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Thomas FarrThomas Farr

Thomas F. Farr is director of the Religious Freedom Project at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs and a visiting associate...

Timothy ShahTimothy Shah

Timothy Samuel Shah is associate director of the Religious Freedom Project at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs and...


Ilan AlonIlan Alon

Ilan Alon is the George D. and Harriet W. Cornell Chair of International Business and director of the China Center at Rollins College, specializing...

Anthony GillAnthony Gill

Anthony (Tony) Gill is a professor of political science and adjunct professor of sociology at the University of Washington, a distinguished senior...

Brian GrimBrian Grim

Brian J. Grim is president of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation and a leading expert on the socioeconomic impact of restrictions on...

Allen HertzkeAllen Hertzke

Allen Hertzke is Presidential Professor of Political Science at the University of Oklahoma and faculty fellow in Religious Freedom for OU’s...

William InbodenWilliam Inboden

William Inboden is associate professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs and executive director of the Clements Center for History, Strategy, and...

Karrie KoeselKarrie Koesel

Karrie J. Koesel is assistant professor of Political Science at the University of Oregon and an associate scholar with the Berkley Center's...

Timur KuranTimur Kuran

Timur Kuran is professor of economics and political science and Gorter Family Professor in Islamic Studies at Duke University, as well as an...

John M. OwenJohn M. Owen

John M. Owen IV is the Ambassador Henry J. and Mrs. Marion R. Taylor Professor of Politics and faculty fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies...

Daniel PhilpottDaniel Philpott

Daniel Philpott, a professor of Political Science at the University of Notre Dame’s Kroc Institute for Peace Studies and an associate scholar with...

Ani SarkissianAni Sarkissian

Ani Sarkissian is an assistant professor of political science at Michigan State University (MSU) and an associate scholar with the Berkley Center's...

Rebecca ShahRebecca Shah

Rebecca Samuel Shah is a research fellow at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs and an associate scholar with the Berkley...

W. Bradford WilcoxW. Bradford Wilcox

W. Bradford Wilcox is an associate professor of sociology and the director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, as well...

Robert WoodberryRobert Woodberry

Robert Woodberry is an associate professor of Political Science and director of the Project on Religion and Economic Change at the National...


Nicholas FedykNicholas Fedyk

Nicholas Fedyk joined the Berkley Center in June 2014 as a project associate with the Religious Freedom Project. He graduated from Georgetown's...

Claudia WinklerClaudia Winkler

Claudia Winkler joined the Berkley Center in February 2014 as a project associate with the Religious Freedom Project. Before joining the center,...

March 24, 2014

Everybody's Business: The Legal, Economic, and Political Implications of Religious Freedom

Is religious freedom good for business? Can religious liberty aid economic development, or help reduce poverty? What are the limits of religious freedom? Under the law, are for-profit businesses entitled to the exercise of that right in the United States? Does the HHS contraceptive mandate under the Affordable Care Act restrict the religious freedom of businesses? What are the legal, economic, and political implications of the answer to that question?

On March 24, the day before Supreme Court oral arguments on the Hobby Lobby case, the Religious Freedom Project at Georgetown University’s...


February 25, 2014

Is International Religious Freedom Policy Becoming Respectable?

Some fifteen years after the establishment of the US Office of International Religious Freedom and the position of US ambassador at large (currently vacant), the government of Canada has become the first country to follow suit. In 2012, the Canadian government under Prime Minister Stephen Harper created the Office of Religious Freedom in Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development and in February 2013 appointed its first ambassador, Andrew Bennett. Meanwhile, a (sometimes controversial) mainstay of the US international religious freedom policy is the US Commission on...


December 13-14, 2013

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.


October 9-10, 2013

Freedom to Flourish: Is Religious Freedom Necessary for Peace, Prosperity, and Democracy?

Since its inception in 2011 the Religious Freedom Project has conducted a wide ranging conversation among policymakers, scholars, and the media on the meaning and value of religious freedom. This conversation has yielded a great deal of light, and, truth be told, a fair amount of heat (religious freedom is, after all, a controversial subject).

A two-day capstone conference looked back over the project's first three years, and looked forward as well. It addressed the relationship between religious freedom and human flourishing. Top experts engaged in a series of rich and dynamic discussions...


October 2, 2013

British Christianity: Historical Contributions and Contemporary Challenges

Christianity has played a major, formative role in the development of England, Scotland, and Wales since its arrival in the British Isles in the first century. Today, however, it faces new challenges, as do all Britain's religious groups. The Christian Heritage Centre documents the history of Christianity in Britain through an extensive, one-of-a-kind collection of Christian artifacts, relics, and documents for public education and academic study. Its founders see Christianity’s influence in the United Kingdom as a powerful force for good because of the religion's defense of liberty and...


