Farr Receives 2017 International Award for Religious Liberty
June 2, 2017
Religious Freedom Research Project Director Tom Farr was recognized for his over 20 years of advancing the cause of international religious liberty at the fifteenth annual Religious Liberty Dinner on June 1, 2017. The event was sponsored by Liberty magazine, the International Religious Liberty Association, the North American Religious Liberty Association, the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and the Religious Freedom Center at the Newseum Institute. Over 150 diplomats, religious liberty advocates, and distinguished guests, including U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Dr. Ben Carson, were in attendance.
In his acceptance speech, Farr emphasized religious freedom’s position as the “first freedom,” enshrined not only in the Constitution but in the human condition. Sharing concerns about a religious freedom deficit in both the United States and abroad, Farr urged the audience to become more active defenders of this fundamental right. "If [you] happen to be religious people, exercise religious liberty publicly, not just in your church, synagogue, or house of worship. If you are an entrepreneurial type or working in an allied field, get involved either with your church or religious organization or with a separate NGO that advocates religious freedom. Finally, if you're an American, push your own government to do what it’s required by law to do, but is not doing very well: that is, advance religious freedom in our foreign policy."
Farr has a long record of defending religious freedom in both the policy and academic worlds. He served as the first director of the U.S. State Department’s Office of International Religious Freedom from 1999 to 2003. He later directed several religious freedom task forces and working groups based in Princeton, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. He has published widely and testified before Congress on several occasions. He founded the Religious Freedom Project in 2011 and the Religious Freedom Institute in 2016; he continues to lead both today.