Wednesday, January 16, 2019


Published on Jan 15, 2019
 If you want a glimpse into what the left hopes to bring to the United States, look no further than communist China, where political dissidents are now being arrested and interrogated for what they put on Twitter.


republished below in full unedited for informational, educational and research purposes:

In his book Religion in Life, John Foster Dulles (later secretary of state for President Dwight Eisenhower) called for the “abolition of the entire concept of national sovereignty and the unification of the world into a single nation. All boundary levels are thus automatically leveled.”
Dulles, a founder of the globalist Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) after World War I, was a leader of the notoriously left-wing Federal Council of Churches, now the National Council of Churches, the American branch of the World Council of Churches (WCC).
Apparently, the WCC remains a strong advocate of multinational organizations, as it is receiving support from the United Nations, according to The Jerusalem Post in an article published Monday, to promote a boycott of Israel. WCC receives funding from several Western governments and the European Union (EU).
The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (also known as BDS) is a global campaign promoting various forms of boycott against Israel until it meets what the campaign describes as Israel’s obligations under international law. These obligations are defined as withdrawal from the “occupied” territories, and removal of the separation barrier in the West Bank (the success of which should provide evidentiary information for Trump’s desire for a wall or “separation barrier” on our own border). The campaign is organized and coordinated by the Palestinian BDS National Committee, and supported by WCC through its Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI).
The EAPPI of WCC has sent 1,800 activists to the West Bank and Jerusalem in the past 15 years for the stated goal of “monitoring and reporting human rights abuses.” The EAPPI refers to the Israeli presence as an “occupation.”
While the WCC claims its goal is Christian unity, representing around 500 million Christians around the world, it said Christians who support the right of the nation of Israel to exist are guilty of “heresy.”
At a WCC event in 2015, modern Israelis were said to have no connection to the ancient Israelites in the Bible, and Israeli society was accused of being “full of racism and light skin privilege,” even comparing Israel to apartheid-era South Africa. In a 2016 presentation in London, EAPPI activist Hannah Griffiths blamed what she called the “Jewish lobby” for persuading many American Christian evangelicals to support Israel.
South African EAPPI activist Itani Rasalanavho said, “The time has come to say that the victims of the Holocaust have now become the perpetrators.”
This comparison of Israel to Nazi Germany is not unique, nor is it just done by low-ranking members of WCC. WCC General Secretary Dr. Olav Fyske Tveit has said, “I heard about the occupation of my country during the five years of World War II as the story of my parents. Now I see and hear the stories of 50 years of occupation.”
Exactly why leftists have such animosity toward Israel is not clear. At one time, Israel enjoyed quite a bit of support from the international Left. Perhaps it is the growing secularization of progressives and radicals, around the world, and they do not like anyone who puts their families or their religion above the State. Dividing people of different religious and ethnic backgrounds has long been a tactic of the Left, and Jewish people have certainly provided division in societies, whether they are at fault for that or not.
Unfortunately, this type of tactic has divided Christians and Jews, Jews and Muslims, men and women, old and young, and so on. Instead of focusing on uniting people, the Left gets people to hate Jews or Muslims, or some other group to allow the expansion of government on a global scale.
As witnessed by the words of John Foster Dulles, the leadership of the WCC has long been devoted to the idea of a global government. Because of its radical reputation, most Christian churches are not aligned with the WCC. This probably explains why globalists have seen the need to begin to infiltrate denominations and congregations with more conservative reputations, getting supposedly “conservative” preachers to openly support open borders, increased global restrictions on the economy to “combat global warming,” and other liberal causes. Some of these ministers with conservative reputations have even joined the globalist Council on Foreign Relations.
One has to wonder why a minister of the gospel would even join an organization that desires world government, but it is clearly evident why the CFR would recruit a preacher with a conservative reputation. After all, the village atheist is not going to attract many conservative Protestants or conservative Catholics.


WCC's telling policy on the Israeli–Palestinian conflict

SEE: below in full unedited for informational, educational and research purposes:
Jerusalem Post headline on January 14, 2019 declared “World Council of Churches (WCC) use anti-Semitic rhetoric and advocate Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS)” against Israel.  Research by NGO Monitor found that, “The WCC project – Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) has sent 1,800 Ecumenical Accompaniers from around the world to serve as observers in the West Bank and Jerusalem over the past 15 years, and aim to have 25 to 30 of these unofficial observers on the ground at all times. This is the only program of its kind run by the WCC.”
