Religion in the National Discourse

October 29, 2018 @ 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Knight TV Studio
555 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20001
Free and open to the public. Registration required.
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.


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

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.


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.

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