September 18, 2013

Is Europe Joining the International Religious Freedom Bandwagon?

Growing international threats to religious freedom are coming under increasing scrutiny by Western democracies. Long a foreign policy emphasis in the United States, and more recently in Canada, the crisis in international religious freedom (IRF) is gaining greater attention in Europe, especially in Italy and the United Kingdom. Can these nations be effective in promoting international religious freedom? Will their own domestic struggles with religious freedom handicap their efforts abroad?

Pasquale Annicchino, a fellow at the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies at the European...


May 31, 2013

The Good Muslim and Religious Freedom

The complexities and challenges of religious freedom in contemporary Islam find many of their roots in the development of Islamic law and theology during the Middle Ages, a fact largely unknown to the general public. In a new book, The Good Muslim: Reflections on Classical Islamic Law and Theology, Mona Siddiqui, professor of Islamic and Interreligious Studies at the University of Edinburgh and associate scholar at the Religious Freedom Project, attempts to fill this void. The book explores a wide range of topics from divorce, slavery, and perspectives on evil, to virtue and friendship...


May 30, 2013

Threats to Religious Freedom in the U.S. and Europe: Concerns of Majority and Minority Communities

The 2013 National Religious Freedom Conference, sponsored by the American Religious Freedom Program of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, brought faith community leaders, religious freedom policy experts, and elected officials together in an effort to promote and defend religious freedom in the United States. As part of this conference, RFP organized a panel entitled "Threats to Religious Freedom in the United States and Europe: Concerns of Majority and Minority Communities", which addressed increasing restrictions on religious freedom in the United States and the troubling possible...


February 12, 2013

Rick Warren on Religious Freedom - A Conversation

Does religious freedom help societies flourish? Does the freedom of religious individuals and institutions to put their faith into practice make a difference to the economic and political well-being of the world's people, especially the very poorest? As legal controversy swirls around religious freedom in America and Europe with the Obamacare contraception mandate and battles over gay marriage, the broader social dimensions of religious freedom are often forgotten. A recent Pew Forum report showed that 75 percent of people in the world live in nations where religious liberty is severely...


January 7, 2013

Theism and Rationality: A Seminar with Alvin Plantinga and Ernest Sosa

Is belief in God properly basic to humanity? Philosophers of religion have vigorously contested this question, and the relationship between theism and rationality more generally, over the past several decades. As part of its ongoing research project on religion as intrinsic to human experience, the Religious Freedom Project hosted a standing seminar addressing this topic with noted philosopher Alvin Plantinga on January 7. A panel of distinguished philosophers engaged with Plantinga's paper on the basic nature of belief in God and the rationality of theism and with a response by respected...


December 14, 2012

Inaugural Symposium: Christianity and Freedom: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives

Political turbulence in the Middle East poses a grave threat to some of the oldest and most vibrant Christian communities in the world. Within the West, debates about the roots of freedom have often sidestepped the contributions of Christians and Christian ideas. Against this backdrop, the Religious Freedom Project launched a major initiative on "Christianity and Freedom: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives," a two-year exploration of Christianity’s contributions to the construction and diffusion of freedom in its political, religious, and economic dimensions, in interaction with other...


December 7, 2012

Policy Consultation on Religious Freedom, Violent Religious Extremism, and Constitutional Reform in Muslim-Majority Countries: Lessons for U.S. Policy Makers

Amid the dramatic upheavals caused by the “Arab Spring,” as well as rising levels of religious persecution worldwide and the continued salience of religion-related terrorism, critical policy issues have emerged concerning the relationships between religious freedom, violent religious extremism, and constitutional reform.


October 24, 2012

Religious Freedom Past and Future

The Religious Freedom Project hosted a discussion of two books, which chronicle the history of religion’s role in American foreign policy, and speculate about future threats to religious liberty. The morning session addressed Sword of the Spirit Shield of Faith, Andrew Preston’s sweeping history of religion’s role in U.S. foreign policy. From colonial times through the Reagan Administration and beyond, Preston (Cambridge University) makes the case that religion’s role in shaping American foreign policy has been both pivotal and under-appreciated. Sword of the Spirit Shield of Faith is...


October 11, 2012

Which Model, Whose Liberty?: Differences between the U.S. and European Approaches to Religious Freedom

Religious freedom is in the headlines on both sides of the Atlantic. Although some have written of a "Western model" of religious liberty, is that label a myth? This conference—cosponsored by the RFP and the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at Brigham Young University's School of Law—examined the historic and emerging differences in how religious freedom was conceived and has been implemented on both sides of the Atlantic.


