In an article appearing at The Catholic Thing, Andrew Bennett, Director of the Religious Freedom Institute’s North America Action Team, commented on a law recently enacted by the Québec government titled, Bill 21: An Act Respecting the Laicity of the State. The law prohibits the “wearing of religious symbols by public servants when they are exercising their functions.”
August 3, 2019 marks five years since ISIS militants attacked the Yazidi community on Sinjar Mountain and across Iraq’s Nineveh Plain. Thousands were killed in those attacks, nearly 7,000 women and girls were taken hostage, and more than 500,000 were displaced.
Now five years on the situation remains dire.
Paul Marshall, Wilson Professor of Religious Freedom at Baylor University and Senior Fellow with the Religious Freedom Institute, writes at Religion Unplugged that “Peaceful, and even loving religious co-existence, does not require secularism or relativism, nor a belief that our differing beliefs do not matter.”
“For a society to be free, one litmus test would be to ask if it has ‘freedom of scripture,’” said The Religious Freedom Institute’s (RFI) Executive Vice President Eric Patterson. His remark, which came in the midst of a brief address at an event at the Museum of the Bible (MOTB), prompted immediate interest and conversation.
The Religious Freedom Institute hosted a Panel Discussion, "Faith Based Advocacy for the Common Good," at the University of Connecticut on April 25, 2019. This event was the first of a four-part initiative made possible by Islamic Relief USA that seeks to bring together different faith groups in conversation and common projects. Following the panel discussion, two participants, each from a different religious tradition, were awarded a gift card as an invitation to meet one another for coffee and then to write about the experience. What follows is one account of the conversation.
The second Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom was a major step forward in the fight against global religious persecution and, hopefully, in the advancement of its most durable antidote – religious freedom. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo, Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback, and their staffs deserve tremendous credit for convening this successful gathering. This Ministerial merits a permanent place on the U.S. Department of State’s calendar going forward, for this and future administrations.
As the Second Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom gets underway this week, RFI President Thomas Farr took a few moments to speak on the Don Kroah Show about the significance of this unprecedented gathering. After noting its scale – with more than one hundred foreign ministers represented and hundreds of NGOs participating – Farr explained why the Ministerial is needed and what it is intended to achieve.
In a recent article for The Catholic Thing, Ismail Royer, Director of RFI’s Islam and Religious Freedom Action Team, reflected on the Supreme Court’s June 20 decision in American Humanist Association v. American Legion, in which the Court ruled that “despite its inherent religious symbolism, the presence of the Peace Cross on public land [in Bladensburg, Maryland] did not imply government endorsement of Christianity…”
Reflecting on the legacy of the Treaty of Versailles at its 100th anniversary, Eric Patterson, Executive Vice President of the Religious Freedom Institute, highlights how, in at least a limited way, it advanced the religious freedom of average citizens.
In an article for Providence, Patterson briefly unpacks the history around this set of treaties that signaled the end of World War I.
In an article appearing at First Things, Thomas Farr, president of the Religious Freedom Institute, commented on the announcement of a “Commission on Unalienable Rights” at the U.S. Department of State.
On June 25th, 2019, RFI President Thomas Farr joined other prominent scholars and leaders in signing a letter to President Donald J. Trump expressing “serious concerns over the human rights violations and religious freedom abuses” in China.
Thomas F. Farr, RFI president, testified today before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission. Co-Chair Christopher H. Smith presided over the hearing titled, "Violations of the International Right to Freedom of Religion: Christians."
Everyone should welcome the Supreme Court’s holding in American Legion v. American Humanist Association that the Bladensburg Cross memorial does not violate the Constitution’s ban on a government establishment of religion. The American Humanist Association argued in error that the presence of the Cross on Maryland public land represented an unconstitutional establishment of religion. Such a view misses a fundamental First Amendment purpose: free exercise equality.
Christians around the world continue to suffer persecution for their faith in record numbers. Following a century when more Christians were martyred than in the previous twenty centuries combined, Christians continue to be killed, tortured, exiled, and to see their property destroyed from North Korea to Nigeria, China to Egypt, and India to Indonesia.
Under Caesar's Sword: Christians in Response to Persecution is an online course that explores the plight of Christians and challenges participants to respond in solidarity as Christian disciples.
On May 29, the Religious Freedom Institute convened a working group of scholars to launch its Freedom of Religious Institutions in Society (FORIS) Project, an initiative dedicated to examining institutional religious freedom in countries around the world and its relation to the common good in those societies. “Institutional religious freedom” refers to the freedom of religiously defined organizations to live out their beliefs in society. This includes not only houses of worship, but schools, universities, hospitals, newspapers, TV channels, adoption and foster agencies, welfare agencies, and a welter of other organizations contributing in their particular way both to their own communities and to the common good.
In an article in the most recent issue of Legatus Magazine, Thomas Farr, president of the Religious Freedom Institute, writes on the rise of religious persecution throughout the world and the decline of religious freedom in the West.
Farr insists that American Catholics should respond to these threats by exercising the freedoms guaranteed to them in the First Amendment and defending religious freedom for others. They should also, Farr continues, “Demand that [the U.S.] government’s foreign policy advance religious freedom for everyone.”
Farahnaz Ispahani, Senior Fellow with RFI’s South and Southeast Asia Action Team, writes in The Hindu that while Asia Bibi has been released, “her relocation to Canada does not reflect substantive change in the persecuted state of Pakistan’s religious minorities.”
For hundreds of individuals whose blasphemy cases remain pending for prosecution, “The Pakistani legal system offers little protection….and mere accusation is tantamount to punishment.”