RFI President Tom Farr delivered opening remarks at last week’s International Religious Freedom Summit 2022 held in Washington, DC, which today First Things has published in adapted form. Farr’s wide-ranging remarks address violent persecution and repression outside the West as well as the pernicious “retreat from religious liberty in Western democracies.”Farr begins:
Why should you and I, regardless of our religious or political beliefs, support religious freedom for everyone, everywhere? Because human beings must have the freedom to be religious.
We are by our nature religious beings. The search for God is natural to each of us. Religious freedom is not a privilege granted by governments. It is a natural, inalienable right, given to every human being by God. It is the duty and the right of conscience to discern the truth about religion and to exercise religion in private and in public.
Religious freedom by its nature excludes compulsion. No person may be compelled or manipulated by any human agent, especially by government, to seek God or to worship him. God himself neither compels nor manipulates. He loves and he beckons. We should imitate him. This view of religious freedom and human dignity motivates me to fight for religious freedom for everyone.
In fact, this noble idea—religious freedom as human dignity—is so compelling that it has been affirmed many times in the modern world, in international covenants, in national constitutions, and in speeches by politicians. And yet millions of human beings remain subject to violent, sometimes deadly, religious persecution and discrimination. They are paying a profound cost for their religious consciences. We must fight for them.
Read the full article: Today’s Fight for Religious Freedom.