Future of Religion and Diplomacy

Events

Jul
26
Thu
Religious Persecution in Iran and Yemen: The Case of the Baha’is @ Knight Conference Center
Jul 26 @ 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Religious Persecution in Iran and Yemen: The Case of the Baha’is @ Knight Conference Center

The Religious Freedom Center and the Baha’is of the United States invite you to a reception followed by the U.S. premier screening and a panel discussion of the 25-minute film, “The Cost of Discrimination,” by journalist and film producer, Maziar Bahari. The film draws striking comparisons between the apartheid era system of education in South Africa and the denial of higher education to Baha’i youth in Iran. Shot partly in South Africa, it features Arash Azizi, well-known author, former BBC journalist, and co-host of a popular Iranian TV show. The impact on religious freedom of Iran’s influence in Yemen will also be addressed. Mr. Richard Foltin, a senior scholar at the Religious Freedom Center, will moderate a panel that will consist of Mr. Azizi, Ms. Diane Ala’i, representative of the Baha’i International Community to the United Nations in Geneva, Dr. Farhad Sabetan, a U.S.-based spokesperson for the Baha’i International Community, and Mr. Saman Mobasher, who studied in the informal and discretely operated Baha’i Institute for Higher Education after being denied admission to university in Iran on account of his religion.

Use the password HOPE to get a ticket. There is limited seating to this event.

Jul
27
Fri
Security and Religious Freedom: How Do We Protect Both? @ Newseum’s Knight TV Studio
Jul 27 @ 8:30 am – 10:00 am
Security and Religious Freedom: How Do We Protect Both? @ Newseum’s Knight TV Studio | Washington | District of Columbia | United States

Secretary of State Pompeo is convening the first ever Ministerial to advance religious freedom in Washington, D.C., from July 24-26. The Religious Freedom Center at the Freedom Forum Institute/Newseum is holding a side event at 8:30 a.m. on Friday, July 27 — Security and Religious Freedom: How Do We Protect Both?

One of the most pressing questions in the world today is how best to protect both security and robust rights to religious freedom. Too often, governments across the world use security as a rationale to impose overly broad limits on religious exercise — from regulating religious garb and religious speech to limiting cultural productions and even cutting off access to houses of worship. This panel will examine how such limitations are worsening rather than bettering security and discuss the benefits of religious freedom for security, social stability and economic health.

Program panelists include Brian Grim, president of the Religious Freedom and Business Foundation, Neil Hicks, senior director for advocacy at the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, and Haroon Azar, program director for the Initiative on Security and Religious Freedom.

Asma Uddin, senior scholar of religious freedom at the Religious Freedom Center, will moderate the conversation.

panelists

Brian J. Grim

Brian Grim, Ph. D.
Brian Grim is president of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation and a leading scholar on international religious demography and the socio-economic impact of religious freedom. His recent research finds that religion contributes $1.2 trillion to the U.S. economy annually, more than the combined revenues of the top companies including Apple, Amazon and Google. Brian is an affiliated scholar at Baylor University, Boston University and the Freedom Forum Institute. He is also recent chair of the World Economic Forum’s council on the role of faith, and he works closely with the United Nations “Business for Peace” platform. Brian is a Penn State alumnus and author of numerous works including “The Price of Freedom Denied” (Cambridge), “World Religion Database” (Brill), “World’s Religions in Figures” (Wiley), and “Yearbook of International Religious Demography” (Brill). He is also a TEDx speaker and a speaker at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in Davos.

Neil Hicks

Neil Hicks
Neil Hicks is the senior director for advocacy at the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies. He has over 35 years of experience in the human rights field.

Neil began his career in human rights at Birzeit University in the occupied West Bank. He worked as an executive assistant and researcher at the International Secretariat of Amnesty International in London, focusing on Egypt and Iran, between 1985 and 1991. He then worked at the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights in New York, later known as Human Rights First, for 27 years and in a variety of positions. During that time, he founded the organization’s Human Rights Defenders program, engaged in research and advocacy on a wide range of countries in the Middle East and beyond, and led the organization’s efforts to promote the protection of human rights as a central part of the U.S. government’s strategy to combat terrorism and counter violent extremism. Neil joined CIHRS in 2018.

