‘First Freedom First’ Effort Urges Candidates To Support Religious Liberty

First Freedom First, a project sponsored jointly by Americans United and The Interfaith Alliance Foundation, sent letters to six presidential candidates in August, urging support for five religious liberty principles.

The letter noted that nearly 350,000 Americans had come together to endorse the FFF petition and asked the candidates to express support for the ideas in it.

“Americans may disagree about some issues related to religious freedom, but most would agree that the right to engage in the religious or philosophical practices of their choice without heavy-handed interference by government is of paramount importance,” states the letter from AU’s Barry Lynn and TIAF’s Welton Gaddy. “Most Americans would agree that the government’s role is to protect religious freedom, not to promote or sponsor religious worship or dogma.”

The five issues raised in the letter are:

• Every American should have the right to make personal decisions – about family life, reproductive health, end of life care and other matters of personal conscience.

• American tax dollars should not go to charities that discriminate in hiring based on religious belief or that promote a particular religious faith as a requirement for receiving services.

• Political candidates should not be endorsed or opposed by houses of worship.

• Public schools should teach with academic integrity and without the promotion of religious preference or belief.

• Decisions about scientific and health policies should be based on the best available scientific data, not on religious doctrine.

The letters were sent to Democratic candidate Barack Obama, Republican candidate John McCain, Constitution Party candidate Chuck Baldwin, Green Party candidate Cynthia McKinney, Libertarian candidate Bob Barr and independent Ralph Nader.