[act-ma] Ted Widmer Rocks Religious Tolerance

Cambridge Forum director at cambridgeforum.org
Tue Jun 5 12:06:32 PDT 2012

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June 2012


Our season is almost over.  Join historian, political speech-writer, and rock star
Ted Widmer on June 13 to discuss the "curious history" of religious tolerance in
 America.  Contemporary issues, from treatment of Muslim Americans to the debate
 about health care policy and Catholic hospitals, demonstrate that the meaning of
religious tolerance is far from settled.
Then it's a case of "The season is over. Long live the season!"  It's time to start
planning for next fall, so take our survey and tell us who you want to hear and 
what you want to talk about.
But hurry--the survey closes on June 25!
Pat  Suhrcke, Director

Cambridge Forum

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A Test Case for America:   Washington, Longfellow, and the Jewish Community at Newport

June 13 @ 7pm

Ted Widmer reviews the history of George Washington's seminal communication on religious
 freedom and offers his reflections on how well the country has  subsequently lived
up to this promise.   In August 1790, George  Washington made a ceremonial visit
 to Newport, Rhode Island.  Moses  Seixas, the warden of Congregation Kahal Kadosh
Yeshuat Israel (now  known as the Touro Synagogue) in Newport welcomed him with 
a letter.   Washington's response promised continued security to the Jewish  community
under the government of the new Republic.

Washington's  letter is seen as a foundation stone of American religious liberty
 and  the principle of separation between church and state. Each year, the  Touro
Synagogue re-reads it in a public ceremony.
How has the  subsequent history of religious tolerance in the United States lived
up  to Washington's promise?  Where, for example, do today's concerns about the 
location  of the proposed Islamic Center in lower Manhattan or police infiltration
 of Muslim student groups fit into this history?   Which  side  in the current debate
about birth control and  Catholic teaching  is truly  defending the First Amendment
freedom of  religion?

Co-sponsored  by the National Park Service, Longfellow House-Washington's  Headquarters
National Historic Site; Friends of the Longfellow  House-Washington's Headquarters;
the Massachusetts Society of the  Cincinnati; and by Ann Daily.  This program honors
Frances Ackerly a  former member of the Board of Cambridge Forum and the Friends
 of the  Longfellow House.

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