree but not destroy that which others believe.

    I don't like the Mormons that come to my door to mission to me, but i don't shoot them for trespassing either. I ask them nicely to leave and enjoy their day.

    May 24, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
    • pedgies

      I believe you may be speaking of the Jehovah's Witnesses that come to your door. As far as I know Mormons don't normally go door to door.

      May 24, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
    • John

      There are a number of flaws with this argument. First, religion can not claim ownership on charity and morality. In fact, there is a ridiculous amount of evidence which suggest they are responsible for much of what is wrong with the world today. Furthermore, while it saddens me that people choose to be willfully ignorant I do respect their free will to do so. Where I draw the line is how it's forced upon all of us on a daily basis. Religious groups are always the most powerful and influential lobbyists in Washington. Religious zealots also have a staggering majority in the political system and have an effect on policy decisions that are made every day. They rake in billions of dollars every year, pay zero taxes, and also have the added luxury of having that much influence in our government. It's a travesty and makes a complete mockery of what the founding fathers of this country were trying to accomplish. People are free to think what they want, but a consequence to such a privilege should be the inability to serve in such powerful positions where we have no place for their bias

      May 24, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
    • joe

      So do the boy scouts with a lot simpler, more clear and a better message.

      No need to condone a religion that's ignorant, primitive, backwards, phony and wrong just because it has some good aspects.

      May 24, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
    • Sid Airfoil

      "Make me think" said "...but religion teaches that compassion and charity are significant portions of that which is good or leads to goods". I'm delighted the he/she believes in compassion and charity. But, with all due respect, religions are only beneficent to LIKE MINDED people. Christians feel compassion and charity, but only for those who uphold THEIR principles or who repent for violating them. Christians (and members of other religions as well) may WANT to believe themselves to be compassionate, but in fact they condemn (literally) anyone who breaks the rules. It's not much of a feat for someone to feel compassion for someone who fundamentally agrees with them about the big moral issues, but has, through weakness, failed to live according to those principles. But can a Christian act compassionately or charitably towards someone who consciously disagrees with their fundamental principles, violates them willingly, and feels no remorse about doing so?

      I've never met such a Christian. Are there any out there?

      Sid

      May 24, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
    • One one

      Christians deserve as much respect and accommodation as they give to atheists.

      May 24, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
  6. maine liberal

    Gentlemen:

    While I received with much satisfaction your address replete with expressions of esteem, I rejoice in the opportunity of assuring you that I shall always retain grateful remembrance of the cordial welcome I experienced on my visit to Newport from all classes of citizens.

    The reflection on the days of difficulty and danger which are past is rendered the more sweet from a consciousness that they are succeeded by days of uncommon prosperity and security.

    If we have wisdom to make the best use of the advantages with which we are now favored, we cannot fail, under the just administration of a good government, to become a great and happy people.

    The citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy—a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship.

    It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it were the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights, for, happily, the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.

    It would be inconsistent with the frankness of my character not to avow that I am pleased with your favorable opinion of my administration and fervent wishes for my felicity.

    May the children of the stock of Abraham who dwell in this land continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants—while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree and there shall be none to make him afraid.

    May the father of all mercies scatter light, and not darkness, upon our paths, and make us all in our several vocations useful here, and in His own due time and way everlastingly happy.

    G. Washington

    May 24, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
    • wolfpackbob

      Thanks for the reprint. Not many statesmen and women are willing to put life and treasure all on the line for their country.

      May 24, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
    • aamaam

      +10

      May 24, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
    • JM

      Where's a politician like G. Washington when you need him? Never more eloquent, straight forward and succinctly have I read the ideals of our country, that we all simply aim to be happy and wish the same for our neighbor.

      May 24, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
  7. Belief Kills

    I'd like to see all religion become a PRIVATE matter again. Not so long ago in this country religion wasn't discussed outside of the home and the church. These kinds of PERSONAL beliefs have no place in the public sphere. In the public sphere they only cause discord and serve to divide people into warring camps. In other words, grow up and keep that crud to yourselves.

