The Religious Freedom Project (RFP) is engaging major new questions not often broached in contemporary debates
over the meaning and value of religious freedom. What is the relationship between religious freedom, other
fundamental freedoms, and societal flourishing? What economic and political benefits accrue to societies that
afford full and free expression to the religious impulses that are deeply embedded in the human experience?
Can religious freedom contribute to the consolidation and longevity of democracy, to economic growth and
reductions in poverty, or to the equality of women?
To address these questions with empirical data and rigorous scholarship the RFP has commissioned some of America’s leading scholars. They comprise two working groups (listed below) and together form an interdisciplinary research team under Director Thomas Farr and Associate Director Timothy Shah.
Additionally, the RFP is taking an in-depth look at Christian communities that are facing persecution. Key questions include: How are such communities responding to persecution? How effective are their strategies? What lessons can other religious minorities learn from these groups about how best to resist, or even to survive, religious persecution?
In 2012 and 2013 the Religious Freedom Project undertook a two-year research initiative to explore Christianity’s contributions to the construction and diffusion of freedom in its political, religious, and economic dimensions. Through groundbreaking research by an international team of scholars as well as through a cycle of public symposia and conferences, “Christianity and Freedom: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives” examined ways in which Christian thinkers and communities have generated new concepts and practices of freedom in interaction with other religious traditions and secular ideas and institutions. Religious Freedom Project Associate Director and Scholar in Residence Timothy Shah was the project leader. Allen Hertzke, Presidential Professor of Political Science at the University of Oklahoma, co-chaired the initiative’s distinguished Steering Committee alongside Timothy Shah.
The initiative was made possible through the generous support of the Religion and Innovation in Human Affairs (RIHA) program administered by the Historical Society, with additional support from the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation and the Witherspoon Institute.