September 14, 2012

Just and Unjust Peace

What is the meaning of justice in the wake of massive injustice? Religious traditions have delivered a unique and promising answer in the concept of reconciliation. This way of thinking about justice contrasts with the "liberal peace," which dominates current thinking in the international community. The Religious Freedom Project hosted a book event, responding to Daniel Philpott's recently published book, Just and Unjust Peace: A Ethic of Political Reconciliation. A panel of Christian, Muslim, and Jewish scholars assessed the argument for reconciliation at the theological and philosophical...


September 13, 2012

Catholic Perspectives on Religious Liberty

Featuring a keynote address by Cardinal Donald Wuerl

Since the Second Vatican Council the Church has placed considerable emphasis on the importance of religious freedom as a matter of human dignity and individual flourishing, and as central to a just and democratic society. Abroad, the persecution of Christians and others has reached significant, perhaps even crisis, proportions. At home, issues involving same-sex marriage, abortion, and contraception have sparked sharp controversy about threats to religious freedom, leading the US Conference of Catholic Bishops to establish its own...


June 28, 2012

Religious Freedom and the HHS Mandate: a Conversation with Representatives Jeff Fortenberry, Diane Black, Ann Marie Buerkle and Dan Lipinski

Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) joined Congresswoman Diane Black (R-TN), Congresswoman Ann Marie Buerkle (R-NY), and Congressman Dan Lipinksi (D-IL) for a public forum at Georgetown University’s Gaston Hall.

Dr. Tom Farr, Director of the Religious Freedom Project at the Georgetown University Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs, moderated this thoughtful discussion on the Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate and its implications for individual liberty and religious freedom. Congressman Fortenberry presented and discussed his legislation, the Respect for Rights of...


May 14, 2012

Religion & State After the Arab Spring: Devising Ground Rules for a New Era

In the aftermath of the Arab Spring, do Middle Eastern nations need a new relationship between religion and state? On May 14, Georgetown University's Religious Freedom Project held a policy briefing with top experts designed to identify specific policy lessons concerning religion's future political role in Arab Spring countries.


May 1, 2012

Rethinking Religion and World Affairs

The Berkley Center hosted the launch of an unprecedented new volume: Rethinking Religion and World Affairs (Oxford, 2012), edited by Timothy Shah, Alfred Stepan, and Monica Toft, and produced under the auspices of the Social Science Research Council through the generous support of the Henry Luce Foundation.

Too often steeped in a secularist mindset, academics, policy makers, and opinion shapers have only just begun to reckon with the varied impact of religion on global politics, society, media, gender issues, diplomacy, and economic development. Rethinking Religion and World Affairs...


April 11-13, 2012

Religious Freedom and Equality: Emerging Conflicts in North America and Europe

In both Europe and North America, an increasing emphasis on equality has pitted rights claims against each other, raising profound philosophical, moral, legal, and political questions about the meaning and reach of religious liberty. The questions emerge in several areas -- for example, questions of religious conscience, an all male Roman Catholic clergy, or the prospect of establishing a separate Muslim system of family law within a democratic state.

No question is more salient in the West, however, than the emerging conflict between new equal rights claims on behalf of homosexuals and...


March 22, 2012

Religious Freedom and Healthcare Reform

The Health and Human Services contraception mandate has revived the debate about the Obama administration's health care reform and its implications for religious freedom. The Berkley Center's Religious Freedom Project convened several leading experts to explore the controversy from different legal, theological, and policy perspectives. Key questions that were addressed include: the role of religious freedom and conscience exemptions in American law, the US Catholic Bishops' criticisms of the health reform law and HHS mandate, and the prospects for a resolution of the controversy. An RFP...


March 16, 2012

Religious Freedom and Religious Extremism: Lessons from the Arab Spring

The success of the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafi parties in the recent Egyptian elections highlights the complex relationship between religious freedom, religious extremism, and democracy in the region. Democratization has meant freedom for Islamic groups to participate in the political life of the new Egypt. At the same time, the success of Salafi parties and ongoing tensions with the military threaten the viability of the fledgling democratic institutions that might guarantee religious freedom, religious pluralism, and civil peace in the new Egypt.


March 1, 2012

Religious Freedom: Why Now? Defending an Embattled Human Right

This event celebrated the rollout of a new book, Religious Freedom: Why Now? Defending an Embattled Human Right, authored by RFP Associate Director Timothy Shah, under the auspices of the Witherspoon Institute’s Task Force on International Religious Freedom, chaired by RFP Director Thomas Farr. The event was co-sponsored by the Religious Freedom Project and the Witherspoon Institute. The keynote address was delivered by Robert P. George of Princeton University. Panels featured a wide range of participants, including noted Muslim scholar Sheikh Hamza Yusuf.