    May 24, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
    • Bill

      nonsense, when John Kennedy ran for president many people said he was un-electable because he was catholic. Do a little reading. This has been around forever.

      May 24, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
    • LinSea

      I don't think that is an accurate statement. I am not that old but remember seeing columns in the local newspapers reporting weekly on the topics of various pastors' sermons and articles on what each church was doing as far as social activities. I remember similar reports on the local TV news. Religion and personal beliefs used to be discussed much, much more openly.

      Talking about religion does not have to cause discord. I have friends of other faiths and no faith and it is completely possible for us to discuss how we believe and listen to and respect each other's points of view. If talking about religion results in discord, it comes from the people who choose to ridicule and attack other people's beliefs. For example, calling someone else's belief system, as you put it, 'crud.'

      May 24, 2012 at 7:06 pm |
    • CBKidder

      Mental illness is a threat to the public. Christianity is delusion because god is not real.

      May 24, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
  8. b

    thought – the founding fathers wanted God in our lives... IF WE WANTED HIM TO BE. It was to be a personal thing; not a state thing. They did NOT want to bring the Church of England over or have the church as THE head of state.

    May 24, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
    • WDinDallas

      No, they wanted religious freedom and did not want the State as the head of the Church. This was also addressed by Thomas Jefferson in the Danbury letters. Read them both!

      May 24, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
  9. The text says:

    To the Hebrew Congregation in Newport Rhode Island.
    Gentlemen,

    While I receive, with much satisfaction, your Address replete with expressions of affection and esteem; I rejoice in the opportunity of assuring you, that I shall always retain a grateful remembrance of the cordial welcome I experienced in my visit to Newport, from all classes of Citizens.

    The reflection on the days of difficulty and danger which are past is rendered the more sweet, from a consciousness that they are succeeded by days of uncommon prosperity and security. If we have wisdom to make the best use of the advantages with which we are now favored, we cannot fail, under the just administration of a good Government, to become a great and happy people.

    The Citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy: a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship. It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people, that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights. For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens, in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.

    It would be inconsistent with the frankness of my character not to avow that I am pleased with your favorable opinion of my Administration, and fervent wishes for my felicity. May the children of the Stock of Abraham, who dwell in this land, continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other Inhabitants; while
    every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and figtree, and there shall be none to make him afraid.

    May the father of all mercies scatter light and not darkness in our paths, and make us all in our several vocations useful here, and in his own due time and way everlastingly happy.

    G. Washington

    May 24, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
    • LinSea

      Thank you for posting that. Do you have a link?

      May 24, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
  10. James Morgan Sr.

    Upon having read the letter, I'm in awe of the elequence of his writing. In my poor estimation, only Jefferson and Lincoln are in his class. He's a man who knew that everything he said, wrote, and did would be a pattern for the future. I'm sure he'd be proud it's lasted over 200 years..

    May 24, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
    • Catholic Clarity

      I agree...almost completely. I would just add that I believe he would be proud that it didn't just last...it was carried forward by others to even more greatness. I just hope we can continue that, not just resting on our laurels and taking our blessings for granted.

      June 2, 2012 at 11:01 pm |
  11. james

    it doesnt matter if the letter was clearly stating a seperation of church and state the birthers the brainwashed the bigots the southern baptist etc etc will not stop until they are allowed to put undesirables behind that electric fence and drop food to them until they die off... just ask that preacher in NC and all the churches who have remained silent. funny they demand all muslims denounce militant islam but militant christianity is just AOK.

    May 24, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • Bill

      your idiocy knows no bounds

      May 24, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • Correction

      That was not a Southern Baptist church. It was independent.

      May 24, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
    • Moe

      Hey james, you and all of your pervert, deviant friends SHOULD be put behind en electric fence - you people are a societal disease. It's really not your fault though, because people can't help being born weak-minded. Regardless, your shekel-hoarding kosher overloads are using you creeps to destroy our once-pure societal morals.

