A red band across the top with Salon on the top. The headline, and a collage of a Black Lives Matter sign, a church and Thomas Jefferson.

“Since 2016 (as I’ve reported), a growing chorus of religious and secular progressives — organized in part by people like Frederick Clarkson, senior research analyst at Political Research Associates — have pushed back, seeking reclaim Jefferson’s original intent, which he later made explicit, writing that the Statute contained ‘within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mohametan, the Hindoo and Infidel of every denomination.’ Recovering the original meaning also entails pushing back against the right’s anti-choice and anti-LGBTQ politics, which they’ve sought to protect under the mantle of their own beliefs, while forcing those beliefs on others.”

“Of course, Jefferson has come in for increasing criticism from the left as well, due to his slaveholder status, which looms larger than ever after last year’s historic Black Lives Matters protests. But rather than argue over Jefferson’s undeniable individual flaws, there’s a growing movement in the Black religious community to adopt a much broader and deeper critical view of the discourse of religious freedom, even if it was initially promulgated by a slave-owning empire. These new voices are more in synch than at odds with those previously engaged in the battle to reclaim religious freedom, as seen in a roundtable forum produced by Political Research Associates, ‘Religious Freedom and the Machinations of the Christian Right,’ held on Jan. 14.” 

“Indeed, a fair amount of the discussion held by Political Research Associates intersected with perspectives and concerns raised in the Freedom Forum book and webinar”

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