Religious & Civic Leaders

Updated July 26, 2016

Religious and civic leadership in the twenty-first century requires a thorough understanding of the guiding principles of the First Amendment that enables Americans to negotiate religious and philosophical differences in the public square with civility and respect.

Most religious and civic leaders receive little or no education about the history and significance of the religious liberty principles of the First Amendment. These principles provide the civic framework for living among people of all faiths and of none. To help religious and civic leaders meet the challenges of the nation’s rapidly expanding pluralism, the Religious Freedom Center is collaborating with leading theological schools and faith leaders from a diverse array of religious traditions to offer blended learning courses on religious freedom and religion in public life.

Upon successful completion of five courses, participants will be eligible to receive a Graduate Certificate in Religion in Public Life from an accredited graduate school. The curriculum’s primary goal is to prepare emerging and current religious and civic leaders for effective leadership in a pluralistic democracy. Each certificate program will conclude with a capstone project in which participants are expected to demonstrate the ability to apply First Amendment principles to religious freedom issues of significance in their own communities. The desired outcome is for communities to cooperate in building a democracy where religious diversity is a source of strength rather than a point of weakness, conflict, or division.

This curriculum is the nation’s first blended learning curriculum and online forum designed to teach the principles of the First Amendment to emerging and established religious and civic leaders. By applying this constitutional framework, leaders will forge a shared understanding of the place of religion in public life and work together to sustain America’s bold experiment in living with our deepest differences.


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