Proselytism and Development in Pluralistic Societies: A Public Dialogue

The relationship between religious proselytism and development is sharply contested. International covenants recognize that religious freedom includes rights to personal religious conversion and public religious witness. But critics claim that proselytism can violate the rights of affected communities to maintain their traditions and can sow division in fragile societies. There is wide agreement that development aid should never be conditioned on religious conversion. Disagreement centers on whether, when, and how a vigorous religious marketplace, including the freedom to proselytize, fosters social dynamism and development or, on the contrary, social division that undercuts development goals.
Over the course of the day-long dialoguethree panels of distinguished religious leaders, development practitioners, and scholars will examine these issues from diverse perspectives. A keynote conversation will feature Pastor Rick Warren, founder of Saddleback Church, and Ruth Messinger, president of American Jewish World Service. 


AGENDA

9:00 a.m. ׀ Welcome
Thomas Banchoff, Berkley Center, Georgetown University
Thomas Farr, Religious Freedom Project 

9:15-10:30 a.m. ׀ Panel 1: Historical Perspectives on Proselytism, Humanitarianism, and Development

Thomas Farr (moderator), Religious Freedom Project 
Michael Barnett, George Washington University
Rebecca Samuel Shah, Religious Freedom Project 
Robert Woodberry, National University of Singapore

10:30-10:45 a.m. ׀ Break

10:45 a.m.-12:00 p.m. ׀ 
Panel 2: Proselytism, Poverty, and Development Practice in Today’s World
Rebecca Samuel Shah (moderator), Religious Freedom Project  
Asoka Bandarage, Interfaith Moral Action on Climate
Kent Hill, World Vision United States
Katherine Marshall, World Faiths Development Dialogue

12:00-12:30 p.m. ׀ Lunch

12:30-2:00 p.m. ׀ Keynote Conversation
Timothy Samuel Shah (moderator), Religious Freedom Project
Katherine Marshall, World Faiths Development Dialogue
Ruth Messinger, American Jewish World Service
Rick Warren, Saddleback Church

2:00-2:15 p.m. 
׀ Break

2:15-3:30 p.m. ׀ Panel 3: Proselytism, Social Stability, and Political Development in Today’s World
Allen Hertzke (moderator), University of Oklahoma
Brian Grim, Religious Freedom & Business Foundation
Ani Sarkissian, Michigan State University
Hans Ucko, Religions for Peace International (retired)

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