The stated goal of the EAPPI observers, according to the WCC, is to “offer protective presence and witness…monitoring and reporting human right abuses…standing with local peace and human rights groups…and advocacy (for Arab-Palestinians).” Naturally, this is a one-sided enterprise and pseudo “human rights” effort. It looks the other way on Arab-Palestinian terror, gross violations of human rights, hate propaganda, and anti-Semitism taught in Arab-Palestinian schools and mosques by the official Hamas and Palestinian Authority school systems.
According to the WCC website, the group represents 350 member churches in 110 countries, and half a billion Christians throughout the world. WCC member churches can be found in all regions of the world and include most of the Orthodox churches (Eastern and Oriental, i.e. Arab), as well as African Instituted, Anglican, Assyrian, Baptist, Evangelical, Lutheran, Mennonite, Methodist, Moravian, Old Catholic, Pentecostal, Reform, United/Uniting and Free /Independent churches, Disciples of Christ, and Friends (Quakers). The Roman Catholic Church is not a part of the WCC.
Significantly, many of these U.S. churches belong to the National Council of Churches. These liberal, left-leaning churches (also known as mainline Protestant churches) have participated in BDS campaigns.  Their policies are driven to a large extent by the missionaries of the churches in the Arab world, who upon returning from the Middle East, occupy key policy positions in their churches.
In its Executive Summary, NGO Monitor pointed out that, the World Council of Churches EAPPI program, “Despite marketing itself as a human rights and protection program, EAPPI places a significant emphasis on political advocacy before, during, and after the trip (its 1,800 volunteers take to the West Bank). When volunteers return to their home countries and churches, they engage in anti-Israel advocacy, such as BDS (Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions targeting Israel alone) campaigns, and comparing Israel to apartheid South Africa and Nazi Germany.”
Participants in the EAPPI program are selected by country-specific non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) known as “National Coordinators.” The National Coordinators are active in BDS and other de-legitimization campaigns against Israel. EAPPI contributes to a United Nations (UN) “Working Group” consisting of a number of UN agencies and NGO’s that collaborate on and coordinate politicized anti-Israel campaigns in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria).  In this capacity, EAPPI does a lot of administrative work, which is fed into the UN systems.
EAPPI, according to NGO Monitor, partners with a number of political NGO’s in the region, including groups that support BDS campaigns against Israel and/or accuse Israel of “war crimes.” The problem with the EAPPI program, as laid out by NGO Monitor, is that much of the EAPPI activities, and the direction it is receiving from its parent body - the WCC, amounts to efforts to delegitimize the Jewish state. Using Nathan Sharansky’s widely accepted (adopted by the U.S. State Department in 2010) definition of anti-Semitism, the 3-D’s test (Delegitimization, Demonization, and Double Standards used against Israel), which distinguishes legitimate criticism of Israel from anti-Semitism, the WCC efforts through the EAPPI add up to anti-Semitism. 
In response to the NGO Monitor report, the WCC offered the following response: “The WCC was established in 1948. WCC is a fellowship of Christian churches around the world representing half a billion Christians, and is committed to the cause of Christian unity and, in that spirit, to ‘breaking down barriers between people, seeking justice and peace, and upholding the integrity of creation.’ As G-d stands by the oppressed and marginalized, the WCC seeks, with its member churches, to stand by such people, wherever they are or whatever their faith tradition might be.”  Nothing in the above statement contradicts NGO Monitor’s assertion of WCC promoting anti-Semitism.
One must also remember that Arab Middle Eastern churches are part of the WCC. Arab clergy in these churches have been clearly and absolutely dhimmified, meaning that they have been intimidated into submission, and to serve regimes that seek to undermine the Jewish state and promote the Palestinian cause. Not that Arab regimes are particularly enamored with the Palestinians, but rather because their powerful and majority Islamist populations demand it. By joining the anti-Israel bandwagon, Christian leaders in the Arab world receive acceptance from their Muslim overlords. The WCC looks the other way when it comes to Palestinian racism and anti-Semitism, terrorism, and hate education. The WCC has made no efforts to bring Palestinians to the peace table, or expressed sympathy for about a million Jewish refugees from the Muslim world, uprooted from their homes after more than 2,000 years of living in states such as Iraq, Egypt, Syria, Libya, etc.
