Skip to Main Content
undefined

Religious Toleration and Religious Liberty

35 min
  • Read and discuss Founding documents related to the concept of religious toleration.
  • Read and discuss Founding documents related to the concept of religious liberty.
  • Compare and contrast the concepts of religious toleration and religious liberty by analyzing quotes from the Founders.
  • Read and discuss the contribution of President George Washington to religious liberty.

  • Handout A: The American Journey from Religious Toleration to Religious Liberty
  • Handout B: Religious Toleration
  • Handout C: Religious Liberty
  • Handout D: Quote Cards
  • Handout E: Letters to the Congregations: George Washington and Religious Liberty
  • Two shoeboxes

  1. Have students read Handout A: The American Journey from Religious Toleration to Religious Liberty and individually answer the comprehension and critical thinking questions.

  1. With the entire class, spend a few minutes discussing the following questions:
    1. What does religious toleration mean?
    2. What does religious liberty mean?
    3. What is the difference between religious toleration and religious liberty?

Activity I

  1. Assign students in pairs and have them read and assign half the groups to complete Handout B: Religious Toleration and half to complete Handout C: Liberty of Conscience.
  2. Within the groups, students will analyze the quotes relating to religious toleration or liberty of conscience and then summarize the best arguments for their position in the space provided on Handout B or Handout C.
  3. Once students have finished with Handouts B and C, ask students in a few groups to share the best arguments from their side.

Activity II

  1. Using two shoeboxes or other similarly sized boxes, label one RT: Religious Toleration and label another RL: Religious Liberty.
  2. Distribute the Handout D: Quote Cards to the students. Students should read the quote, determine whether it represents religious liberty or religious toleration, and then place the quote cards in the box representing their choice. Have the students defend their choice by explaining how the quote supports either religious toleration or religious liberty.

  1. Discuss the difference between religious toleration and religious liberty according to the following questions:
    1. After reviewing the primary sources, is it more ideal to enjoy religious toleration or religious liberty? Why?
    2. Which principles of the American Founding supported religious liberty? Why did these principles have that effect?

  1. Students should complete Handout E: Letters to the Congregations: George Washington and Religious Liberty.

  1. Have students research religious liberty at the Library of Congress on-line exhibition “Religion and the Founding of the American Republic” and write a paragraph analyzing a primary source, visual, or biography from the website.
    1. The exhibit can be found at http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/religion/index.html.