      May 24, 2012 at 6:35 pm |
  12. maine liberal

    "Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's"

    May 24, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
  13. Woody

    Everyone should have the right to believe however they want and practice or not practice our man made religions . Holy books as with any book can only be written by people for people . God can not write because god is immortal and the christian bible was written 300 years after Jesus and changes from time to time when christians get tired of the same stories as with old and new editions . Religion as we know it today is in the neighborhood of 1600 to 2000 years old when people had no idea what a computer,tv,plane or for that matter even understand natural disasters as we do today and those sea monsters only turned out to be fish with big teeth . Funny thing is most people that say they are christian never even read the bible much less know Jesus was born on the continent of Asia at Asia Minor . So We should all be able to believe the way we want without people trying to cram what they believe down our throats . Reality is we live on a living planet where disasters are inevitable as with our own demise and no one ever came back to tell us what really happens when we die !

    May 24, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • Bill

      Ramble much?

      May 24, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      I wonder if Bill has any intelligent point to make or is he just trying to advertise his scorn for others and his BELIEF in the superiority of his beliefs.

      May 24, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • CBKidder

      There is no god. That voice in your head is you thinking. I hope.

      May 24, 2012 at 7:13 pm |
  14. Buffie

    What I would give to see this letter with my own eyes. I am thankful to have been born in the United States and I will cherish my freedom forever. (Also, props to Amy... freedom /from/ religion, yes!)

    May 24, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
  15. Phil Ologus

    It seems including the entire content of the letter into this article would make sense. I'm much more curious to know what all Washington said exactly, than I am about reading snippets from it and comments/opinions about it. Oh well... I'll just 'X' out of CNN and surf over to somewhere else. Ciao!

    May 24, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • Phil Ologus

      I found the letter! Part of it says: It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it were the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights, for, happily, the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.

      Hmmm... how could he say that America "gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance" at a time when slavery was rampant in America?

      May 24, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
    • Catholic Clarity

      I wish we could ask them that. Really. I don't think this diminishes the importance of this letter's freedom of religion and tolerance for the religious beliefs of others...the guarantee of one's safety regardless of one's religion. I too want to read the entire religion. Why is CNN avoiding this. I found a link but it didn't work. Still looking.

      June 2, 2012 at 10:27 pm |
    • Catholic Clarity

      You're right. Easy to find elsewhere. So here's my view of the answer to your valid question:

      "The reflection on the days of difficulty and danger which are past is rendered the more sweet from a consciousness that they are succeeded by days of uncommon prosperity and security."

      Our country was so young. Slavery was such an ingrained and distorted part of society. More days of difficulty and danger came less than a hundred years later...and reflection today should be rendered more sweet from a consciousness that we now have more uncommon prosperity and security from the freedom our country enjoys. Does this mean we've finally got it right? Of course not! I believe George Washington would have found satisfaction in how our country rid itself of that scourge and moved forward to become stronger. If only we can stick to our common values and stop bickering so much...educate our children well and require them to carry this great nation forward instead of only taking from it what they want. We have so much potential!!

      June 2, 2012 at 10:33 pm |
    • Catholic Clarity

      Sorry for all these posts...this is just such an interesting topic to me.

      Listen, if Washington had truly deserved derision for where our country was in its infancy with regards to slavery, I believe Lincoln (and others) would have had negative remarks to say. Instead, I believe it was our commitment to freedom and the heroic loyalty of so many who gave their lives that rid this country of slavery. We should be proud of that. I strongly believe we should never speak disrespectully of George Washington or other early leaders for not having accomplished this sooner. Clearly it was a great challenge...caused a great deal of suffering...and required the blood of so many before us. let's move on and appreciate the sweetness...and find where our courage is required today to continue to propogate the freedom of people.

      June 2, 2012 at 10:37 pm |
    • Hmmmm

      How about propagating the freedom of people by denouncing the Catholic Church's sickening treatment of gays and lesbians?

