President of the Religious Freedom Institute (RFI) Thomas Farr offered remarks today at an event held at United Nations headquarters titled, “International Religious Freedom: A New Era for Advocacy in Response to a New Age of Challenges and Threats.” The Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations and the NGO Committee on Freedom of Religion or Belief hosted the event.
Dr. Farr remarked on the nature of religion and the inherent value of religious freedom:
We see religion as the search for religious truth natural to every human being. Religious freedom, then, means the right possessed by every person, and every religious community, to believe and live in accord with religious truth, while recognizing and protecting that right for all others. Because it is indispensable to human flourishing, the right of religious freedom must be protected in law and valued by culture.
He also discussed the social goods that religious freedom fosters:
For example, religious freedom is good for economic growth. Over time it enhances social harmony and political stability. The evidence shows that permitting people to convert from one religion to another is good for societies. It is even good for religions themselves. It turns out that permitting your religion to be criticized and debated, so long as you respond with debate and not violence, makes your religion more vibrant and dynamic.
Dr. Farr concluded his remarks by returning to the foundational premise of RFI’s work:
Religious freedom for everyone is not a boutique issue, a nice-to-have, optional human right. It is necessary for each of us, and for each of our societies, to flourish.
Read his full remarks here.
Joining Dr. Farr on the panel were:
The Honorable Sam Brownback, U.S. Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom
Dr. Hajnalka Juhász, Ministerial Commissioner, Member of the National Assembly of Hungary
Archbishop Ignatius Ayau Kaigama, Archbishop of Jos, Nigeria; Former President of the Nigerian Bishops Conference
Watch the full event here.