Press Release

The United States Issues a Global Call to Protect Religious Freedom Before the UN

The United States Issues a Global Call to  Protect Religious Freedom Before the UN

September 23, 2019 Washington, D.C. — In a historic event at the UN, the United States issued a global call to protect religious freedom. During his address, President Donald J. Trump urged greater international support for ongoing religious freedom efforts to an audience of government dignitaries, including UN Secretary General António Guterres, and hundreds of religious, NGO, and business leaders.

Press Release: RFI Applauds Long-overdue Senate Vote to Confirm Robert Destro as Top Human Rights Official at State Department

Press Release:  RFI Applauds Long-overdue Senate Vote to Confirm Robert Destro as Top Human Rights Official at State Department

September 18, 2019, Washington, D.C. – The Religious Freedom Institute (RFI) applauds today’s long-overdue Senate vote to confirm Robert Destro as Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. Destro has served as a law professor at The Catholic University of America’s Columbus School of Law for 37 years and is the founding Director of its Interdisciplinary Program in Law & Religion.

Press Release: The Religious Freedom Institute Observes the UN’s First International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief

Press Release: The Religious Freedom Institute Observes the UN’s First International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief

August 22, 2019, Washington, D.C. – The Religious Freedom Institute (RFI) today observes the UN’s inaugural International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief. Earlier this year, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming this day of commemoration in response to the alarming rise in persecution of religious persons and communities around the world. 

Press Release: RFI Announces Groundbreaking Report, “Surveying the Landscape of International Religious Freedom Policy”

Press Release: RFI Announces Groundbreaking Report,  “Surveying the Landscape of International Religious Freedom Policy”

July 15, 2019, Washington, D.C. — The Religious Freedom Institute (RFI) today officially releases a first-of-its kind report titled, “Surveying the Landscape of International Religious Freedom Policy.”

To commemorate the report’s release, RFI is holding a public event today at the National Press Club from 1:30-2:00 PM.

Press Release: Religious Freedom Institute Announces Executive Vice President and Additional Staff Changes

Press Release: Religious Freedom Institute Announces Executive Vice President and Additional Staff Changes

July 11, 2019, Washington, D.C. — The Religious Freedom Institute (RFI) continues to grow and make important organizational changes to become even more well-positioned to advance religious freedom for everyone, everywhere. 

Dr. Eric Patterson recently joined RFI as its Executive Vice President. He comes to RFI from the Robertson School of Government at Regent University in Virginia Beach, Virginia where he was dean and tenured full professor.

Press Release: RFI Applauds Collapse of California Senate Bill 360

Press Release: RFI Applauds Collapse of California Senate Bill 360

July 10, 2019, Washington, D.C. — RFI applauds the collapse of California Senate Bill (SB) 360, a bill that would have required Catholic clergy to violate the seal of confession. Such a mandate would have deprived the Catholic Church of its right to the free exercise of religion by encroaching upon a core tenet of its sacramental theology. 

Alarmed by the bill’s provisions, the Religious Freedom Institute (RFI) led a number of allies in bringing  together a diverse coalition of religious leaders to issue an “Interfaith Statement on California Senate Bill 360 as a Threat to Religious Freedom.”

Press Release: State Department Elevates Religious Freedom and Highlights Global Challenges in Annual International Religious Freedom Report

Press Release: State Department Elevates Religious Freedom and Highlights Global Challenges in Annual International Religious Freedom Report

June 28, 2019, Washington, D.C.— The U.S. Department of State recently released its 2018 Report on International Religious Freedom highlighting the many threats to religious freedom globally, and the need to take action to protect this fundamental right for every person. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also announced the elevation of the Office of International Religious Freedom within the State Department. This announcement comes ahead of the second annual Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, July 16-18.

Press Release: RFI Welcomes Supreme Court’s Move to Restore Founder’s View of Establishment Clause

Press Release: RFI Welcomes Supreme Court’s Move to Restore Founder’s View of Establishment Clause

June 24, 2019, Washington, D.C. — The United States Supreme Court held on Thursday that the Bladensburg Cross, a forty-foot cross honoring World War I veterans on public land in Maryland, does not violate the Constitution’s prohibition of established religion.

The Court’s decision, issued in the case of American Legion v. American Humanist Association, relied on American tradition and history to hold that monuments with religious meaning on public land do not run afoul of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause so long as they follow the Founders’ tradition of “respect and tolerance for differing views, an honest endeavor to achieve inclusivity and nondiscrimination.”

Press Release: Religious Freedom Institute Awarded 3-Year Templeton Grant for Pathbreaking Research Initiative

Press Release: Religious Freedom Institute Awarded  3-Year Templeton Grant for Pathbreaking Research Initiative

The John Templeton Foundation has awarded a $1.7 million grant to the Religious Freedom Institute (RFI) to lead a first-of-its-kind international inquiry into the meaning and impact of institutional religious freedom.