      June 2, 2012 at 10:43 pm |
    • Catholic Clarity

      (I apologize if there is a duplicate...perhaps the delicate nature/language of my first response caused it to be set aside for review or just plain censored. Just in case, I am rewriting with an attempt to use acceptable and non-inflammatory language. It certainly was not intended.)

      It's probably no surprise that I take issue with your remark. I almost ignored it. I'm hoping, though, that you see the earnestness of my responses and try to listen to a real person within the Church you misunderstand. Then I encourage you to honestly look into it and maybe you can help others come to common ground.

      "Sickening treatment" towards any person is not taught by or practiced by the members of the Catholic Church. There are exceptions where people within the Church are misinformed, but that is not the teaching of the Church and it is wrong to go against this important teaching. I just hope to share that with you with a peaceful goal and kind spirit. The less you judge and the more you try to understand, the more we can make our founding fathers proud of our tolerance. The same goes for me.

      According to the teachings of the Catholic Church (as outlined in its Catechism), the CC understands HS "has taken on a variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained." It may surprise you to hear that the CC does not believe G&L people choose their orientation and for most of them (not all) it is a "trial."

      Yes, the CC does believe HS acts (not G&L people) are "disordered." The chief concern the CC has is that these acts are contrary to natural law and close the SX act to the gift of life. However, most importantly, the CC teaches (and I firmly believe and act accordingly) that G&L MUST "be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity." This is stronger than tolerance. Acceptance. "Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives..." (whether Christian or other faiths).

      We are called to love and respect...and ACCEPT. Any difference of interpretation in a divisive topic like the definition of marriage should not solely build an understanding of (or unfairly judge) the teaching of the CC. The definition of marriage is tied to one of our seven great sacraments. Of course we would consider this something to fight for. We fight for our beliefs as you should fight for yours. More than that, though, we are called to accept and love one another. In our country we are uniquely called to support each person's freedoms. So let's do that. If you have questions, take them to a good priests or deacon. Research on a reliable site. Hold the CC and its people to these standards. Those who are wrong should be admonished and instructed with the correct teachings.

      June 2, 2012 at 11:32 pm |
    • Catholic Clarity

      Dude...if you want to sound off, why is it always against the CC?! What about that Kansas pastor who says the government should kill G&L people! AWFUL! Abominable!! Please educate yourself and see that the truth taught by the CC is much closer than you think to the respect, tolerance, and acceptance that is right. Shaking my head...I cannot believe #1: that man would think, much less speak such terrible murderous thoughts...and #2: that CNN would run his story. C'mon, CNN. Enough of the diviseness. This is weakening our great country!!! These crazy people should be relegated to the echoes of their voices in their own showers...not for others to hear thinking this is what Christians...what Americans believe!

      June 2, 2012 at 11:50 pm |
  16. Xon

    Long live freedom.

    May 24, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
    • Catholic Clarity

      Oh if only I could enjoy your talent at brevity! :o)

      June 2, 2012 at 10:38 pm |
  17. kaligaclark

    Wow, so the teapeople ARE on the WRONG side of this issue!!! Even the founding fathers wanted religion to be a personal issue NOT a government mandate!!! Arizona's brewer should be ASHAMED!!!!!

    May 24, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
    • groinksan

      What the heck are you talking about? You have no idea what the Tea Party is about. The Tea Party, since day 1 has been about government being non-secular. The Tea Party believes that the government is based on judeo christian values, and that the government should continue to value that ideal. Government should be open to all religions, but once again things like the pledge, "in God we trust," etc. are all based on judeo christian values.

      May 24, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
  18. amy

    I'm way more interested in freedom FROM religion these days...

    May 24, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
    • Concerned Citizen

      Hallelujah brother! Amen!

      May 24, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • Mark9988

      You have always had that.

