Roger Williams showed a great curiosity and acceptance of the people he met during his travels - learning their language and customs and earning their trust. Having been banished from Massachusetts Bay due to intolerance of his religious beliefs, Williams turned his new community into a model of respect for other beliefs, accepting those with whom he did not agree, in religious and political matters, as long as they were good citizens and worked for the good of the colony.
tol·er·ance: willingness to accept feelings, habits, or beliefs that are different from your own - Merrian-Webster
"Tolerance is respect, acceptance, and appreciation of the rich diversity of our world’s cultures, our forms of expression, and ways of being human.” -UNESCO Declaration of Principles on Tolerance
“Intolerance can be unlearnt. Tolerance and mutual respect have to be learnt” - United Nations Information Service 2004
Resources for Teaching Tolerance
Teaching Tolerance, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, is a resource for educators who care about diversity, equity, and justice to share news, resources, and conversation. The blog offers information for teachers, parents, teens and children on ways to help promote tolerance and things that they can be doing everyday to help rid the world of intolerance. Teachers can explore a robust compilation of lesson plans aimed at teaching tolerance in the classroom such as Understanding Other Religious Beliefs and One Nation, Many Beliefs.
This free literacy-based curriculum by Teaching Tolerance for educators marries anti-bias social justice content with Common Core Standards. To get started, you might check out this video on How to Use ‘Perspectives for a Diverse America'.
The Member States of the United National Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization adopted the Declaration of Principles on Tolerance in Paris at their General Conference on November 16, 1995. “Resolving to take all positive measures necessary to promote tolerance in our societies, because tolerance is not only a cherished principle, but also a necessity for peace and for the economic and social advancement of all peoples.” Learn more about the International Day for Tolerance, November 16.
The Washington Letter: To Bigotry, No Sanction
During President George Washington’s visit to Rhode Island in 1790, Moses Seixas, a leader of Newport’s Jewish congregation, penned a letter to Washington expressing his hope that this new nation would grant all citizens respect and tolerance regardless of their religious beliefs. A few days later, Washington responded, echoing Seixas’s words with assurance that the United States government would give “to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance.” This letter, a reminder of Rhode Island’s history as a safe haven for all religions, is a powerful tool for teaching young people about religious freedom in the earliest days of American life. Washington’s famous statement is remarkable in that it is part of a larger vision of beyond-tolerance: “It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it were the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights, for, happily, the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support. Download Washington’s letter and the Educators Classroom Kit