Mayor Koldenhoven was awarded the Profiles in Courage Award in 2002 by the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation for the stance that he took to uphold religious freedom. Also honored at that ceremony in 2002 was UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.
As mayor of Palos Heights, Koldenhoven faced intense opposition from a city council and city residents that did not want to allow a group of Muslims to purchase a local church for the repurposing it into a mosque. His is a story of someone who stands up to religious intolerance on the basis of the First Amendment and Jesus' command to "love your neighbor." As a result of his political courage, he was selected to receive the Profiles in Courage award.
"Dean Koldenhoven's courageous stance, based on principle, gives us an example of what it means to live in community and have integrity of character," said Annalee Ward, director of the Lester and Michael Lester Wendt Center for Character Education which promotes lives of purpose and excellent moral character both on campus and in the community.
Ultimately, Mayor Koldenhoven was voted out of office. A career in politics was worth far less to him than upholding the principles of democracy and the values of neighborly love.
"Mayor Koldenhoven held firm to his principles with unwavering resolve and honored our history, his own deep faith, and our Bill of Rights. He showed us that the dangerous walls of religious intolerance must be torn down," said the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy in presenting the award.
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