Freedom of religion, a right upheld in the United States constitution, is a tenet that Americans hold dear.
President Barack Obama recently reaffirmed this right for all Americans, and emphasized the importance of pluralism in American society during his first presidential visit to a U.S. mosque.
“When enshrining Freedom of Religion in our Constitution and our Bill of Rights, our founders meant what they said when they said it applied to all religions.”
The President noted that “Islam has always been a part of America”.
“Generations of Muslim Americans helped to build our nation. They were part of the flow of immigrants who became farmers and merchants. They built America’s first mosque. … The first Islamic center in New York City was built in the 1890s. Muslim Americans worked on Henry Ford’s assembly line, cranking out cars. A Muslim American designed the skyscrapers of Chicago,” said President Obama.
He also highlighted the many contributions the Muslim-American Community are making in American society.
“Muslim Americans enrich our lives today in every way. They’re our neighbors, the teachers who inspire our children, the doctors who we entrust with our health. …They’re scientists who win Nobel Prizes, young entrepreneurs who are creating new technologies that we use all the time. They’re the sports heroes we cheer for.”
“At a time when others are trying to divide us along lines of religion or sect,” he said, “We have to reaffirm that most fundamental of truths: We are all God’s children. We’re all born equal, with inherent dignity.”
President Obama noted the importance of staying true to American core values, including religious freedom, for all faiths, and acknowledged that at times the U.S. has fallen short of those ideals. He warned against the dangers of discrimination, bigotry, and a lack of protection for all faiths within society.
“Groups like ISIL are desperate for legitimacy,” saod President Obama. “The best way for us to fight terrorism is to deny these organizations legitimacy and to show that here in the United States of America, we do not suppress Islam; we celebrate and lift up the success of Muslim Americans. That’s how we show the lie that they’re trying to propagate.”