Franklin D. Roosevelt

Letter to Michael Williams on Religious Tolerance.

March 30, 1937

My dear Mr. Williams:

The lesson of religious toleration—a toleration which recognizes complete liberty of human thought, liberty of human conscience—is one which, by precept and example, must be inculcated in the hearts and minds of all Americans if the institutions of our democracy are to be maintained and perpetuated.

We must recognize the fundamental rights of man. There can be no true national life in our democracy unless we give unqualified recognition to freedom of religious worship and freedom of education. We have not forgotten, nor ever shall forget, the noble service in the cause of religious toleration rendered by the Calverts in Maryland three centuries ago. It gives me pleasure, therefore, to learn that The Commonweal, organ of the Calvert Associates, has arranged to celebrate in St. Patrick's Cathedral next Monday the three hundred third anniversary of the founding of Maryland, and Maryland's part in the establishment of religious liberty in America.

I have learned also with peculiar satisfaction that The Commonweal believes that rarely before in our history have prospects for achieving permanent harmony among the various elements composing our Nation been so propitious as at the present time. I rejoice in this assurance. I pledge myself at this solemn commemoration, with all the resources at my command, to work for so happy a consummation. My prayer shall ever be that this Nation, under God, may vindicate through all coming time the sanctity of the right of all within our borders to the free exercise of religion according to the dictates of conscience.

Very sincerely yours,

Mr. Michael Williams,

The Calvert Associates,

New York, N. Y.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Letter to Michael Williams on Religious Tolerance. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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