Haroon Azar

Haroon Azar
Haroon Azar teaches National Security and Civil Liberties at UCLA School of Law. He is a Senior Fellow at UCLA Burkle Center for International Relations and Program Director for the Initiative on Security and Religious Freedom. Mr. Azar is a recognized national security expert with broad experience working with law enforcement and faith-based communities to further resilience mission areas. Prior to his current role, Mr. Azar was the Regional Director in Los Angeles for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Previously, Mr. Azar worked as Deputy Director for the Middle East, Africa, & South Asia in the Office of International Affairs at DHS Headquarters in Washington DC. His portfolio included providing the Office of the Secretary with policy counsel and management of international affairs related to homeland security. Additionally, Mr. Azar was responsible for negotiating bilateral and multilateral security agreements with international partners focusing on improving immigration policy, visa security, aviation security, border security, supply chain management, and counterterrorism efforts.

Mr. Azar earned his B.S. magna cum laude at California State University Dominguez Hills, and his J.D. from UCLA School of Law where he was Editor-in-Chief of UCLA Journal of Islamic and Near Eastern Law.

Asma T. Uddin

Asma Uddin
Asma T. Uddin is a fellow with the Initiative on Security and Religious Freedom at the UCLA Burkle Center for International Relations. She is also a research fellow at Georgetown’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs. Asma previously served as counsel with Becket, a nonprofit law firm specializing in U.S. and international religious freedom cases, and as director of strategy for the Center for Islam and Religious Freedom, a nonprofit engaged in religious liberty in Muslim-majority and Muslim-minority contexts. She is widely published by law reviews, university presses and national and international newspapers. She is also an expert advisor on religious liberty to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and a term-member of the Council on Foreign Relations. In addition to her expertise in religious liberty, Asma writes and speaks on gender and Islam, and she is the founding editor-in-chief of altmuslimah.com. She graduated from the University of Chicago Law School, where she was a staff editor at the University of Chicago Law Review.

Aug
13
Mon
Exploring Religious Identity and Race Through Civil Dialogue @ Charles E. Beatley, Jr. Central Library
Aug 13 @ 6:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Exploring Religious Identity and Race Through Civil Dialogue @ Charles E. Beatley, Jr. Central Library | Alexandria | Virginia | United States

Alexandria is a vibrant community of many races, ethnicities, and faiths. Diverse houses of worship make up the spiritual and cultural backbone of our community; yet often, we find it difficult to reach outside our own group. How well do we really know our neighbors? How often – and how effectively – do we communicate across boundaries to address difficult subjects and challenges?

We have found that many people have the will to get to know neighbors who believe and worship differently, but they often lack the way. Finding the way begins by exercising the skills of civil dialogue.

You are invited to a workshop that will help us to practice these skills. Alexandrians will share their perspectives on the importance of dialogue across boundaries, and we will learn to better understand ourselves and others. Workshop exercises will empower attendees to explore controversial topics using the skills of civil dialogue. The workshop will be led by Dr. Sabrina Dent of the Religious Freedom Center.

Refreshments will be served.

Sep
11
Tue
Difficult Dialogue: Lowering the Heat to Engage in Meaningful Conversations @ Wesley Theological Seminary
Sep 11 @ 4:45 pm – 6:15 pm
Difficult Dialogue: Lowering the Heat to Engage in Meaningful Conversations @ Wesley Theological Seminary | Washington | District of Columbia | United States

During this workshop, you will learn the basic theory of dialogue, essential skills needed for dialogue; tips for handling the heat when dialogue gets tough, and most importantly, you will learn how to create an environment that makes authentic dialogue possible.  The workshop will be facilitated by the Religious Freedom Center.

