Christianity and Freedom: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives

From Cairo and Damascus to Tehran and Beijing, religious freedom is under siege. Ironically, it is Christianity—a faith that contributed decisively to the rise of religious liberty—that now finds itself increasingly persecuted around the world.
In view of this global crisis, Georgetown University’s Religious Freedom Project hosted a two-day conference in Rome highlighting Christianity’s contributions to the understanding and practice of freedom for all people. The conference presented findings from a two-year study by dozens of scholars concerning Christianity’s contributions to freedom. More information about the Christianity and Freedom project is available on the Religious Freedom Project's website.

This event was co-sponsored by Baylor University’s Institute for Studies of Religion and made possible by a generous grant from the Historical Society's Religion and Innovation in Human Affairs Program. 

related | Conference Program (Il programma della conferenza [in italiano])  
related | Press Release
related | Presentation and research summaries


Friday, December 13

Welcoming Remarks
Thomas Farr
Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Christians and Religious Freedom

The Terrible Facts: What is Happening to the World’s Christians?
Kirsten Powers (Moderator)
Paul Marshall, Who Persecutes Christians—and Why?
Todd Johnson, How Many Christians Are Persecuted?
Mariz Tadros, Where and How are Christians Persecuted?: Spotlight on Egypt and the Middle East

The First Thousand Years: Christianity’s Early Relationship to Freedom (as Persecuted and as Persecutor)
Timothy Samuel Shah (Moderator), Theological and Secular Arguments for Religious Freedom in Early Christian Thought
Robert Louis Wilken, The Christian Roots of Religious Freedom
John Rist, Augustine on Religious Freedom and Religious Coercion
Elizabeth DePalma Digeser, Lactantius’ Doctrine of Religious Freedom and Its Influence on Constantine
Ian Christopher Levy, Tolerance and Freedom in the Age of the Inquisition

Christian Views on Dignity, Slavery, Proselytism, and Democracy
William Inboden (Moderator)
Kyle Harper, Christianity and the Roots of Human Dignity
Robert Woodberry, Protestant Missionaries: Cultural Imperialists or Agents of Democracy?
Donald Miller, Where the Spirit Leads: Pentecostalism and Freedom
Daniel Philpott, Christianity: A Straggler on the Road to Liberty?

Religious Freedom in the Lion’s Den?
Mariz Tadros (Moderator)
Anthony O’Mahony, The Contributions of Ancient Christian Communities to the Contemporary Middle East
Duane Alexander Miller and Philip Sumpter, Between the Hammer and the Anvil: Palestinian Christians in the Holy Land
Elizabeth Prodromou, Orthodox Christian Contributions to Freedom

Keynote Address
Professor Rémi Brague, God and Freedom: Biblical Roots of the Western Idea of Liberty.

Saturday, December 14

Opening Address | Ken Starr

Christians Among the Most Vulnerable: Empowering Women and the Poor in Developing Societies
Allen Hertzke (Moderator), Christian Contributions to the World’s Newest Nation
Rebecca Shah, Empowering Poor Women in Asia, Africa, and Latin America
Richard Burgess and Daniel McCain, Christianity and Freedom in Central and Northern Nigeria
Sara Singha, The Challenge and Leaven of Christian Communities in Pakistan

Christianity and Freedom in Asia
Chad Bauman and James Ponniah, Growth and Challenges for Christianity in India
Fenggang Yang, The Dynamism of Chinese Christianity
Robert Hefner and Marthen Tahun, Christianity and Religious Freedom in the World's Largest Muslim Nation
Reg Reimer, Christianity in Vietnam: Contributions to Freedom Amidst Adversity

Would Europe or America Exist Without Christianity?
Roger Trigg (Moderator)
John Witte, Calvinist Contributions to Freedom in Early Modern Europe
David Little, Early Experiments in Religious Freedom in Colonial America
Matthew Franck, Christianity and Freedom in the American Founding

A Conversation on Christianity and Freedom in the Future of the West
Matthew Franck (Moderator)
Roger Trigg
David Novak
Remi Brague
John Allen

Keynote Address | Archbishop Louis Raphael Sako, Chaldean Patriarch of Iraq, Christianity Matters: What Middle Eastern Societies Will Lose If Christians Flee

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