A Global Crisis of Religious Liberty: Evidence, Origins, and Significance

June 20, 2014

In this speech delivered at a conference in Rome, Thomas Farr argues that there are many reasons for societies to embrace religious freedom, including the moral imperative to stop persecution that is occurring in many countries around the world. He begins by outlining contending premises on what “religion” is, and, accordingly, what it is that people have a right to do under the protection of a constitutional or civil right to religious freedom. He then uses Pew Research Center data to offer empirical evidence of a global crisis. Farr contends that this crisis has roots inside both Western and non-Western countries, ranging from religious persecution to militant secularism. He concludes by summarizing some practical reasons why those who resist religious freedom in full—whether they are Western liberals, Indian Hindus, Chinese atheists, or Muslim skeptics—should reconsider their respective positions.

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