Give Bigotry No Sanction

A project to inspire thoughtful conversation about religious freedom in our increasingly diverse society.

Deepen the conversation about religious liberty and civic participation in your classroom with an exploration of the historic correspondence between George Washington and the Hebrew Congregation in Newport, RI in 1790. Use our lesson plans, text and images of the letters, and anthology of essays to explore the link between religious freedom and democracy, and to reflect on how this history affects issues of diversity in today’s society.

Washington's Rebuke to Bigotry: Reflections On Our First President’s Famous 1790 Letter To the Hebrew Congregation in Newport, Rhode Island is the cornerstone of our Give Bigotry No Sanction Project, and is presented in partnership with the George Washington Institute for Religious Freedom.

Prominent figures from around the world, across disciplines, and with diverse perspectives, use George Washington’s 1790 letter to the Hebrew Congregation in Newport, Rhode Island, as a springboard for addressing important and timely questions regarding religious freedom and freedom of choice such as:

  • Legalization of same sex marriage in the United States
  • Restrictions on religious practice in the public sphere in Europe
  • The role of religion in education

Contributors include:

  • Philosopher and prize-winning author Anthony Appiah
  • Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
  • Dean of the Faculty of Law at Harvard University Martha Minow
  • Distinguished American philosopher Martha Nussbaum
  • ​​Author and activist Eboo Patel
  • ​Renowned historian of Jewish life Jonathan Sarna
  • Pulitzer Prize-winning Historian Gordon Wood

See all contributors

Washington’s Rebuke to Bigotry has received high praise from a wide range of scholars including reviewers from the New York Journal of Books, the HuffPost Education Blog, and The Greater Good Science Center.

Washington's Rebuke to Bigotry represents some of the most eloquent voices on one of our most confounding challenges. The reflections on the Washington-Seixas letters will provoke citizens of all ages to think more imaginatively about the links between freedom of religious expression and deep democracy."

​ -Diane L. Moore, Harvard Divinity School

Washington's Rebuke to Bigotry: Reflections On Our First President's Famous 1790 Letter To The Hebrew Congregation In Newport, Rhode Island

Print book,

In this essay collection, scholars from across the disciplines connect the history of religious freedom in America to timely debates around religion in today's democracies.

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Everything you need to get started teaching your students about racism, antisemitism and prejudice.