Tom Farr Opening Remarks: National Committee for Religious Freedom Launch Event


RFI President Tom Farr delivered the following remarks during the National Committee for Religious Freedom Launch Event, held at RFI’s Washington, D.C. office on January 18, 2022.

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Good afternoon. I’m Tom Farr, president of the Religious Freedom Institute (RFI) here in Washington D.C.

Welcome to RFI and to the launch of a critically important new religious freedom organization in the United States — the National Committee for Religious Freedom

This Committee will defend, in the contentious realm of American electoral politics, the religious freedom of every American, and of every American religious community.

The National Committee for Religious Freedom is the brainchild of Ambassador Sam Brownback, former Senator and Governor of Kansas, and former U.S. Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom.

I welcome the fact that such an effective Ambassador for religious freedom abroad has turned his considerable talents to fight for this precious right here at home. If religious liberty is diminished and damaged in America, our beloved country will be grievously harmed, but so too will the rest of the world. 

Our nation has built a system of religious freedom that, while never perfect, is unparalleled in the history of mankind. It stands as a guiding light to a world that is desperately in need of religious freedom. 

In short, America needs religious freedom, and religious freedom needs America.

In guaranteeing the right of religious free exercise in the First Amendment, our Founders were protecting an inalienable human right, one given to each human being by God, not by government.

The duty of government, our Founders declared, is to protect religious freedom for all of us. They believed that all of America’s religions would help mold the public virtue and morality so important to their revolutionary experiment in limited government. 

They knew that if government assumed the authority to define and impose public virtue and morality, and to coerce the consciences of its citizens, the results would be catastrophic.

Their system of religious free exercise, free from government interference, has produced over time the most dynamic, compassionate civil society in history — yielding tens of thousands of religious hospitals and schools, services for the poor and homeless, care for orphaned and abandoned children, and hope for the desperate, including men and women incarcerated in prisons. 

Unfortunately, this precious right, and all the benefits it has provided to the American common good, is under assault. It is being attacked by cultural and political elites who demand that religion be removed from public life, and who defame as bigots and haters those with whom they disagree on matters of religion, public policy, and public morality. They are using the power of the law to drive morally orthodox people of faith, and their institutions, out of our public life.

But America’s religious citizens aren’t haters. They are lovers. They love God, they love their neighbors, and they love this great country. 

Like all others in America, they deserve a voice. The National Committee for Religious Freedom will preserve and protect that voice, along with the voices of all our religious communities. If all Americans have religious freedom, we will be better as a nation and as a people.

Now let me turn to the man whose leadership has brought us here today. Ambassador Sam Brownback.