Sep
12
Wed
Religion and Immigration: Tips for Sharing Scholarship with the Public @ Zoom videoconference room
Sep 12 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
Religion and Immigration: Tips for Sharing Scholarship with the Public @ Zoom videoconference room

The Religious Freedom Center of the Freedom Forum Institute invites you to attend our September webinar, Religion and Immigration: Tips for Sharing Scholarship with the Public. We will discuss how scholars of religion and immigration can engage different publics to raise the visibility of their work. We are pleased to host co-presenters Jennie Bell, faith community organizer for the Immigrant & Refugee Rights Program, Sylvia Chan-Malik, associate professor at Rutgers, and Janelle Wong, professor at the University of Maryland. The webinar will include a presentation and extended Q&A.

The Public Scholars Project is a joint initiative of the American Academy of Religion and the Religious Freedom Center of the Freedom Forum Institute.

Sep
15
Sat
Civil Dialogue Training @ Newseum’s Learning Center
Sep 15 @ 9:00 am – 3:00 pm
Civil Dialogue Training @ Newseum’s Learning Center | Washington | District of Columbia | United States

The Religious Freedom Center, as a nonpartisan and nonsectarian initiative, is committed to promoting dialogue and understanding among people of all religious traditions and none. We carry out this mission by providing civil dialogue training and workshops, hosting the Committee on Religious Liberty, and building partnerships with organizations that represent a broad spectrum of religious and ideological perspectives.

Religious and civic leaders, educators, and business leaders are uniquely positioned to help cultivate an informed and engaged citizenry. Having the ability to facilitate dialogue is a key leadership skill for the 21st century. As sharp ideological divisions continue to polarize our communities, we need leaders who have the skills to engage people and communities who hold a variety of legal, ideological, religious and nonreligious perspectives.

We invite you to join one of our full-day civil dialogue training sessions or to schedule one with your community. The workshops will be facilitated by Rev. Kristen Farrington, civil dialogue specialist and director of the Religious Freedom Center.

upcoming sessions

  • Saturday, September 15, 2018 (registration due date is September 7, 2018)
  • Saturday, December 8, 2018 (registration due date is November 30, 2018)

training features

  • Dialogue theory
  • Learning and practicing the skills of dialogue
  • Learning how to facilitate dialogue
  • Learning the practical steps to setting up dialogue sessions in your community.

Sign up online today. These training sessions are free but seats are limited. Registration is required.  For more information, please contact Dr. Sabrina Dent at sdent@newseum.org.

 

Oct
29
Mon
Religion in the National Discourse @ Knight TV Studio
Oct 29 @ 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Religion in the National Discourse @ Knight TV Studio | Washington | District of Columbia | United States

Americans today are divided on a range of issues at the intersection of religion and state power. So much of our national discourse has been centered on questions like: Can government officials use religion to justify government policies? Should politicians use religion to garner support? How does the intersection of religion and politics affect society? What are the contours of the “separation of church and state”?

The Religious Freedom Center of the Freedom Forum Institute and the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF) welcomes four distinguished speakers from a diversity of political and religious backgrounds to discuss these questions.

Speakers

Hoda Hawa
Hoda Hawa

Director, Policy & Advocacy, Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC)

Hawa oversees MPAC’s strategic initiatives in government and policy by engaging those circles at the highest levels and developing an active constituency around policy.

Hawa has written and spoken on subjects ranging from international religious freedom and national security to free expression and bullying. She has been featured on BBC, Al Hurra TV, Fox News, MSNBC, Voice of America, NPR and C-SPAN.

Hawa spoke at the first-ever groundbreaking event at the White House honoring and highlighting the contributions of American Muslim women during Women’s History Month. She was a speaker at the U.S. Institute for Peace panel discussion, “Religion, Violence and Coexistence” with Ambassador-at-Large Suzan Johnson Cook. Hawa writes frequently on issues that affect Americans both domestically and internationally, with an emphasis on those issues that impact American Muslims. She also has experience in dialogue development groups, interfaith activities and conflict resolution.

