Award-winning religion reporter Richard Ostling recently noted a “neglected story” from 2018, namely the November 29 signing of the American Charter of Freedom of Religion and Conscience. This deeply flawed document, “at 5,000 words needlessly repetitive” in his description, includes several nefarious exponents of political Islam in an initiative that will ultimately do little to promote freedom.
The charter correctly emphasizes that religious freedom is a “fundamental right grounded in the dignity of the human person” and correspondingly notes the 1776 Declaration of Independence with its expression of natural law. America’s founding document is part of the “great tradition of freedom-loving peoples and their ringing declarations” such as the 1215 Magna Carta and the 1791 United States Constitution. This tradition evinces that “Americans’ political commitment to the Republic is rooted in deep pre-political conviction.”
The charter notes that religious freedom “has played an irreplaceable role in the story of our nation” and created “social capital…vital for human flourishing.” Correspondingly, the charter lauds the religious leadership in American reform movements, such as those against slavery and segregation. The charter thus announces its “distinctively American,” character while its authors universally “commend the vision, principles, and goals of the Charter to other nations.”