"American Values, Religious Voices" Letters to the President

Today I sent my first letter to the president.

It’s part of an initiative titled “American Values, Religious Voices: 100 Days. 100 Letters,” a national bipartisan campaign spearheaded by Rabbi Andrea Weiss that brings together 100 writers from different religious traditions to articulate core American values that have grounded our nation in the past and should guide us forward at this time of political transition.

For the first 100 days of this new administration, a one-page letter, authored by a religious leader, scholar, or teacher, will be sent to the President, Vice President, Cabinet Secretaries, and Members of the House and Senate. The letters also will be shared with subscribers to a daily email and available to the general public.

Contributors were invited to speak from their own religious traditions, to state how one’s religious values support (or perhaps push back against) American values. What do we want the new administration to know about how each religious tradition makes America great? 

From the Catholic tradition, there are certainly many religious values upon which I would like President Trump to reflect. I might have written about torture, racism, immigration, abortion, health care, distributive justice, nuclear weapons, and more.

But after much rumination and a little prayer, I decided that, regarding current and actionable proposals of the Trump administration, the issue on which my Catholic tradition and my American values most cohere is that of religious liberty for minorities.

You can read my letter—and the others as they are posted each day—on the Values and Voices website. I hope you will.


Michael Peppard is associate professor of theology at Fordham University and on the staff of its Curran Center for American Catholic Studies. He is the author of The World's Oldest Church and The Son of God in the Roman World, and on Twitter @MichaelPeppard. He is a contributing editor to Commonweal.

Please email comments to letters@commonwealmagazine.org and join the conversation on our Facebook page.

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