The Religious Freedom Institute (RFI) will become the world’s most influential hub for the advancement of religious freedom and the reduction of religious persecution, especially the violent religious extremism that threatens millions of innocent people.
Unlike any other organization in the field today, the Religious Freedom Institute will:
- Advance compelling arguments for religious freedom, drawing on the empirical and theoretical research of Georgetown’s Religious Freedom Research Project.
- Transform these arguments into action plans that will empower leaders in religion, politics, civil society, the academy, and the media to defend and advance religious freedom.
The threat to religious freedom is, at its heart, both spiritual and intellectual. It is manifested in culture, politics, and law. Accordingly, the antidote in any given society must be to engage the skeptics, whether they are religious or secular, civic or political, with powerful and persuasive arguments that go to the root of their objections. A central goal will be to convince those skeptics that religious freedom can help achieve their own goals, that is, that great goods—social, political, economic, and spiritual—flow to all people when the religious freedom of all people is respected in law and culture.
- Inspire and drive long-term cultural transformation in order to create the conditions necessary to sustain multi-religious, multi-ethnic, pluralistic societies.
Outside the West, achieving this ambitious goal will require a systematic effort to discover and nurture those elements in the world’s religions and cultures that can affirm the inherent dignity and freedom of human beings.
Inside the West, especially in the United States, cultural and political transformation will actually be a form of cultural reclamation, the rediscovery of a central liberal truth: Religious freedom for all is indispensable for a healthy democracy.
- Galvanize support for victims of religious persecution—both short-term assistance as well as long-term support—enabling them whenever possible to return to their homelands and to contribute to the construction of societies characterized by pluralism and religious freedom.
- Catalyze, encourage, and empower groups throughout the world who are already concerned about religious freedom, or those who are open to arguments that religious freedom can serve their own spiritual, intellectual, cultural, and political interests. The RFI will do what is not being done, while at the same time acting as a “force multiplier” for those who are already doing effective work or are capable of doing so.
- Create a new generation of emerging leaders to be informed defenders of religious freedom by developing high school and university curricula, conducting training sessions, providing internships, funding dissertation fellowships to graduate students working on religious freedom, and providing publishing outlets and networking opportunities for young, untenured faculty across disciplines.