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Breaking Through the Apathy: First Liberty’s Newest Millennial Initiative is a Success

This November, First Liberty Institute launched its first ever Fellowship dedicated to educating Millennials on America’s first freedom, and teaching them how to be advocates on their campuses. Here’s one fellow’s take.

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December 2, 2016

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By Christine Roe

First Liberty Institute launched its first ever First Liberty Fellowship in Washington, D.C. As one of the six Fellows, I had the opportunity to spend four days in the nation’s capitol learning more about religious liberty and our nation’s founding.

As an intern for First Liberty Institute this summer I had already been immersed in the fight for religious freedom. Going into the Fellowship, I had a few expectations, and I am happy to say that the program surpassed them all. Not only was I taught about our nation’s history and the important role religion played in shaping our country, I learned from several guest lecturers about the role religion plays in everyone’s lives, whether they consider themselves religious or not.

The Fellowship was much more than just a week of lectures, it was a full immersion into the history of our founding, one I never expected to experience for myself. First Liberty Institute took us on tours of the National Archives, the Capitol Building, and the Supreme Court, where we even had the opportunity to meet Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

One of the greatest experiences was the opportunity to meet some of First Liberty’s clients, and talk in person with these extraordinary individuals who have taken the brave step to stand up for religious freedom. During the trip we had the honor to meet Joe Kennedy, a high school football coach who was fired for praying and giving thanks for his players; and Oscar Rodriguez Jr., a decorated Air Force veteran who was removed from a retirement ceremony for planning to mention God in a flag folding ceremony. It was truly inspiring to meet the individuals who are willing to sacrifice much to protect our first freedom.

MORE THAN JUST A TRIP

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Upon leaving, I asked the other Fellows for their thoughts on the trip, and I could not agree more with what they said.

Racheal Carlyon from College of the Ozarks in Missouri said, “My first trip to Washington, D.C. will stay with me forever. I cannot wait to apply all the knowledge I learned and tell all the stories I heard for the promotion and advocacy for religious liberty.”

Aidan Johnston from George Washington University in Washington, D.C. said, “For me, the Fellowship was an awakening to the threat to religious liberty posed by modern American pop culture.”

Prasanth Venigalla from Adelphi University in New York, said, “I really enjoyed being part of the First Liberty Fellowship. It was an eye-opening experience to see all the assaults on religious liberty taking place around our nation, and how we as the next generation can be effective advocates for our first freedom in the public square.”

Katarina Bradford from Hillsdale College said, “The main thing that I took away from the First Liberty Fellowship was gratitude and hope. It was reassuring to meet people in all areas of politics, from lawyers, to congressmen, to reporters, to Supreme Court justices, who are dedicated to preserving freedom of thought in our nation, especially during a time when it seems to be continually constrained.

And Shayne Cline from Texas Christian University said, “My experience with the First Liberty Fellowship program showed me how important our cause is and what’s at stake. It showed me that resources and support must continue to grow in order to defend religious freedom.”

AT A CROSSROADS: “IT IS UP TO OUR GENERATION”

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Religious liberty is truly at a crossroads and it is up to our generation to make sure it lasts. My generation grew up learning about the great American experiment, learning about how unique the United States is, and to many, believing the freedoms we enjoy now are permanent. The thought of living in an America without those freedoms is unimaginable. However, it is this attitude that could lose those rights. If we do not realize that our freedoms are in danger and do not take the time to educate others about them, we run the risk of losing them altogether.

First Liberty Institute went above and beyond in organizing the Fellowship program. They have truly inspired us to go out and make a difference in our communities for religious freedom by using each of our talents. It is because of groups like First Liberty Institute and the individuals I met this week that I have hope and faith that our first freedom will continue to be protected for generations to come.

First Liberty Institute’s Fellowship is exactly what we need to combat the apathy that plagues our fellow citizens. For every one of us that attended this past week, the Fellowship will forever hold a special place in our hearts and we cannot thank First Liberty Institute, or First Liberty’s supporters, enough for their incredible generosity that made this fellowship possible. It was without a doubt a busy week, but it was well worth it.

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