Middle East Action Team

Nowhere are the threats to religious communities more visible than in the Middle East. The absence of religious freedom and government protections have led to genocide of religious minorities and massive displacement across much of the region. For any lasting peace to be secured on a regional or even local level, religious freedom is crucial. The ability to live together with those of another faith, or even who share a different interpretation of your own is necessary. We are working to address the ideas that are driving violence and strengthen communities to preserve pluralism where it is at risk.

Director: Jeremy Barker
Members: Kent Hill, David Trimble

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The Middle East File is a weekly email from the Religious Freedom Institute's Middle East Action Team which shares content on key themes relevant to advancing religious freedom in the Middle East.

It contains excerpts of what we are reading, watching, and listening to regarding the ideas, policies, and conditions on the ground shaping religious freedom, and religious persecution, in the region. Alongside the content we share, we provide brief commentary on why it matters or additional links to more resources. The Middle East File informs and educates readers, enabling them to go beyond the headlines and better understand the region.

Previous editions of the Middle East File:

From the RFI Blog


From Cornerstone Forum

Jeremy P. Barker: Director, Middle East Action Team

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Jeremy P. Barker serves as Senior Program Officer and Director of the Middle East Action Team for the Religious Freedom Institute. He assists with the programmatic objectives of both the Middle East and International Religious Freedom Policy Action Teams including research, writing, and advocacy with a particular focus on the Middle East and provides program development and management support for all of RFI’s action teams. He has lived or worked in the Middle East since 2010, including multiple years in Turkey and Northern Iraq. He has worked in rights-based relief, development, and advocacy across the region from Iraq and Turkey to Egypt and Morocco with a particular focus on issues of religious persecution and post-conflict justice and accountability.

He holds a B.A. in History and M.A. degrees in Cross-Cultural Studies and International Relations.

Kent Hill: Senior Fellow for Eurasia, Middle East, and Islam

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Kent Hill serves as Senior Fellow for Eurasia, Middle East, and Islam at the Religious Freedom Institute, where he originally joined as Executive Director in September 2016. For the previous six years, he was Senior Vice President at World Vision, U.S., the founding and biggest national office within World Vision International -- one of the largest faith-based relief and development organizations in the world.

Previously Hill served for two years as Vice President of the John Templeton Foundation, eight years as Assistant Administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), where he was responsible for U.S. foreign assistance to the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, and, subsequently, Hill was in charge of all USAID health programs worldwide. Earlier in his career, Dr. Hill was President of Eastern Nazarene College (Quincy, MA) for nine years, President of the Institute on Religion and Democracy for six years, and Associate Professor of History at Seattle Pacific University for six years. His Ph.D. is from the University of Washington and he has published a book on religion in the Soviet Union.

David Trimble: Senior Fellow and Director, Center for Religious Freedom Education


After serving as a principal and Of Counsel at the leading D.C. firm of Van Scoyoc Associates for many years, Mr. Trimble now leads the Religious Freedom Institute’s nationwide and international initiatives in secondary and higher education. Within that context, he brings a wealth of experience to the academy and civil society in international affairs, foreign policy, higher education, and shaping domestic and international public policy. With a degree in law, expert knowledge from working with the executive and legislative branches of the federal government at the highest levels, plus years of teaching religion at the graduate level, Mr. Trimble understands the vitally important role of education to stable societies and the myriad threats that challenge both academic and religious freedom.

Throughout his career, Mr. Trimble has focused on the intersection between religion and policy. He is recognized in the U.S. and abroad for his international religious freedom advocacy on behalf of ethnic and religious minorities and for his acute knowledge of legislative process. Mr. Trimble’s leadership at the RFI’s Center for Religious Freedom Education is based on classroom expertise, launching seminal programs in education, and driving new policies and innovation. Under his leadership, the Center is committed to supporting the free exercise of religious freedom for all through education with a voice that informs tomorrow’s young leaders and shapes sound policies for a more civil America.

Mr. Trimble holds a Juris Doctorate from Texas A&M University School of Law, a Master of Divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a Bachelor of Arts from Campbellsville University. In addition, Mr. Trimble has completed post-graduate studies at both Southwestern and Baylor University.