North America Action Team

The first sixteen words of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution express the American commitment to religious freedom. Today, the understanding of what religious freedom is and why it matters has largely been lost. We are working to promote a robust understanding of religious freedom and the many positive ways that religion makes tangible and verifiable contributions to public life and the common good. 

Director: Fr. Dcn. Andrew Bennett

Projects: The American Charter of Freedom of Religion and Conscience

The American Charter project is committed to rebuilding America's historical commitment to freedom of religion and conscience and generating a coalition of support for this fundamental human right. 

The American Charter project is a joint-initiative of the Religious Freedom Institute and Baylor University's Institute for the Study of Religion. 

To learn more about the American Charter project visit:

Director: Fr. Dcn. Andrew Bennett

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The Rev. Dr. Andrew P.W. Bennett serves as Senior Fellow and Director of the North America Action Team of the Religious Freedom Institute. He is a Ukrainian Greek-Catholic deacon of the Eparchy of Toronto and Eastern Canada. Fr. Deacon Andrew also serves as Senior Fellow at Cardus, Canada’s faith-based think-tank, where he is Programme Director of Cardus Law which looks at the role of law in society with a particular focus on religious freedom in Canada. Fr. Deacon And­­rew previously served in the Canadian foreign service as Canada's first Ambassador for Religious Freedom and Head of the Office of Religious Freedom from 2013 to 2016 during which time he led in defending and championing religious freedom internationally as a core element of Canada's principled foreign policy. He remains a regular and active commentator on religious freedom in Canada and abroad. Fr. Deacon Andrew’s ambassadorial appointment was the culmination of a 14-year career in the Canadian civil service. He holds a B.A. Hons. in History (Dalhousie), an M.A. in History (McGill), and a Ph.D. in Politics (Edinburgh).

Intern: Renée Waller

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Renée Waller is an intern for RFI’s North America Action Team and Center for Religious Freedom Education. Renée is a rising senior studying Political Science and History at Biola University, while also studying Great Books at the Torrey Honors Institute. Her current academic interests lie in the family unit, the role of traditions and habits, and the Age of Enlightenment. After graduation, Renée is currently interested in either pursuing higher education or working as a speechwriter in a government office. Whatever she does, Renée hopes to use her love for philosophy, theology, and history to advance truth and make persuasive arguments for human flourishing. 

Intern: Ian Spears


Ian Spears is an intern working for RFI’s North America Action Team and the Center for Religious Freedom Education. Ian is rising senior of the Torrey Honors Institute at Biola University. A political science major and international relations minor, Ian is interested in understanding how certain philosophical principles that served as the foundation for the American Founding can be used for the world today. After graduation, Ian plans to continue to pursue some form of higher education.