Interview | Government Restrictions on Faith Under COVID-19

December 17, 2020

On December 17, 2020, Eric Patterson, RFI Executive Vice President, interviews Fr. Dcn. Andrew Bennett, Director of RFI’s North America Action Team, about “Government Restrictions on Faith Under COVID-19.”

Full bios:

Eric Patterson, Ph.D. serves as Executive Vice President of the Religious Freedom Institute. Patterson is scholar-at-large and past dean of the Robertson School of Government at Regent University and a Research Fellow at Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace & World Affairs, where he previously served full-time.  Patterson’s interest in the intersection of religion, ethics, and foreign policy is informed by two stints at the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, with work in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Congo, Angola, and elsewhere.  He has significant government service, including over twenty years as an officer and commander in the Air National Guard and serving as a White House Fellow working for the Director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  

Patterson is the author or editor of over a dozen books, including Politics in a Religious World: Toward a Religiously Informed U.S. Foreign Policy (2012), Just American Wars: Ethical Dilemmas in U.S. Military History (2019), Ending Wars Well (2012), Ethics Beyond War’s End (2012), and Military Chaplains in Iraq, Afghanistan (2011).  He has also published on religious freedom, democracy, and democratization in International Studies Perspectives, Review of Faith and International Affairs, Public Integrity, and the International Journal of Religious Freedom.  In addition to articles in scholarly journals such as Survival, Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, and Security Studies his work has been published in popular outlets like The Washington Post and Washington Times. 

Patterson has provided briefings and seminars for multiple government agencies, including France’s Ministry of Defense, U.S. Department of State, U.S. Central Command, U.S. European Command, U.S. Naval War College, U.S. Naval Postgraduate School, the U.S. military academies, and many others.  Patterson holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of California at Santa Barbara and a Master’s in International Politics from the University of Wales at Aberystwyth.

Fr. Dcn. Andrew P.W. Bennett serves as Senior Fellow and Director of the North American Action Team of the Religious Freedom Institute. He is a Ukrainian Greek-Catholic deacon of the Eparchy of Toronto and Eastern Canada. Fr. Deacon Andrew also serves as Senior Fellow at Cardus, Canada’s faith-based think-tank, where he is Programme Director of Cardus Law which looks at the role of law in society with a particular focus on religious freedom in Canada. Fr. Deacon And­­rew previously served in the Canadian foreign service as Canada’s first Ambassador for Religious Freedom and Head of the Office of Religious Freedom from 2013 to 2016 during which time he led in defending and championing religious freedom internationally as a core element of Canada’s principled foreign policy. He remains a regular and active commentator on religious freedom in Canada and abroad. Fr. Deacon Andrew’s ambassadorial appointment was the culmination of a 14-year career in the Canadian civil service. He holds a B.A. Hons. in History (Dalhousie), an M.A. in History (McGill), and a Ph.D. in Politics (Edinburgh).