Republican congressional candidates Robert Hurt and Keith Fimian have both spoken out against the proposed center and called on their Democratic opponents (Representatives Tom Perriello and Gerry Connolly) to join them in opposition. Fimian even inexplicably claimed this was not “a question of … religious freedom” even though it seems to me that he only opposes the center because it is a Muslim organization.
James Madison strongly believed the nation must provide for “the freedom of religious opinion & worship” for “every sect.” More importantly, Madison wrote in a letter to Jefferson that one positive result of the U.S. Constitution was that it “opened a door for Jews Turks & infidels.”
Madison’s view of freedoms for Turks—his century’s term for Muslims—should serve as an important model for today’s politicians. Madison knew that religious liberty for all would make both government and religion stronger, and he correctly predicted that religion would flourish in this country because it was kept separate from government.
Houses of worship must not be used as political footballs in America. We are taking a dark and dangerous path once we start limiting religious liberty. People of all faiths must stand up for religious liberty for all. We must demand that our politicians stand up for the basic tenets of American Constitutional democracy. And if they will not, then we must not elect them to an office where they are supposed to uphold the Constitution.
--Dr. Brian T. Kaylor is a former pastor who teaches political communication at James Madison University and is the author of a forthcoming book on religion and politics