February 13, 2012

Equality, Freedom, & Religion

Does the US government have the right to force religious schools and colleges to offer forms of birth-control in their employee healthcare plans which violate tenets of their morality? Should Christian couples in the United Kingdom be barred from fostering children if their religion forbids them to teach the moral acceptance of homosexual practice? All human rights are valuable and worthy of protection, and yet in recent years the right to put religious belief into practice has taken a backseat to the pursuit of other social priorities.


February 10, 2012

Standing Seminar: Religion & Human Personhood, Culture, and Society

The practice of religion has been observed in some form in all societies since the beginning of history. If it is the case that historically “where two or three are gathered” religion will be manifest in the communal life of the people, how integral is religion to the formation and stability of human personhood, culture, and society? As part of its standing seminar series on “Religion as Integral to Human Experience,” the Religious Freedom Project explored this question with noted sociologists Christian Smith, author of What is a Person?, and Phil Zuckerman, author of Society without God.


January 31, 2012

Silenced: How Apostasy and Blasphemy Codes are Choking Freedom Worldwide

What is the effect of blasphemy and apostasy laws on basic religious and political freedoms of Muslim-majority countries? What happens when Western governments and bodies like the United Nations begin passing similarly motivated restrictions on speech? These and other questions were addressed by Paul Marshall and Nina Shea as they discussed their new book, Silenced: How Apostasy and Blasphemy Codes are Choking Freedom Worldwide. Looking at the experience of hundreds of victims, from political dissidents to journalists to artists and religious reformers, the authors examined the political...


December 5, 2011

Standing Seminar: Religion, Health, and Happiness

Are religious people happier and healthier than their non-religious neighbors or is association with religion deleterious to one's health and happiness? Though these questions have sparked debate among scientists and philosophers for centuries, serious inquiry into the complex associations between religion, health, and happiness date back only a few decades.

As part of its standing seminar series on the relationship between religion and the human experience, the Religious Freedom Project invited two pioneers in the field of the relationship between religion and health to debate these and...


November 17, 2011

What's So Special About Religious Freedom?

Religious freedom has been called America’s “first freedom.” But does it warrant such a special status? What, if anything, distinguishes religious freedom from other protected rights like the freedom of speech or assembly? Is religious freedom a right that stands on its own, or is it a subset of a broader freedom of conscience?

How such questions are answered carries profound consequences for the treatment of religion in American public life and in American foreign policy. On Thursday, November 17, 2011, the Religious Freedom Project hosted a keynote debate at Georgetown University on the...


October 20, 2011

The Price of Freedom Denied

What happens when a government places restrictions on religious freedom? What does a society lose if religion is outlawed or persecuted? The Religious Freedom Project at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs hosted sociologists Brian Grim and Roger Finke as they addressed these and other questions raised in their new book, The Price of Freedom Denied. Examining the worldwide state of religious freedom, Grim and Finke conclude that circumscribing or delimiting religious expression in the name of freedom serves neither the interests of the government nor the polity to whom...


September 23, 2011

Sourcebook Seminar on Religious Freedom and the Struggle against Extremism

On September 23, 2011 the Religious Freedom Project convened a meeting of experts to discuss a sourcebook on the potential relationship between religious freedom and extremism, terrorism, and violence. The sourcebook contains a series of annotated data sets comparing restrictions on religious freedom to the presence of religiously-motivated violence or terrorism, followed by a number of detailed case studies investigating the experiences of particular countries in combating extremism. After incorporating the comments of the assembled scholars, the sourcebook will be made available to policy...


May 4, 2011

The Cognitive Science of Religion

Is religious experience intrinsically related to human cognition? In recent decades this question has prompted significant academic interest from a wide range of scholarly disciplines including anthropology, biology, philosophy, and psychology. The result of this research is an emerging consensus among scientists that the mind has a natural bias towards religious ideas. The human inclination towards religion, if true, would have consequences for the treatment of religion in public affairs. Cognitive psychologist Justin Barrett has been a leading figure in the exploration of this question...


April 29, 2011

Sourcebook Seminar on the Historical Origins of Religious Freedom

On April 29, 2011 the Religious Freedom Project gathered a group of eminent scholars of religion to critically review a sourcebook of texts, compiled from the five major world religions, that traces the conceptual development of religious freedom within each tradition. Though the idea of a right to religious freedom emerged from the classical and Judeo-Christian traditions, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism have rich histories of thinking through many of the component elements which constitute religious freedom in full such as the treatment of other religions and the place of religion in public...