RFI Denounces Sri Lanka Bombings

RFI Denounces Sri Lanka Bombings

April 23, 2019, Washington, D.C. — The Religious Freedom Institute (RFI) today denounced the horrific attacks on innocent people in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday. This series of coordinated bombings at three churches, four hotels, and a housing complex took nearly 300 lives.

RFI Condemns New Zealand Massacre as Religious Persecution

RFI Condemns New Zealand Massacre as Religious Persecution

“The mass shootings at the Al Noor and Linwood mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand represent the worst form of evil imaginable,” said Timothy Shah, head of RFI’s South and Southeast Asia Action Team. “This act of terrorism is an offense against human dignity and religious freedom. All ideologies that foster or sanction such acts must be condemned in the strongest possible terms.”

Press Release: Google Should Remove Indonesian Government App for Reporting Heresy

Last month the Religious Freedom Institute (RFI) sent a letter to Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, calling for the removal of “Smart Pakem,” an app available on the Google Play Store. The Indonesian government created the app to enable mobile phone users to report individuals suspected of “religious heresy.”

While Google has yet to respond to the letter, or remove the app, it recently joined Apple in “promising to investigate a Saudi app that lets men control women's travel,” according to a recent report. Google should treat Smart Pakem with the same degree of scrutiny.

Press Release: Religious Freedom Institute Moves D.C. Office to Capitol Hill

Press Release: Religious Freedom Institute Moves D.C. Office to Capitol Hill

The Religious Freedom Institute (RFI) has relocated its Washington, D.C. office to the heart of Capitol Hill. The new address is 316 Pennsylvania Ave, SE, Suite 501, Washington, D.C. 20003.

RFI commemorated its move to the historic National Capital Bank building on Pennsylvania Avenue with an open house Wednesday attended by 200 friends and colleagues from government, business, media, higher education, and the NGO community.

Press Release: U.S. State Department to Hold High-Level Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom for Second Year in a Row

The Religious Freedom Institute (RFI) welcomes the U.S. Department of State’s recent announcement that it will host a second consecutive Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom July 16-18, 2019.

“We are grateful for Secretary Pompeo’s commitment to advancing religious freedom around the world,” said Thomas Farr, President of RFI and founding Director of the State Department’s Office of International Religious Freedom.

Press Release: Diverse Group of Religious Leaders Reminds U.S. Senators: Religious Tests for Public Office Are Wrong, Unlawful

A group of leaders from across a broad spectrum of American religious life urged Senators to pledge their opposition to religious tests of any kind for nominees for public office.  

A letter, organized by the Religious Freedom Institute, was delivered to the Senate majority and minority leaders today, the day after the United States celebrated “Religious Freedom Day.”

Signatories included representatives from The Church of Jesus Christ Latter-Day Saints, Sikh, Muslim, Baha’is, Hindu, Jewish, Catholic, and Protestant traditions.

Press Release: RFI Report Highlights the Critical Need for Decisive Action to Provide Security and Support for Religious Minority Communities in Iraq

The Religious Freedom Institute (RFI) today issued a report, “Hanging by a Thread: Christians and Other Religious Minorities Are Fading into History on the Nineveh Plains.”

The report, based on a trip to Iraq’s Nineveh Plains last month, outlines the dire conditions in northern Iraq for Christians, Yazidis, and other religious minorities. The report underscores the profound security and economic challenges religious minorities face in Sinjar and the Nineveh Plains and points to a looming threat to both Iraqi and American security.

Press Release: Congress Takes Action to Support Minorities in Iraq and Syria and Hold ISIS Accountable

Four years after ISIS laid siege to ethnic and religious minority communities in Iraq and Syria, the U.S. Congress voted unanimously late today to fund humanitarian, stabilization, and recovery assistance for victims of genocide. The bipartisan legislation will go to the President’s desk for signing before the end of the year.

Press Release: RFI Welcomes “Long Overdue” Decision by Pakistan Supreme Court to Vacate Asia Bibi’s Death Sentence

The Religious Freedom Institute (RFI) welcomes the decision by Pakistan’s Supreme Court to vacate the conviction and death sentence of a Christian woman convicted of blasphemy. The woman, Asia Bibi, was convicted in 2010 of insulting the Prophet of Islam during an argument with her neighbors.

The Rohingya Crisis: The Shameful Global Response to Genocide and the Assault on Religious Freedom

On August 25, 2017, a wave of violence was unleashed against the Rohingya people in Rakhine state, Burma. In the nearly one year since those attacks the global response to this crisis has been shameful. In a new report, The Rohingya Crisis: The Shameful Global Response to Genocide and the Assault on Religious Freedom, the Religious Freedom Institute highlights this crisis and puts forward a call to action.

Unprecedented Ministerial Tees Up the Crisis and the Solutions: Now the Work Begins

The Religious Freedom Institute applauds the successful conclusion of the three-day Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, hosted by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback. The remarkable gathering of government and civil society representatives from across the world drove home the brutal nature of international religious persecution, and was marked by historic multilateral commitments to do more to stop it.