The United States has a rich heritage in the city of Philadelphia.
It was there that our nation’s Founders came together to sign the documents that established our country and ensured that generations after them had a fighting chance at taking up the mantle of liberty.
While we continue to live under the freedoms protected by the Constitution, we are currently a nation divided. Not a week goes by without people being fired from their workplace or “canceled” in the court of public opinion for expressing their viewpoints.
Free speech is under attack.
This is why a diverse group of leaders have come together to create and sign the Philadelphia Statement: to commit to a better future, for current generations and, hopefully, many more to come.
The Significance of Philadelphia
Known as the “birthplace of America,” Philadelphia served as the convening hub of our nation’s founding. Every year, millions of Americans visit the city to tour Independence National Historic Park, home to the Liberty Bell, the First Bank of the United States, and the site of the First Continental Congress. The highlight of the park, however, is Independence Hall, where our nation’s Founders declared independence from the English Crown and later drafted the highest law in the land, the United States Constitution.
Our founding documents are the products of much discourse and disagreement. After all, out of 70 delegates invited to the Constitutional Convention, only 39 agreed to sign.
Yet one bedrock principle united the signers: Each person possesses inherent worth and is therefore endowed with inalienable rights which deserve protection.
The Philadelphia Statement, named in honor of that, affirms the need for free speech, civil discourse, and true tolerance in America—principles which we are seeing practiced less and less.
The truth is, in the current cultural climate, many are hesitant to express their opinions for risk of being attacked, online and off. Anyone who expresses an opinion is at risk of demonization and blacklisting. It is these tactics that are eroding our ability to truly tolerate—and respect—our neighbors.
But every person has intrinsic dignity and deserves to voice their opinions without fear of unjust punishment. And we are a better and stronger nation when we allow diversity of thought to flourish. Throughout history, dissenting viewpoints have often exposed truth and brought about greater justice.
Without a commitment to diversity of opinion, on the other hand, individuals are demonized for their speech. Take Chike Uzuegbunam for example, a student at Georgia Gwinnett College who was prohibited from sharing his faith on campus—even after receiving permission to do so. His case is now before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Help Pass on the Legacy of Philadelphia
A total of 39 men representing 13 colonies endorsed and signed the Constitution in September 1787. But in the preceding months, they disagreed fiercely with each other over provisions in the document.
The American people were still wrestling with the aftermath of the American Revolution, and the signing delegates often had opposing viewpoints on proper governance and the separation of powers within the federal government. Tensions were high. The country was at stake. Yet, as an alliance, they chose to commit to freedom.
The Founding Fathers gave us a legacy which countless diverse individuals after them—including you and me—benefit from every day.
Although the Philadelphia Statement is just a starting point, change begins here. Together, let’s end the ideological blacklisting and recommit to embracing true diversity. You can help pass on that freedom by signing the statement today.
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