WEBINAR | “The Value and Limits of Religious Liberty: A Discussion Between Thomas Farr and Ryan Anderson”

Thomas Farr, President of the Religious Freedom Institute, wrote in an article last year, "Human beings are innately religious. Our nature impels us to seek answers to profound questions about ultimate things. If we are not free to pursue those answers, and to live according to the truths we discover, we cannot live a fully human life." Accordingly, religious freedom is a fundamental human right.

While Ryan Anderson affirms this view of religious freedom, he recently emphasized the limits of that freedom in an article entitled, "Proxy Wars over Religious Liberty." In it he argues that when responding to government coercion intended to eliminate dissent in the area of human sexuality, "religious liberty can't be the only response to such coercive efforts." Anderson concludes, "Protecting religious liberty for all, however praiseworthy in itself, is not a prudent or effective way on its own to fight a proxy war over human sexuality."

In this discussion, Farr will explore with Anderson the case he is making in order to clarify the proper role of religious freedom in addressing some of the most contentious moral, political, and legal questions in America today.



Ryan T. Anderson, Ph.D., is the William E. Simon senior research fellow at The Heritage Foundation, and the founder and editor of Public Discourse, the online journal of the Witherspoon Institute of Princeton, New Jersey.

He is the author of When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment and Truth Overruled: The Future of Marriage and Religious Freedom, and he is the co-author of What Is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense and Debating Religious Liberty and Discrimination.

Anderson is the John Paul II Teaching Fellow in Social Thought at the University of Dallas, an adjunct professor of philosophy and political science at Christendom College.

He earned his doctoral degree in political philosophy from the University of Notre Dame.


Thomas F. Farr serves as President of the Religious Freedom Institute. Farr served in the U.S. Army and Foreign Service for 28 years. He has spent the last two decades advocating for religious liberty, including as founding Director of the State Department’s Office of International Religious Freedom and from 2008-2018 as Associate Professor of the Practice of Religion and International Affairs at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, and also as Director of Georgetown’s Religious Freedom Project at the Berkley Center.

Farr is a senior fellow at Baylor University’s Institute for Studies of Religion and a consultant to the U.S. Catholic Bishops Committee on International Justice and Peace. Arguments from his 2008 book, World of Faith and Freedom: Why International Religious Freedom is Vital to American National Security (Oxford University Press), have shaped U.S. religious freedom legislation and foreign policy.


May 20 2020


1:00 pm - 2:00 pm


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