“All Religions. All This Singing.
One Song. Peace Be With You.”
Over the summer, along with nine other amazing people across the country, I was named a 2023 BJC Fellow. It is a fantastic honor to be a part of such a select group of scholars, practitioners, and community leaders of diverse educational, professional, and religious backgrounds. With BJC`s almost nine decades of legacy in religious liberty through education, scholarship, and advocacy, this experience will be an incredible addition to my religious freedom toolbox. It will help me move forward toward becoming a partner and an ally of all faiths by upholding these values.
BJC Fellows Program involved a 5-day seminar in Colonial Williamsburg, where we explored the legal, theological, and historical underpinnings of religious freedom and returned to our local contexts with a more robust understanding of faith, freedom, for all. We toured the area, heard from BJC staff, and interacted with experts.
Through historical interpreters like Gowan Pamphlet and George Wythe, I was immersed in the vital place of Colonial Williamsburg in the early days of VA Colony and how it influenced religious freedom being recognized, internalized, and ratified in the state and the nation. I was also unaware of the struggles, challenges, and triumphs of religious communities, especially the Baptists, oppressed by the Anglican Church in VA. This, in turn, energized and inspired figures like Thomas Jefferson and James Madison to take steps toward alleviating the pain and suffering of these communities who were harassed, beaten, and imprisoned because of living their lives according to their conscience.
We must approach “faith, freedom, for all” from a “one for all and all for one” point of view. With this understanding, we can collectively inform, partner, and advocate for religious freedom for all challenged and mistreated because of their religious beliefs and traditions. Moving forward, regardless of our backgrounds, we must unite and use this as a platform to raise our voices to support religious liberties and uphold our First Amendment rights in the Constitution.