December 29, 2020

Manisha Sunil, West End Strategy Team; Phone: 202-417-0171

Rabbi Jack Moline: Federal Commemoration of Thomas Becket’s Martyrdom “deeply concerning” to Religious Freedom Advocates

WASHINGTON — On Monday, President Trump issued an executive order commemorating the martyrdom of Saint Thomas Becket and urging its observance in schools and churches. In response, Rabbi Jack Moline, president of Interfaith Alliance, released the following statement:

The proclamation issued by President Trump commemorating the martyrdom of Saint Thomas Becket should be deeply concerning to any American who holds dear the religious freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment. It is yet another example of this administration tarnishing the basic tenets of our democracy by conflating American identity with Christian identity.

Religious freedom in the United States does not recognize the predominance of belief over law; indeed, it is the law that protects personal belief, not the other way around. While Thomas Becket was indeed a renown historical figure, to claim religious freedom in America was ‘bought with the blood of martyrs’ is an attempt to paint American history as Christian history. There are no parallels between the United States, founded on the principles of equality and human rights, and the claims of monarchs, who were presumed to be figures of religious authority.

Of course, individual Americans and their faith communities may celebrate their personal heroes – religious or otherwise – including Saint Thomas Becket. But when the commemoration of religious martyrdom comes at the direction of the president, and its observance is encouraged within our public schools, there is clear cause for concern.

If you are interested in speaking further with Rabbi Moline, please contact Manisha Sunil at (202) 417-0171 or


Interfaith Alliance is a network of people of diverse faiths and beliefs from across the country working together to build a resilient democracy and fulfill America’s promise of religious freedom and civil rights not just for some, but for all. We mobilize powerful coalitions to challenge Christian nationalism and religious extremism, while fostering a better understanding of the healthy boundaries between religion and government. We advocate at all levels of government for an equitable and just America where the freedoms of belief and religious practice are protected, and where all persons are treated with dignity and have the opportunity to thrive. For more information visit