How to Share Your Story Effectively
Approaches that maximize your impact in the religious liberty discussion. This draws on research from the Movement Advancement Project. It is intended as guidance, not a script.
Lead with Values
Connecting on a values level precedes persuasion, so it is essential to lead by proclaiming your deep support for religious liberty. For example:
“Freedom of religion is one of our most fundamental values as Americans and people of faith.”
Define religious freedom
Next, build on your values message by defining religious liberty. For example:
“Freedom of religion is one of our most fundamental rights as Americans. That’s why it’s protected in the Constitution. But religious freedom doesn’t give any of us a right to harm or discriminate against others.
Themes and arguments that bolster and flesh out your core message.
Personal stories. Speaking from your own experience is more persuasive than any talking point or abstract argument. If you have been discriminated against in the name of religious liberty, or conversely if religious liberty has protected you from discrimination, briefly and directly tell your story.
Values message: The Golden Rule. This teaching, common to all faiths, is powerful and easy to understand. For example:
“My faith teaches that we are to treat others fairly, as we would wish to be treated ourselves.”
“One of the most important values we have is treating others the way we want to be treated, and creating new laws that go against that principle hurts us all.”
Values message: All God’s Children. Including all people in the “we” that is protected by religious liberty is important. For example:
“We’re all God’s children. Following the teachings of our faith is of utmost importance, but that doesn’t give any of us the right to discriminate against others.”
Supporting message: Define the other side. For example:
“People shouldn’t be able to pick and choose which laws they will or won’t obey.”
Do’s and Don’ts
Do: Speak from your experience and your faith tradition.
For example, “as a Rabbi,” or “as a Baptist” is more compelling and authentic than generically identifying yourself as a “faith leader” or “person of faith.”
If your faith has a well-known tradition of working for religious freedom -- or a history of being discriminated against -- tell these stories.
Do: Broaden the consequences.
Although the discussion often focuses around sexuality and gender identity, the conversation is broader. For example, the rise in hate speech and acts targeting religious minorities suppresses religious freedom as well.
Don’t: Focus on constitutional law.
While it’s useful to refer to “the Constitution” and “the First Amendment,” it’s wise to avoid getting into the weeds of individual rulings.
Don’t: Use divisive language.
Is there a single definition for religious liberty? Tell us what religious liberty means to you and how can faith communities preserve religious liberty for all of us by click here.