Press Releases

Jun 25, 2015

Newseum Institute Receives Grant From The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations to Develop Religious Liberty Education Program

Initiative Will Offer Innovative Blended Learning Courses to Religious Leaders of Many Faiths

WASHINGTON — Today, the Religious Freedom Center of the Newseum Institute announced it has been awarded a $200,000 grant from The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations to support the launch of its “Religious Leadership in a Pluralistic Democracy” initiative, the nation’s first blended learning curriculum designed to educate emerging and current religious leaders about the principles of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Beginning in spring 2016, the 75-student program will be taught through a combination of online video courses, forums and on-site workshops at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

“We’re grateful to The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations for their generous support, which lends a significant level of credibility to this initiative and affirms our shared commitment to promote understanding across differences in faith and belief,” said Dr. Charles Haynes, vice president of the Newseum Institute and executive director of the Religious Freedom Center. “Participants will study the place of religion in public life under the First Amendment, and explore how best to work together to sustain America’s bold experiment in living with our deepest differences.”

The inaugural class will be composed of adult learners who are enrolled in an accredited graduate theological program or who currently are serving a religious community. Students who complete the four courses in the program will earn a Certificate of Religion in Public Life.

“We are proud to support the work of the Religious Freedom Center of the Newseum Institute,” said Cheryl Tupper, vice president for programs, religion and health care at The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations. “The blended learning curriculum on religious freedom and religion in American public life is poised to equip leaders with an understanding of the First Amendment so that they can foster mutual respect for religious beliefs and traditions.”

A curriculum designed by a team of First Amendment and religious studies scholars led by Dr. Haynes will engage students in core questions about the significance and meaning of religious liberty in American history and society. Classes include “Foundations of Religious Freedom in the United States,” “The Human Right to Freedom of Religion or Belief,” “Religious Liberty and Contemporary American Public Life” and “Religion and News Media.”

For more information about the education initiative for religious leaders, visit

About the Freedom Forum Institute

The Freedom Forum Institute is the education and outreach partner of the Freedom Forum and the Newseum. The Institute includes the First Amendment Center, the Religious Freedom Center, the Newseum’s education department and diversity and inclusion programs. The Freedom Forum Institute’s affiliate organizations include the Al Neuharth Media Center at the University of South Dakota; the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics at the University of Mississippi; and the John Seigenthaler Center at Vanderbilt University. The Freedom Forum Institute is a 501(c)(3) public charity funded by generous individuals, corporations and foundations, including its principal funder, the Freedom Forum.

About the Religious Freedom Center of the Newseum Institute

The Religious Freedom Center of the Newseum Institute is a nonpartisan national initiative focused on educating the American public about the religious liberty principles of the First Amendment. Reorganized in 2010 to expand on religious liberty initiatives begun by the First Amendment Center in 1994, the Religious Freedom Center has sponsored numerous public programs at the Newseum, developed partnerships with national and international organizations, and convened a broad range of religious and civil liberties groups. The Religious Freedom Center carries out the mission by educating thought leaders, promoting civil dialogue, engaging the public, transforming schools and publishing religious liberty scholarship.

Press Contacts

Jonathan Thompson
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