The one-sided advocacy by the WCC-EAPPI is reflected in the following report by an Ecumenical Accompaniment (EA) representative: “If you live in East Jerusalem outside the wall, or in Ramallah for example, and you work in Jerusalem, you need to be at the checkpoint early if you want to get to work on time. Getting through the checkpoint can take anywhere between one and several hours.” If you did not know better, this statement alone would elicit sympathy for the “poor” Palestinians. Nowhere, however, do EA representatives mention the fact that the checkpoints are in place because of Palestinian terrorism. Whether it is individual knifers out to murder innocent Israeli civilians, children, or the elderly, it does not matter, as long as the target is a Jew. If it is not an Arab-Palestinian knife-wielding terrorist, it might be a car-ramming terrorist bent on killing as many Israeli Jews as possible.  This is not a hypothetical point, it is a daily reality that Israel must defend itself by erecting a wall, and having checkpoints. Additionally, the biased EA (WCC) representatives do not mention the Palestinian Authority incitement to violence, and remittances to Palestinian murderers in Israeli prisons. One can only wonder what will happen to an Israeli-Jew who took a wrong turn and entered Ramallah. My guess is that they would not come out alive. That, however, doesn’t concern WCC representatives.
WCC Policy on Palestine and Israel 1948-2016 is a clear case of bias and ignorance. “Christian communities” are not “threatened by Israeli policies,” but rather by Palestinian intolerance of non-Muslims. In fact, in Israel alone, the Christian community has steadily grown and flourished. In the Palestinian territories, and the Arab and Muslim world, Christians have suffered persecution and death.  There is no such thing as Occupied Palestinian Territories. There was never a state of Palestine, only territories occupied by Jordan in 1948, and Palestinian rejection of the UN Partition Plan, which would have given them a state. Palestinians chose to destroy the nascent Jewish state rather than exercise their self-determination. They considered themselves Arabs, while the Jews were labeled Palestinians in 1948. Finally, the WCC policy which advocates Palestinian refugees “right of return,” is a code-word for the destruction of the Jewish state. It reaffirms the prejudice, and anti-Semitic stance of the WCC.


 "American Charter of Freedom of Religion and Conscience"
 The American Charter of Freedom of Religion and Conscience is an initiative of the Religious Freedom Institute in partnership with Baylor University’s Institute for Studies of Religion with funding from the Templeton Religion Trust.

The American Charter of Freedom of Religion and Conscience is the result of a collaborative initiative to:

  • Restore civility to public discourse on religion and freedom of religion and conscience in American society.
  • Explore the meaning and value of freedom of religion and conscience as a foundation of American democracy and national and international prosperity.
  • Build a multi-faith, non-partisan coalition working to affirm freedom of religion and conscience as a vital safeguard for people of all faiths and none.
republished below in full unedited for informational, educational and research purposes:
Award-winning religion reporter Richard Ostling recently noted a “neglected story” from 2018, namely the November 29 signing of the American Charter of Freedom of Religion and Conscience. This deeply flawed document, “at 5,000 words needlessly repetitive” in his description, includes several nefarious exponents of political Islam in an initiative that will ultimately do little to promote freedom.
The charter correctly emphasizes that religious freedom is a “fundamental right grounded in the dignity of the human person” and correspondingly notes the 1776 Declaration of Independence with its expression of natural law. America’s founding document is part of the “great tradition of freedom-loving peoples and their ringing declarations” such as the 1215 Magna Carta and the 1791 United States Constitution. This tradition evinces that “Americans’ political commitment to the Republic is rooted in deep pre-political conviction.”
The charter notes that religious freedom “has played an irreplaceable role in the story of our nation” and created “social capital…vital for human flourishing.” Correspondingly, the charter lauds the religious leadership in American reform movements, such as those against slavery and segregation. The charter thus announces its “distinctively American,” character while its authors universally “commend the vision, principles, and goals of the Charter to other nations.”
