"As we proudly enter a period of celebrating our Bicentennial of independence as a nation, we must remember that our great traditions of freedom did not suddenly start in 1776. For more than two centuries before the Liberty Bell rang, the processes of conflict and compromise were working on this great new continent, and the impassioned extremes of religious and political rivalry were tested and were found wanting.
"In the end, our Founding Fathers sought to establish a new order of society embodying the principles of tolerance and freedom, of unity in diversity, of justice with charity.
"So, the first amendment was written to ensure the perpetuation of the hard-learned lessons from our colonial history that religious belief can neither be coerced nor suppressed by government; that a free people must retain the right to hear, the right to speak, the right to publish and to read, and the right to come together--all of which had been denied the early American settlers at one time or another."
-- Remarks at the Annual Congressional Breakfast of the National Religious Broadcasters, 28 January 1975