Hawa has a B.A. in Political Science from George Washington University with a concentration on international affairs and the Middle East and a master’s degree in Ethics, Peace and Global Affairs focusing on Islam, ethics and conflict resolution from American University’s School of International Service.

Ayesha N. Khan
Ayesha N. Khan

Partner, Potomac Law Group

Khan has represented a party or a friend-of-the-court in 35 U.S. Supreme Court cases, more than 100 federal and state appeals and scores of trial-level cases. Formerly a deputy chief in the Appellate Section of the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice and the legal director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, she also has extensive managerial and supervisory experience in the litigation sphere.

As a partner with Potomac Law Group, she focuses on appellate litigation in state and federal courts around the country and partners with trial-level litigators to ensure issues are fully and properly preserved and presented for appeal on behalf of commercial, municipal and individual clients. She also provides an array of litigation-consulting services to nonprofit advocacy organizations, ranging from mentoring attorneys to providing strategic counsel on litigation.

Khan is admitted to practice in Maryland and the District of Columbia, every federal circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court. She received her J.D. from The University of California, Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law and her B.A. from the University of Michigan. She can be reached at akhan@potomaclaw.com.

Melissa Rogers
Melissa Rogers

Nonresident Senior Fellow, Governance Studies, Brookings Institution

Rogers is a nonresident senior fellow in Governance Studies. She served as special assistant to the president and executive director of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships during the Obama administration. Rogers previously served as chair of the inaugural Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Prior to that she was director of the Center for Religion and Public Affairs at Wake Forest University School of Divinity. She also served as executive director of the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life and general counsel for the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty. Her areas of expertise include the First Amendment’s religion clauses, religion in American public life and the interplay of religion, policy and politics. Rogers co-authored a case book on religion and law for Baylor University Press, “Religious Freedom and the Supreme Court” (2008). She holds a J.D. from University of Pennsylvania Law School and a B.A. from Baylor University.

Tim Schultz
Tim Schultz

President, 1st Amendment Partnership

As president of the 1st Amendment Partnership, Schultz directs all aspects of the organization’s work, building faith alliances, guiding public policy and educating key influencers on religious freedom issues.

Prior to the 1st Amendment Partnership, he served as state legislative director for the Ethics and Public Policy Center’s American Religious Freedom Program (ARFP). In that role, Schultz directed ARFP’s state policy initiatives, including developing and guiding coalition efforts to establish bipartisan religious freedom caucuses in 30 state legislatures. Schultz is widely viewed as a leading expert on religious freedom issues, with a focus on state policy issues.

In his 15 years of experience developing state and federal policy, Schultz has testified before Congress and more than 15 state legislatures.

Schultz is frequently featured in national media, including the Associated Press, NPR, Deseret News, The Hill, Christian Broadcast Network, The Daily Beast and The New York Times.

Schultz is a former instructor at George Mason University and was a staffer in the Washington office of Sen. Bob Dole’s presidential campaign. He is a graduate of Kansas State University and Georgetown University Law School.

Moderator

Kavneet Singh
Kavneet Singh

Board Chair, Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF)

Singh serves as board chair for SALDEF, the nation’s oldest Sikh American civil rights, media and education organization. He works for a national health care organization where his leadership responsibilities relate to performance management and strategy execution. Singh has brought these skills to SALDEF, advising on strategy, advising on SALDEF’s interactive curriculum, “Sikhism 101 for Law Enforcement,” assisting in training local, state and federal law enforcement officials about awareness and protocol and addressing audiences about Sikhism, the Sikh-American community, civil rights and diversity at regional and national forums. Singh has been quoted on CNN, NBC and Huffington Post and has appeared on local, national and international broadcast and radio interviews.