Yet the leadership of a prominent conservative Montana evangelical church (they believe in “young-Earth creationism” and that “Roman Catholicism is a counterfeit Christianity”) scorns the charter’s underlying ecumenical universalism. The church’s popular website Pulpit and Pen (PP) criticizes the fact that the charter “places oppressive religions like Islam in the same category as Christianity and credits them all with equal contributions to the American way of life.” While the American abolitionist and civil rights movements drew heavily upon Christian faith, the charter’s general terms are “gutting America of its theological underpinnings, minimizing its Christian heritage.”
The 19th-century French intellectual Alexis de Tocqueville provides compelling witness for PP’s valid observation that “America’s commitment to Christianity is responsible for its national exceptionalism.” American “pre-political” human rights values come from the “uniquely Christian doctrine” of mankind being made in the “Imago Dei.” By contrast, as the esteemed Catholic intellectual Robert Reilly has lucidly analyzed, Islamic orthodoxy’s denial that humanity shares a divine likeness has resulted in Islamic denigration of the human reason that underlies free societies.
Notwithstanding the charter’s prioritization of “pluralism” in America and abroad, observes the Christian commentator Cody Libolt, “some cultures are better than others.” The charter’s citation of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) among freedom’s “ringing declarations” ignores the fact that the UDHR resulted from centuries of human rights advocacy in which Christians were preeminent. All the other “ringing declarations” merely represent the “great tradition of freedom-loving peoples” in Anglo-American culture.
PP rightfully suspects that certain charter language would prevent policymakers from exercising precisely such necessary cultural awareness with respect to Islam. The charter vaguely opposes “any governmental policy that would discriminate against individuals or groups based on their religion.” The charter further condemns “rhetoric and actions by governmental leaders and others that demonize individuals or faith communities” or that “hold entire faith groups collectively responsible for the evil deeds of a few.” As PP observes, the charter apparently targets “policies like that threatened by President Trump” to “place a temporary moratorium on immigrants from primarily Islamic nations who want to destroy the United States.”
Review of the charter’s Muslim signatories only confirms PP’s wariness towards multiculturalism. Both Mohamed Magid and Sayyid Syeed, a man who wants to “to change the constitution of America” that is so praised by the charter, have not-so-“freedom-loving” pasts, as evidenced by both men’s leadership of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). This Muslim Brotherhood (MB)-derived organization and terrorism-financing unindicted co-conspirator demonstrated its continuing Islamic supremacism at ISNA’s 2018 annual conference with a rogue’s gallery of jihad terrorism apologists and Israel-haters.
Likewise Eftakhar Alam and Anwar Khan represent Islamic Relief USA, the American branch of another global MB organization known for antisemitism and terrorism support. Omar Suleiman’s apologetics for honor killings and sex slavery, along with his vicious antisemitism and Islamic myths that deny Jewish Temple Mount history, hardly befit the “dignity of the human person.” The Shiite Imam Hassan Al-Qazwini is similarly anti-Semitic, as indicated by his Dearborn, Michigan, Islamic Center of America hosting Louis Farrakhan as well as a 2010 memorial service for Hezbollah leader Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah.
“Free exercise of religion and conscience requires other fundamental rights also guaranteed by the First Amendment, including the freedoms of speech,” the charter proclaims, yet its Muslim signatories have consistently belied this sentiment. Al-Qazwini called in 2012 for censoring the internet film Innocence of Muslims as a form of incitement, while Suleiman has aided Google’s suppression of “Islamophobia.” Maha ElGenaidi wrote to Stanford University about her horrified opposition to a 2017 lecture by the “well-known national fomenter of Islamophobia,” Jihad Watch’s own Robert Spencer.
Similarly, Princeton University Muslim Life Coordinator and Chaplain Imam Sohaib Sultan tried to stop a 2009 address by the Egyptian-American Muslim convert to Christianity Nonie Darwish. His fellow signatory Asma Uddin once promoted the deranged leftist Israel-hater, academic fraud, and “Islamophobia” scam artist Nathan Lean at a Washington, DC, event by the Rumi Forum, part of the shadowy Islamic Fethullah Gülen network. She has correspondingly downplayed Islamic sharia law’s dangers and has wrongly argued that state law prohibitions on judicial application of foreign laws like sharia in violation of constitutional rights would ban private Islamic religious arbitration.
