Even in the days when I was still religious, I was never evangelical. I generally believed in “live and let live,” but, well, religions that restricted women’s rights and advocated beating children have always offended me.
When I can find quotes about life that are meaningful to me, I like to add them to my Good Quotes page. I also try to find the original person who said it, so that the quote is properly attributed.
I ran into “Religious freedom doesn’t mean you can force others to live by your own beliefs” and liked it. It was on a graphic passed around that attributed it to President Obama. I thought I’d check…and, it looks like, he didn’t say it.
Since we on the left are constantly reminding people that “facts matter,” we need to be more careful about our facts. I’m about 99% sure he never said it, as I went to whitehouse.gov, and this quote is not attributed to him at his own site.
Now, he did give a talk back in February 2012 over health care and reproductive rights, where he clearly never made this statement. If he had made this statement, he would have probably included it in his concluding remarks:
Now, I’ve been confident from the start that we could work out a sensible approach here, just as I promised. I understand some folks in Washington may want to treat this as another political wedge issue, but it shouldn’t be. I certainly never saw it that way. This is an issue where people of goodwill on both sides of the debate have been sorting through some very complicated questions to find a solution that works for everyone. With today’s announcement, we’ve done that. Religious liberty will be protected, and a law that requires free preventive care will not discriminate against women.
We live in a pluralistic society where we’re not going to agree on every single issue, or share every belief. That doesn’t mean that we have to choose between individual liberty and basic fairness for all Americans. We are unique among nations for having been founded upon both these principles, and our obligation as citizens is to carry them forward. I have complete faith that we can do that.
So, who did say “Religious freedom doesn’t mean you can force others to live by your own beliefs” first? It’s not clear. I wish I had. But, certainly, people like Thomas Jefferson and James Madison pretty much said it in the First Amendment over 200 years ago:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.