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By BJC Staff Reports and Religion News Service

Faith leaders are calling on all Americans to stand up for religious freedom and against harassment and violence based on religion.

On Oct. 23, BJC Executive Director Brent Walker joined dozens of religious leaders and community members at an event highlighting the need to protect religious liberty and model it for the world. At a press conference at the Washington National Cathedral, they discussed the vital importance of religious freedom and introduced a pledge politicians can sign to demonstrate their commitment.

“I believe religious liberty is a gift from God and that governments should seek neither to advance nor inhibit religious choices,” Walker said. “Individual citizens and religious bodies should exercise their faith responsibly and fully respect religious beliefs of their neighbors. Governments throughout the United States – and all Americans – must model these values for the world.”

Rabbi Jack Moline, executive director of the Interfaith Alliance, said that “none of us is free to follow any faith or philosophy unless all of us enjoy the same protections of the Constitution.”

Isma Chaudhry of the Islamic Center of Long Island added, “Religious freedom is an inherent right that ensures humanity, dignity, peace, respect and harmony.”

Walker talks with Rajwant Singh of the Sikh Council on Religion and Education and Jim Winkler, president of the National Council of Churches.

The press conference followed a service called “Beyond Tolerance: A Call to Religious Freedom and Hopeful Action.” The multi-faith service focused on the call from different faith traditions to care for one another, moving beyond mere tolerance in a multi-religious society.

Pastor Bob Roberts of Northwood Church in Keller, Texas, led a prayer at the service. “I love Muslims as much as I love Christians,” he said. “Jesus, when you get hold of us, there’s nobody we don’t love.”

The event was co-hosted by the National Cathedral and Shoulder-to-Shoulder, an interfaith organization dedicated to ending anti-Muslim sentiment.

The pledge, available online at religiousfreedompledge.us, says that the signer will speak out against discrimination and harassment based on religion and “uphold and defend the freedom of conscience and religion of all individuals.”

From the November/December 2015 Report from the Capital. Click here to read the next story.