The Muslim charter signatory Usra Ghazi’s speech raises troubling questions of its own. She once responded to the internet sensation of a woman who wrote about concealing her Muslim identity to other Muslims, because she feared their condemnation for wearing traditionally non-Islamic female attire such as shorts. Ghazi argued that such “chastisement comes from a place of love” and is “taking really literally and personally the Koranic commandment [i.e. Quran 3:110] to enjoin good and forbid evil for the sake of the salvation of other Muslims.” While under the law in free societies such as America, she may debate such Islamic hijab dress codes for women, other women globally know from bitter personal experience how oppressive such Islamic enjoinment can be.
The charter proclaims with sacral invocations a religious freedom “commitment that is, at its heart, covenantal, based on a solemn and binding promise between citizens as embodied in the U.S. Constitution.” Yet the charter’s Muslim signatories inspire little confidence that they will embrace any such solemn commitment and its Western moral and theological underpinnings. By contrast, these dubious individuals will benefit from the legitimacy of associating with such a lofty-sounding charter and its implied opposition to “Islamophobia.” However, the charter will provide less benefit in protecting the religious freedom concerns of the charter’s often naïve non-Muslim signatories, as a forthcoming article will analyze.
 Islam and Freedom Don’t Mix in New Charter (Part II)
republished below in full unedited for informational, educational and research purposes:
The November 29, 2018, American Charter of Freedom of Religion and Conscience claims as supporters a “multi-faith, non-partisan coalition” that includes several sharia supremacist charter signatories, as previously disclosed. Yet these and other dangers raise little alarm among the charter’s Christian signatories, who promote a flawed religious freedom defense.
The disturbing Muslim charter signatories receive no critical corrective from non-Muslim signatories such as Charles Haynes, Religious Freedom Center (RFC) founding director at the Washington, DC, Newseum Freedom Forum Institute. While Haynes has written about the “Islamophobia” concern he shares with his fellow signatory and RFC colleague Asma Uddin, the RFC has welcomed noted British Salafists. In a parallel situation, the evangelical Bob Roberts has suggested censoring Innocence of Muslims while praising the extremist Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi.
Roberts has a longstanding relationship with the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). His fellow evangelical signatory Chris Seiple has also had a similar lengthy relationship with Suhail Khan, an American Muslim with numerous close ISNA and other Muslim Brotherhood (MB) ties. The CATO Institute’s past laughable pronouncements on sharia law’s compatibility with libertarianism and dubious Muslim “libertarian” advisers meanwhile make suspect the credibility of signatory Ilya Shapiro, a CATO legal scholar.
The Catholic signatories such as conservative intellectual luminary Robert George always seem to show affection for all things Muslim, including his fellow charter signer and friend Hamza Yusuf, notwithstanding his radical affiliations. Similar outlooks are found among George’s fellow Catholics at Washington, DC’s Religious Freedom Institute (RFI), including its executive director Kent Hill, who over-optimistically advocates pro-life Christian-Muslim alliances. Georgetown University Professor Timothy Shah’s past policy prescriptions for Middle East Christians have likewise emphasized encouraging Muslim respect for religious freedom rather than Christian realpolitik defensive measures.
RFI’s Thomas Farr has carefully assessed strategies “to help Muslim reformers win the war of ideas” for religious liberty in Islamic societies, a key tool “to forestall religion-based violence and terrorism.” Yet he has concluded that, while Ground Zero Mosque initiative leader Faisal Abdul Rauf and his wife Daisy Khan “have said some highly inflammatory things, their lives of service and outreach belie the charge of extremism.” Farr would amaze National Review Online writers such as Andrew C. McCarthy and Ibn Warraq, who have amply demonstrated how “Rauf is a master of double talk and prevarication.”
Meanwhile, the Jewish leaders who signed the charter often profess leftist pieties about peace and multiculturalism, such as American Jewish Committee (AJC) general counsel Marc Stern. The AJC has drawn Jewish criticism for forming a Muslim-Jewish Advisory Council with ISNA while on the other hand not opposing affirmative action programs inimical to Jewish students. Rabbi Jack Moline has previously responded to jihadist violence not with criticism of Islamic doctrines, but rather with calls for gun control. Rabbi Michael G. Holzman is a member of the rabbinic cabinet for the George Soros-funded J Street, a leftist group with a fraudulent “pro-peace, pro-Israel” slogan.
