Lesko's work put her on ARFP's radar along with other lawmakers working in the religious freedom realm in their respective states who created the initial nine caucuses. But successfully fighting for the cause is just one quality ARFP is looking for. The program is also identifying legislators who have set the proper tone for the debate and are respectiful to religious minorities in upholding their rights.
"The most important thing that can be done is to help diffuse the polarized rhetoric about religious freedom," said Brian Walsh, ARFP's executive director.
He explained that the national debate has been inflamed with terms such as "war on religion" and "culture wars" that force both sides to retrench and fight it out rather respect each other's posititions and work to resolve their differences.
"If the state caucuses can help set the tone and educate Americans on principles of religious freedom and how they are productive and useful to our religious pluralism then it can be helpful to members of Congress to see that Americans recognize the nuances of religious freedom and are willing to stand up for it," Walsh said.
In addition to being a resource center and clearinghouse of information on religious liberty for state lawmakers, the American Religious Freedom Program says it will work with a broad range of legislators, religious leaders and other coalition members to help form additional caucuses and produce state-specific educational materials on religious freedom.
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