Future of Religion and Diplomacy


Disrupt the Narrative: Centering African American Perspectives on Religious Freedom @ Knight Conference Center
Jun 7 @ 9:00 am – 4:00 pm

This public conversation will explore the ethics and complex politics of race and religious freedom by centering the issues, narratives and experiences of African Americans in the United States.

This program is the second in a series of public events exploring the politics of religious freedom through our “Religious Freedom: African American Perspectives” project. During this program, participants will hear from scholars, practitioners and community leaders who are making invaluable contributions to this critical discussion. This program is also designed to encourage participants to think through practical ways to take action around religious freedom issues in their community. Participants will engage in small group discussions, a community talkback session and explore opportunities to think through next steps together.


Keynote Speaker
Tisa Joy Wenger, Ph.D.

Tisa Joy Wenger, Ph.D., is associate professor of American Religious History at Yale Divinity School as well as of American Studies and Religious Studies at Yale University. She is the author of “Religious Freedom: The Contested History of an American Ideal” (University of North Carolina Press, 2017).

Scholars Panel
Corey D. B. Walker

Corey D.B. Walker, Ph.D. (moderator), visiting professor at the University of Richmond and senior fellow, Religious Freedom Center of the Freedom Forum Institute.

Teresa Smallwood, J.D., Ph.D.

Teresa Smallwood, J.D., Ph.D., associate director for Public Theology and Racial Justice Collaborative at Vanderbilt University.

Alphonso F. Saville IV, Ph.D.,

Alphonso F. Saville IV, Ph.D., Andrew W. Mellon postdoctoral fellow for the Study of American Religion and Slavery at Georgetown University.

Practitioners Panel
Faith Harris, D.Min.

Faith Harris, D.Min. (moderator), assistant professor of Theology and director, Johnson A. Edosomwan Center for Faith, Leadership, and Public Life at the Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology.

Itihari Toure, Ed.D.

Itihari Toure, Ed.D., director of the Sankofa Center for Data Evaluation and Quality Enhancement at Interdenominational Theological Center.

Charles Watson Jr., M.Div.

Charles Watson Jr., M.Div., director of education for the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty.

Mandisa L. Thomas

Mandisa L. Thomas, founder and president, Black Nonbelievers, Inc.

Iva Carruthers, Ph.D.

Iva Carruthers, Ph.D., general secretary of Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, a social justice network that engages progressive African-American faith leaders.

Community Talkback Panel
The Rev. Thomas Bowen

The Rev. Thomas Bowen (moderator), director of the Office of Religious Affairs in the Executive Office of the Mayor of Washington, D.C., and interim director of the Mayor’s Office on African American Affairs and the Commission on Fathers, Men and Boys.

Rahmah A. Abdulaleem, Esq.

Rahmah A. Abdulaleem, Esq., executive director, KARAMAH: Muslim Women Lawyers for Human Rights.

Charity L. Woods

Charity L. Woods, co-founder and managing director, Interfaith Voices for Reproductive Justice.

Shavon Arline-Bradley, M.Div.

Shavon Arline-Bradley, MPH, M.Div., founding principal of R.E.A.C.H. Beyond Solutions LLC, a public health, policy/advocacy, faith and executive leadership firm.

William H. Lamar IV, M.Div.

The Rev. William H. Lamar IV, M.Div., pastor of Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church in Washington.

Henry Luce Foundation

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



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


NCSS 2019 Summer Religious Studies Institute @ Religious Freedom Center
Jul 9 @ 1:30 pm – Jul 11 @ 12:00 pm
NCSS 2019 Summer Religious Studies Institute @ Religious Freedom Center | Washington | District of Columbia | United States

The Religious Freedom Center of the Freedom Forum Institute will host the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) Summer Religious Studies Institute at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. The program, to be held July 9 – 11, 2019, will convene K-12 public school educators in the nation’s capital to explore issues of religious freedom and diversity in the classroom. Educators will learn about religious studies as an academic discipline, and have the opportunity to develop working relationships with leading religious studies subject matter experts and curricular resource providers.

The NCSS Summer Religious Studies Institute is limited to 60 participants. For more information and to register, please visit socialstudies.org.

Dare to Overcome: Women’s Media Strategy and Film Festival @ Documentary Theater
Jul 15 @ 2:30 pm – 5:30 pm

The world is increasingly visual, story-driven and mobile dominated. It’s urgent we identify, equip and mobilize leaders to create short films to share empowering messages.

The Dare to Overcome film competition challenged women filmmakers from around the world to produce short films that showcase inclusivity and multi-faith living in the workplace and community.

In partnership with the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation and Empower Women Media, we will showcase women’s short films that are compelling explorations of the impact of freedom of belief and how this helps empower women, religious minorities and the displaced. The screening will include a panel discussion with film makers and a reception.

Speakers Include

Shirin Taber

Iranian-American Shirin Taber directs the Middle East Women’s Leadership Network and Empower Women Media. She is passionate about helping leaders produce media for their missions.

Brian J. Grim

Brian Grim, Ph. D., is president of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation and a leading scholar on international religious demography and the socio-economic impact of religious freedom.

The Hon. Suzan Johnson Cook

The Hon. Suzan Johnson Cook (Ambassador Sujay) is a distinguished lecturer 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.

Empower Women Media

Religious Freedom & Business Foundation