Speech and Tolerance

President Obama issued a defense of free speech and religious tolerance during a speech at the United Nations in New York on Sept. 25. Acknowledging that the esteem in which free speech is held in the United States is not universally shared, Obama argued that restrictions on speech can be used to suppress religion and that in protecting free speech, even blasphemy must be tolerated. He said that objecting to expressions of religious intolerance against one’s own religion required the rejection of such expressions against the faiths of others. He called violence never a legitimate reaction to speech, however offensive. The president cited U.S. religious diversity in making his case for tolerance abroad, offering it as a model for pluralism and harmony. He warned that religious intolerance and extremism could still derail the course of democratic movements sweeping the Arab world.

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

This is not a country at ease with itself, if it ever were. The United Kingdom continues to display more and more intolerance and anger.
David StewartFebruary 24, 2017

On St. Patrick’s Day, we celebrate our Irish heritage and our good fortune to be Americans.

George J. MitchellFebruary 24, 2017
“The Catholic Church stands in love with the Jewish community in the current face of anti-Semitism.”
Michael O'LoughlinFebruary 24, 2017
Addressing 90 experts from many countries, Francis said that “all people have a right to safe drinking water.”
Gerard O'ConnellFebruary 24, 2017