Singh also serves as a member the Asian Pacific American Media Coalition and on the advisory board of the Prison Religion Project at Saint Mary’s College of California. He has been actively involved with providing mentorship at various Sikh youth camps across the country over the past decade and instructed students in Sikh history and ethos at the El Sobrante Gurdwara.

Born in Michigan and raised in California, Singh lives with his wife, Dr. Karen Singh and family in the San Francisco Bay area, is a diehard Lakers fan and received his B.A. from The University of California, Berkeley.

Following the panel discussion, SALDEF will host a reception for all program attendees.

Race, Religious Freedom and the Politics of Belonging @ Knight Conference Center
Oct 29 @ 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm
Race, Religious Freedom and the Politics of Belonging @ Knight Conference Center | Washington | District of Columbia | United States

This public conversation will explore the complex politics of race and religious freedom in our contemporary moment.

This program is the first in a series of public events exploring the politics of religious freedom and introduces some of the key themes that will be featured in our January 2019 intensive course, “African Americans and Religious Freedom.”

Panelists

The Hon. Suzan Johnson Cook

The Hon. Suzan Johnson Cook (Ambassador Sujay) is an instructor at the Freedom Forum Institute’s Religious Freedom Center. Nominated by Secretary Hillary Clinton and appointed by President Barack Obama, she was the third U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, becoming the first woman, first African American and first faith leader to hold this post. She visited more than 28 countries and had more than 100 U.S. diplomatic engagements, always focusing on her mission and always, whenever possible, sitting with women of the various nations with which she engaged. Previously, she was the first female chaplain for the New York City Police Department, where she served 21 years and was on the frontlines of Sept. 11. She was a founding member of A Partnership of Faith and served as a senior parish pastor for three New York City congregations. She was the first female president of the historic Hampton University Ministers Conference, the largest conference of African-American clergy in the world, leading some 12,000 clergy leaders. She is widely published and proficient as a preacher and keynote speaker through her own professional speakers’ bureau.

Yolanda Pierce, Ph.D.

Yolanda Pierce, Ph.D., is professor and dean of the Howard University School of Divinity in Washington, D.C. She is a scholar of African-American religious history, womanist theology, African-American literature and race and religion. In addition to being a widely published author, Pierce is a dedicated mentor, community activist, board member of a foster care agency, cable news commentator and native New Yorker. For additional information, please visit her website, http://www.yolandapierce.com, or follow her on Twitter (@ynpierce).

Corey D. B. Walker

Corey D. B. Walker is a scholar of African-American social, political and religious thought. He currently serves as vice president of Virginia Union University and 10th dean of the Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology, where he is also professor of religion and society. In 2018, he was appointed Senior Fellow in Religious Freedom at the Religious Freedom Center of the Freedom Forum Institute in Washington, D.C. Prior to his current position, he served as a member of the faculty and in administrative leadership positions at Brown University, University of Virginia and Winston-Salem State University. He is the author of A Noble Fight: African American Freemasonry and the Struggle for Democracy in America (University of Illinois Press), editor of the special issue of the journal Political Theology on “Theology and Democratic Futures” and associate editor of the award-winning SAGE Encyclopedia of Identity. He has published more than 50 articles, reviews, book chapters and essays appearing in a wide range of scholarly journals and co-directed/co-produced the documentary film fifeville with acclaimed artist and filmmaker Kevin Jerome Everson. Currently, he is finalizing his next book exploring race, religion and American public life titled, Between Transcendence and History: An Essay on Religion and the Future of Democracy in America.

Brad Braxton, Ph.D.

Brad Braxton, Ph.D., is director of the Center for the Study of African American Religious Life at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. He holds a Ph.D. in New Testament studies from Emory University, a master’s degree in theology from the University of Oxford, where he was a Rhodes Scholar, and a bachelor’s degree in religious studies from the University of Virginia, where he was a Jefferson Scholar. Braxton’s expertise in religion, diversity, inclusion and social justice makes him a highly sought-after public speaker.