Holzman and his fellow charter signer Usra Ghazi both supported statements opposing Israel’s 2014 campaign against Hamas terrorism in the Gaza strip. Ghazi signed a letter condemning “Israel’s illegal and immoral actions in the Occupied Territories” and calling for suspending military aid to Israel. Holzman issued a joint letter with the former ISNA president Mohamed Magid that presented Israel’s defense against Hamas’ jihadist aggression as a matter of “vengeance and blood-feud” and “tribal urges.”
Among all the charter signatories, the popular Baptist website Pulpit and Pen (PP) spotlighted Russell Moore, the leader of the Southern Baptist Convention’s (SBC) Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC). PP noted his lifelong leftist tendencies at variance with the SBC’s Christian conservatives and his leading role in the Soros-funded Evangelical Immigration Table (EIT). EIT’s pro-immigration positions are fine with Moore, who has decried building a border wall as a “golden calf,” and with his “social justice warrior-companion,” the Hispanic evangelical and charter signatory Reverend Samuel Rodriguez.
While Moore and other Christian charter signers might seek good relations with leftists and Muslims, increasingly these groups are forming somewhat paradoxical red-green political alliances opposed to Christian conservatives. In particular, even Islamist groups such as ISNA have expressed support for Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) laws that would punish Christians and others for opposing homosexuality and “transgender” gender dysphoria.
In contrast, the charter makes the critical concession that “[l]ike all human rights, freedom of religion and conscience is not absolute.” As a press release states, the
American Charter frankly acknowledges today’s controversies involving tensions involving freedom of religion and conscience, including those involving the equal protection of the laws and domestic security.
The press release expresses the pious hope amidst the pelvic Left’s take-no-prisoners assault upon Christians and other traditional sexual morality supporters that what “unites us as Americans is greater than what we disagree” on. Invoking the “civility” mantra particularly in vogue among America’s modern Left, the charter states the desire to “counter the incivility of the last half century of culture-warring.” As Haynes has written in conjunction with Oliver Thomas from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the charter responds to a “divided, dangerous moment in our history.”
Correspondingly, one charter signatory, National Association of Evangelicals President Leith Anderson, has accepted a so-called compromise on SOGI laws paired with religious exemptions. Yet Farr has previously accurately reported from America’s culture wars that today the “greatest threat to religious freedom” is same-sex “marriage” proponents like the ACLU, who have “such anger and vindictiveness that it’s frightening.” Thus Moore and Rodriguez, among others, have rejected Anderson’s belief that religious exemptions could ever defuse the inherent threats of SOGI laws.
However, in the charter, notes Christian commentator Cody Libolt, Moore “continues his pattern of speaking up for non-Christians while saying nothing about the massive and escalating infringements of the rights of Christians in this country.” While the charter proffers peace to secular LGBT agendas and makes previously noted nods against “Islamophobia,” he is “taking a stand for groups that are known to take advantage of tolerance until they come to power.” Notwithstanding commitments to human equality, Libolt concludes, “principled Christians should not lift even one finger to assist the agenda of groups explicitly hostile to Christianity or to the security of our nation.”
No wonder PP dismisses as “feckless, cowering, ecumenical claptrap” the charter and its broad church of signatories. Among them appear religious freedom stalwarts and jihad opponents such as former representative Frank Wolf as well as Suhag Shukla, whose Hindu American Foundation promotes supremacist Hindutva Hindu nationalism. It is doubtful how much the American Charter, with its carefully calibrated compromises, code phrases against “Islamophobia,” and motley crew coalitions with groups varying in their sincerity towards liberty, will protect religious freedom.
 Freedom of religion and conscience: Restoring civility, protecting pluralism - Part 1
Brookings Institution
Published on Sep 14, 2017
 On September 13, 2017, Brookings hosted a discussion with the American Charter Project on the vital role that religious pluralism and freedom of religion and conscience play in fostering civility and unity in our democratic republic. (transcript available)