POSTPONED: The State of Religious Freedom in America

** Due to inclement weather, the event has been postponed. A new date is forthcoming.


Religious freedom for everyone lies at the core of America’s founding and its enduring strength. No other nation has recognized religious freedom as an “inalienable” right given by God, both establishing it constitutionally in law and respecting it broadly in culture.

But the free exercise of religion faces unprecedented threats today. A powerful movement has taken hold throughout American public life that uses cultural intimidation and legal coercion to suppress enduring religious and moral convictions held by millions of Americans—Christians, Jews, Muslims, and many others. There has also been a deeply alarming resurgence of anti-Semitism in the United States in recent years, especially since October 7, 2023, which demands forceful condemnation and opposition.

This inaugural event on Religious Freedom Day will feature leading voices as they discuss the state of religious freedom and offer paths for recovering the full promise of America’s first freedom.

When & Where:

Date: Tuesday, January 16th
Time: 12-1pm EST
Location: The Heritage Foundation | 214 Massachusetts Ave., Washington, DC 20002


*A light lunch will be provided


Opening Remarks

  • Eric Patterson, President of the Religious Freedom Institute

Moderated Discussion

  • Os Guinness, author and social critic
  • Andrea Picciotti-Bayer, Director of the Conscience Project, EWTN legal analyst, and civil rights lawyer
  • Eric Patterson, President of the Religious Freedom Institute
  • Montse Alvarado (moderator), President & Chief Operating Officer of EWTN News

Audience Q&A


Montse Alvarado, President & Chief Operating Officer of EWTN News

Montse Alvarado is president and chief operating officer of EWTN News, Inc. In her role as president of the news division, Alvarado oversees EWTN’s global news media platforms. Its holdings include Catholic News Agency, the National Catholic Register, the ACI Group, ChurchPop, and a lineup of television and radio news programming. Alvarado began her career at the Becket Fund—a renowned non-profit defending religious freedom as a human right at the Supreme Court—leading initiatives in development, communications, strategy and operations to help secure religious liberty victories. She serves as the founding anchor of the news program “EWTN News in Depth,” a weekly one-hour discussion of current events in the Church, politics, and culture, from a Catholic perspective. Born in Mexico City, Alvarado serves the Church in various roles with leading apostolates dedicated to the new evangelization, from the defense of free speech to the role of women and the treatment of marginalized communities in society.

Os Guinness, author and social critic

Os Guinness is the author or editor of more than thirty-five books, including The Dust of Death, The Call, Fool’s Talk, Carpe Diem Redeemed, The Magna Carta of HumanityLast Call for LibertyImpossible People, Unspeakable, and Time for Truth. He is the founder of the Trinity Forum, a prominent social critic, and a frequent speaker who has addressed audiences worldwide. Born in China to missionary parents, he witnessed the climax of the Chinese revolution in 1949, was expelled with many other foreigners in 1951, and returned to England where he was educated and served as a freelance reporter with the BBC. Since coming to the U.S. in 1984, he has been a guest scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Studies and a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution. He was the lead drafter of the Williamsburg Charter, celebrating the First Amendment, and has also been senior fellow at the EastWest Institute in New York, where he drafted the Charter for Religious Freedom. Guinness has had a lifelong passion for making sense of the modern world and particularly how it intersects with profound issues of faith.

Eric Patterson, President of the Religious Freedom Institute

Eric Patterson serves as the President of the Religious Freedom Institute in Washington, D.C. Patterson previously served as dean of Regent University’s Robertson School of Government and at Georgetown University. His interest in the intersection of religion, ethics, democratization, and policy is informed by his work with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs. Patterson has also been a White House Fellow, served for over 20 years as a commander in the Air National Guard, and regularly briefs military and government audiences. In addition to op-eds and academic articles, he is the author or editor of 20 books, including Politics in a Religious World: Toward a Religious Informed U.S. Foreign Policy and a forthcoming volume on Protestant theological views on religious freedom.

Andrea Picciotti-Bayer, Director of the Conscience Project, EWTN legal analyst, and civil rights lawyer

Andrea Picciotti-Bayer is Director of the Conscience Project. A Stanford-educated lawyer, she has dedicated her legal career to civil rights and appellate advocacy. Andrea got her start as a trial and appellate attorney in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. Prior to leading the Conscience Project, she served as the legal advisor for the Catholic Association, filing amicus briefs with federal courts of appeal and the U.S. Supreme Court in key religious freedom and free speech cases. Andrea is also legal analyst for EWTN News and a regular columnist for the National Catholic Register. She frequently in the media to discuss religious freedom controversies and legal victories, and her writing has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, National Review, Fox News, Newsweek, CNN en Español and other well-regarded publications.


Jan 16 2024


12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

More Info



The Heritage Foundation
214 Massachusetts Ave., Washington, DC 20002