Braxton is also a seasoned educator who has held lectureships at Georgetown University, Harvard Divinity School and McCormick Theological Seminary, as well as professorships at Southern Methodist University, Vanderbilt University and Wake Forest University. Additionally, he is the founding senior pastor of The Open Church, a culturally inclusive congregation in Baltimore.

Participants are invited to a reception prior to the program.

Henry Luce Foundation

This program was made possible by generous support from the Henry Luce Foundation.

 

Partners

Baptist Joint Committee
Hood Theological Seminary
Howard University School of Divinity
Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church
NMAAHC
Payne Theological Seminary
Samuel Dewitt Proctor-Theology
Shaw University Divinity School

 

Dec
8
Sat
Civil Dialogue Training @ Newseum’s Learning Center
Dec 8 @ 9:00 am – 3:00 pm
Civil Dialogue Training @ Newseum’s Learning Center | Washington | District of Columbia | United States

The Religious Freedom Center, as a nonpartisan and nonsectarian initiative, is committed to promoting dialogue and understanding among people of all religious traditions and none. We carry out this mission by providing civil dialogue training and workshops, hosting the Committee on Religious Liberty, and building partnerships with organizations that represent a broad spectrum of religious and ideological perspectives.

Religious and civic leaders, educators, and business leaders are uniquely positioned to help cultivate an informed and engaged citizenry. Having the ability to facilitate dialogue is a key leadership skill for the 21st century. As sharp ideological divisions continue to polarize our communities, we need leaders who have the skills to engage people and communities who hold a variety of legal, ideological, religious and nonreligious perspectives.

We invite you to join one of our full-day civil dialogue training sessions or to schedule one with your community. The workshops will be facilitated by Rev. Kristen Farrington, civil dialogue specialist and director of the Religious Freedom Center.

upcoming sessions

  • Saturday, September 15, 2018 (registration due date is September 7, 2018)
  • Saturday, December 8, 2018 (registration due date is November 30, 2018)

training features

  • Dialogue theory
  • Learning and practicing the skills of dialogue
  • Learning how to facilitate dialogue
  • Learning the practical steps to setting up dialogue sessions in your community.

Sign up online today. These training sessions are free but seats are limited. Registration is required.  For more information, please contact Dr. Sabrina Dent at sdent@newseum.org.

 

Dec
13
Thu
Still Rising: The Increasing Role of Women as Heads of Religious Freedom Organizations @ Knight TV Studio
Dec 13 @ 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm
Still Rising: The Increasing Role of Women as Heads of Religious Freedom Organizations @ Knight TV Studio | Washington | District of Columbia | United States

We have recently seen several long-time leaders in the field of religious freedom — with various political perspectives and of diverse faiths — step down from their positions, some to seek other opportunities and others to enjoy a well-earned retirement. Interestingly, as these friends of the Religious Freedom Center have moved on, the new leaders of these organizations, which have been historically led by men, are now mostly women.

While each organization is different, and doubtless each of them sought the best person for the job, this development raises several interesting questions: Has something changed at these institutions to expand the talent pool in which they are looking — and does that have something to do with changes in their respective faith traditions? Is there some change, from the perspective of the candidates for these jobs, in terms of seeing these positions as right for them? What are the top advocacy issues on which these new leaders are working, and does their bringing a woman’s perspective to the job make a difference? What are the implications of current religious freedom issues for women in particular? To what extent, if any, do these leaders see part of their role as influencing the role of women in their respective faiths and denominations, as opposed to dealing with external legal and societal issues?

Join the Freedom Forum Institute’s Religious Freedom Center for a panel discussion among current female executive directors of prominent religious liberty organizations on the rising role of women in leading these organizations. Melissa Rogers, former special assistant to the president and director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, will moderate.

The panelists include:

  • Amanda Tyler, executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee
  • Satjeet Kaur, executive director of Sikh Coalition
  • Rachel Laser, president and CEO of Americans United for Separation of Church and State
  • Kim Colby, director of Center for Law & Religious Freedom, Christian Legal Society