George Washington’s Mount Vernon will host a special screening of the newly-produced educational film, George Washington and the Pursuit of Religious Freedom on July 28, 2022 at The Jane Pickens Theater and Event Center

Filmed largely in Newport in November 2021, this short film follows the establishment of religious freedom in America and George Washington’s precedent-setting letter to the Newport Touro Synagogue Congregation. This letter has tremendous historical significance in terms of reinforcing the fundamental ideal of religious liberty in America.

The screening will be followed by an expert panel conversation with Dr. Kevin Butterfield, Executive Director of the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington at Mount Vernon, and Dr. Christopher Grasso, Professor of History at Brown University. Butterfield and Grasso will discuss George Washington’s legacy, the role that the Newport Touro Synagogue played in securing the right to worship, and why this freedom remains as crucial today as it was at the time of the nation’s founding.

The screening and conversation will be held on Thursday, July 28, 2022, at 5:30 PM ET. Doors open at 5:00 PM ET.

Tracing the origins of our freedom of religion back to the settlers who came to America’s colonies to escape religious persecution in Europe, George Washington and the Pursuit of Religious Freedom follows the establishment of one of our most cherished rights from the founding through George Washington’s historic and precedent-setting letter to the Touro Synagogue congregation.

General admission tickets are available here. Additional screenings are planned for other cities across the nation. Sign up here for updates.

George Washington and the Pursuit of Religious Freedom is presented thanks to the generosity of Irving and Nancy Chase. Produced by the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, the film is intended to be used in classrooms across the nation to foster a deep understanding of the legacy and importance of religious freedom in America, George Washington’s legacy in cementing religious liberties, and the role the oldest U.S. synagogue played in the freedom to worship. 

Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington, is owned and maintained by the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, the oldest national historic preservation organization in the United States. The estate is open to visitors and includes a Mansion, a museum and education center, gardens, tombs, a working farm, a functioning distillery and gristmill. It also includes the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington. 

Ryan Belmore is the Publisher of What'sUpNewp. 
Belmore has been involved with What’sUpNewp since shortly after its launch in 2012, proudly leading it to be named Best Local News Blog in Rhode Island by Rhode Island Monthly readers in 2018, 2019, and 2020 and an honorable mention in the Common Good Awards in 2021.

Born and raised in Rhode Island, Belmore graduated from Coventry High School and the Community College of Rhode Island. In addition to living in Newport for 10 years, he has lived in Portsmouth, Coventry, Providence, Smithfield, Burrillville, and East Greenwich.

Belmore currently serves as Vice President of the Board Of Directors for Fort Adams Trust and on the Board of Directors for Potter League For Animals. He previously served on the Board of Lucy's Hearth and the Arts & Cultural Alliance for Newport County.

Belmore and his wife, Jen, currently live in Alexandria, Virginia, a move they made in 2021. Read more about that here -

Belmore visits Newport every couple of weeks to support the 12+ paid contributors What'sUpNewp has on the ground across Rhode Island, a place he called home for 39 years.

Belmore is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers, Society of Professional Journalists, and the North American Snowsports Journalists Association.

In 2020, Belmore was named Member of the Year by LION and won the Arts & Cultural Alliance of Newport County's Dominque Award.
Belmore can be contacted at and 401-662-1653.