President of the Religious Freedom Institute (RFI) Thomas Farr offered remarks today at an event held at United Nations headquarters titled, “International Religious Freedom: A New Era for Advocacy in Response to a New Age of Challenges and Threats.”
A religious school strives to pass on its faith through the spiritual and educational formation of children. Religious schools in the United States are privately-funded alternatives to public schools and aim to inculcate the values of their religion. It should be no surprise that in many of these schools, staff and students are expected to reflect those values in belief and behavior.
On February 12, the Religious Freedom Institute (RFI) and The Bruderhof co-sponsored a multi-part forum commemorating the atrocity and the testimony of immeasurable courage and faithfulness it occasioned. The event included a lengthy discussion between Mosebach and RFI Executive Director Kent Hill about his 2018 book, The 21: A Journey into the Land of Coptic Martyrs. A series of speakers and a panel discussion followed, each unpacking the broader social, political, and moral implications of what ISIS did, how these 21 young men responded, and the need for advancing religious freedom in the Middle East and around the world.
The Religious Freedom Institute (RFI) held an Open House Wednesday to mark the relocation of its Washington, D.C. office to Capitol Hill at 316 Pennsylvania Ave, SE, Suite 501. The occasion gathered RFI leadership and staff with 200 friends and colleagues from government, business, media, higher education, and the NGO community.
The amicus brief calls for the reversal of the Fourth Circuit’s decision, arguing that “the textually- and historically compelled solution to Establishment Clause concerns is not the excising of religious expression from State speech and grounds, but the encouragement of more diverse religious expression.”
The internet promises both greater freedom and greater repression. It gives a chance of increased expression to millions of people whose views and voices have been and could still be silenced by politically repressive regimes or monopolistic media. But, it can also give those same repressive governments and media empires control so that they can erase contrary views.
Recent events suggest that currently the push for greater control is winning, sometimes abetted by major tech companies.
Contributors to this Cornerstone Forum series were asked to consider both the historical significance of recent developments in Ukraine, but also the practical implications for religious communities of the latest developments. What is the role religious communities can play in seeking to bring an end to the conflict and secure fundamental rights and freedoms, including religious freedom within a healthy denominationalism? What steps should policy makers take to promote peace and advance fundamental rights and freedoms for all in Ukraine.
Twenty years ago, the 105th Congress passed the landscape-changing International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (IRFA). The Law established within the State Department an Office of International Religious Freedom, created the position of Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom as the principal diplomat to advance religious freedom in U.S. foreign policy, and established the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. Today, the mechanisms created by that bill continue to shape U.S. foreign policy objectives promoting religious freedom for all people in all nations.
On November 9th, over 250 scholars and advocates of religious freedom, some of whom have suffered persecution for their faith, gathered in Washington, D.C. for a day-long conference to commemorate the 20th anniversary of IRFA.
Religious freedom advocates face this predicament: We fervently believe that our cause fosters justice and human dignity yet find that these qualities alone do little to persuade officials in the State Department, Defense Department, National Security Council, or the White House to make promoting religious freedom a high priority. In Washington, only the national interest talks.
Well, a formidable case that religious freedom affects our interests now emerges in a book by political scientist Nilay Saiya, Weapon of Peace: How Religious Liberty Combats Terrorism, published this year by Cambridge University Press. (Full disclosure: I was the adviser of Saiya’s doctoral dissertation, on which the book is based). Saiya’s thesis is simple: when governments violate the religious freedom of their citizens, they foment religious terrorism.
On October 16, Malaysian Member of Parliament, P. Kasthuriraani urged Malaysia to sign and ratify the United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief.
The current assault on religion in China under President Xi Jinping is the most comprehensive attempt to manipulate and control religious communities since the Cultural Revolution. Xi’s policy should be seen as a particularly troubling aspect of the global crisis in religious freedom, one in which over three-quarters of the world’s people live in nations where religion is highly, or very highly, restricted. China is one of those nations. - Thomas Farr, President, Religious Freedom Institute
As Dr. Farr makes clear in his testimony, the situation is dire for China’s Muslim Uighers, Tibetan Budhhists, and Christians both Catholic and Protestant. Xi’s policy presents a major challenge to U.S. international religious freedom policy, which has to date had little impact in China. It is time to try a different approach.
Xinjiang Province of Western China represent a harrowing example of how government fears, in this case of separatism, terrorism, and religious extremism, can lead to disastrous religious restrictions justified as security measures but which ultimately act to the detriment of both the state and its citizens.
On the margins of the first-ever Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, the Religious Freedom Institute is hosting four events that explore various aspects of religious freedom and will equip and inform participants in the effort to advance religious freedom.
That Prime Minister Theresa May has seen fit to establish the special envoy role and to appoint Lord Ahmad to it demonstrates not only the importance that the British government gives to advancing international religious freedom within its foreign policy, but I would argue to the principle of freedom of religion generally as a fundamental freedom -a freedom with deep roots in the Anglo-American political tradition.
Wednesday July 11 concluded the Religious Freedom Institute’s 2018 Summer Speaker Series with “An Insider’s Look at Diplomacy and Religious Freedom.” Father Deacon Andrew Bennett, RFI Senior Fellow and former Canadian Ambassador for Religious Freedom, drew from his experience and faith to lead the discussion.
Our engagement with these professionals demonstrated the intense interest many Muslim leaders in the Middle East and North Africa have in the principles of freedom. They want to understand how freedom for all may be respected in society and protected in law without undermining Islamic beliefs and practice. We hope we persuaded some of our visitors that that this is indeed possible.
On Wednesday, June 20, the Religious Freedom Institute continued its 2018 Summer Speaker Series with a soccer-oriented discussion, “Exorcisms and Exercise, Crosses and Cross Passes: What Religious Freedom Has to Do with the World Cup”. The event was led by Dr. Jennifer Bryson Director of RFI’s Islam and Religious Freedom Action Team.
In an April episode of the podcast “Think Biblically”, hosts Scott Rae and Sean McDowell from Biola University spoke with Former Solicitor General of the United States and Federal Judge Ken Starr and RFI President and Former Diplomat Tom Farr on the current challenges to religious freedom in the US and abroad.