      May 24, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • Beth

      Agreed!!! Everyone has the right to their beliefs as long as they don't trample on the beliefs of others. Just because one group of people thinks something is a sin doesn't give them the right to impose their belief on others. Would you want to be jailed or stoned for eating pork, or for working on Sunday, or for getting a divorce? No? Then you need to think twice about making your belief system into laws that others have to obey, because one day you may be on the other side of that fence.

      May 24, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
    • JHorsey

      You have always had just that. There is nobody compelling you to live the way you do.

      What you REALLY want is freedom to silence the believers for your own benefit. What you REALLY want is to be able to have government tell religion what to do.

      The separation of Chuch and state swings both ways. Separation of church and state does not mean that religion must be silent or that religion must be controlled by the state. What you really would like is an oppression of the freedom of religion, which in and of itself is inseperably tied to the freedom of speech. The right to have an idea and express an opinion is inseperably tied to having a belief and practicing that belief in your personal life.

      You have always had your "freedom from religion."

      May 24, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
    • Moe

      So what is your take there being a giant menorah in front of the white house, where if a giant cross were to be erected charges would be pressed?

      May 24, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
    • TrueBlue42

      @jhorsey: The scorn with which you read into amy's single-line comment proves her right. You're a hater, and all based her making a statement that differs to your beliefs. But, no bother; your kind are the easiest to defeat.

      May 24, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
    • SkepticOne

      JHorsey
      "For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens, in giving it on all occasions their effectual support."
      Washington was saying that it didn't matter what ANYBODY's personal beliefs (especially his own) were, just that citizens follow the laws given by the government and work for the common good. The last bit about "Father of Mercies" was a general statement of well wishing, which when addressed to a Synagogue might be appropriate.

      May 24, 2012 at 7:36 pm |
    • Catholic Clarity

      So if you'll support granting this freedom you describe....no trouncing on the beliefs of others.....then can you agree it would oppose our freedom of religion to require Catholic organizations to distribute contraceptives, provide abortions and abortion-inducing drugs, and pay for sterilization? Stop the HHS Mandate today – protect our freedoms. If people feel differently, they can access these products/services elsewhere. To require people of a certain religion to go against their seriour moral conscience is exactly what we are protected from with our freedom OF religion.

      June 2, 2012 at 10:23 pm |
  19. Everett Wallace

    storage is WHere it should stay.

    May 24, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • Thezel

      truth hurts dont it

      May 24, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
    • Ky

      And why would that be, exactly?

      May 24, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
    • Peter

      Why? Explain.

      May 24, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
    • Catholic Clarity

      Troll.

      June 3, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
  20. Hunter

    How appropriate that they make this public now, in today's political climate. Maybe a few haters might realize the folly of their ways. As for all the nasty comments on here about Obama, you are all hypocrites, liars and apparently brainwashed.

    May 24, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • cynic

      Not to worry-one of them will point out Washington didn't mention Muslims-they're still not sure abou Jews.

      May 24, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
    • thought

      All you people that think this says something against those of us that do believe in God.... You obviously didn't read Washington's letter.... He calls on God himself to light the way.... Wake up people, this is just more proof that the founding fathers wanted God in our lives....

      May 24, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      Haters are incapable of believing the folly of their ways; that's why they are haters.

      May 24, 2012 at 6:21 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      Dear thought
      Where exactly did you find God mentioned in the letter?

      May 24, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
    • JHorsey

      Dear sqeptiq,

      "May the father of all mercies scatter light and not darkness in our paths, and make us all in our several vocations useful here, and in his own due time and way everlastingly happy."

      Father of all mercies = God.

      May 24, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
    • TrueBlue42

      @JHorsey: So "god" equals "father of all mercies", huh? Which "god"? Allah? Ra? Zeus?

      May 24, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
    • Catholic Clarity

      Nowhere in any account of Zeus was he a father of mercy. I'm not so sure about Allah....but surely this God who is the father of all mercy would want much less hate than is seen on most religious blog stories online..........

      June 2, 2012 at 10:14 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.