Committe for Responsible Foreign Policy – The Impact of War on Religious Freedom 2

Committe for Responsible Foreign Policy – The Impact of War on Religious Freedom 2



our next panel discussion this is a very under disc really critical issue it's the impact of war on religious freedom and we this is as we are in an era of endless wars this is really something that needs a lot of discussion and an examination and we're happy to be able to do that today this panel is going to be moderated by my colleague the executive director of the American Conservative Johnny burka and to quote the immortal words of the late great Ed McMahon here's Johnny thanks so much right well I'd like to welcome you all to our second panel truly honored and humbled to be with such an esteemed group of panelists who have thought so deeply about this issue and done excellent work both in the past and the present on this important topic and before we get started I'd also like to thank the committee for a responsible foreign policy for the work they do every month convening people together policymakers on the hill to talk about the impact of war on a host of issues from the impact of war on women like you've discussed in the past to the impact of war on the environment the economy and veterans with the aim of promoting a more peaceful and constitutional approach to u.s. foreign policy so I'm hoping that today's discussion after each person is a chance to present can take a look at what America is doing well and what we're doing poorly throughout the world particularly as it relates to religious liberty so today's conversation will span a few different areas will look at different regions throughout the world from the situation in Ukraine and Eastern Europe on going down to Africa with a particular focus on Nigeria over the Southeast Asia and Irma as well as Iraq and the Middle East but we'll also look at it through the cultural and historical dimensions and get to hear a little bit about the personal experience of the Bruderhof community so the format for the second channel each panelist will have approximately 10 to 15 minutes to present from the podium on the work that they've been doing and then we'll come together for a discussion so we'll kick things off with pastor heinrich arnold he serves the senior pastor for the Bruderhof in the united states and fraud a contributing writer to cloud quarterly he has spoken in countries around the world on forgiveness and not violence and has been active supporting international education and health care initiatives in partnership with Save the Children Samaritan's Purse and World Vision please welcome pastor heinrich carmel to the Polka Thank You Johnny and good morning everybody it's really an honor to be here today and to talk about this very important issue of religious freedom and it's regret in our last panel the importance of preserving cultural heritage of religion in the world and holy sites and that really is important and being a pastor I don't really have a lot of academic expertise or foreign policy expertise but one thing I do want to talk about is the importance of freedom as a spiritual thing as living living faith how it's important to preserve that and the ability to act and live out our beliefs in society and how that makes countries flourish and so that's really the context I want to talk in today so we know that there's really a battle for allegiance at stake here especially at times of war so countries battle for the allegiance of their citizens their armies the culture and before missiles or guns are shot there's this battle waging for the loyalty of the hearts and minds of people so that's why people of faith who put their ultimate trust or loyalty to God or to a higher power experience increased persecution in times of war it's happened again and again in history so it shows us that history shows us that religious freedom along with truth are the first casualties of war kind of like this canary dying in the in the mines from the noxious gas of war so war brings death and suffering and persecution and we all hate war everybody gates ward let's think of it about what the opposite of war is it's the it's peace and love and what is that and where does it come from I think it's a virtue that's beyond pacifism that's beyond opposition to war it's really from through my perspective of faith it's the heart of God that's what peace is it's the heart of Jesus like jesus promised in the Gospel of John peace I leave you my peace I give you I do not give you peace as the world gives peace so these isn't a passive state but it's really a living acting building love the builds family and community and society so I've asked people what where does this original plan for peace or non-violence our opposition to war come from does it come from the Old Testament or the New Testament I think oh that's Jesus that's the New Testament turn the other cheek but know God's planning for peace goes right back to the beginning of the Bible the book of Genesis God created the world and he said man go and flourish and create family and then what happened the first the first incidence of violence was Cain who killed his brother Abel out of envy and God said what have you done the voice of your brother's blood is calling to me from the ground so there's that blood as a symbol of life calling to God from the ground that God was condemning the war he was saying that yes you are made in the image of God and when there's shedding of blood that defiles the image of God so now on from there Jesus of course he was the peacemaker he said blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called children of God and so what does peacemaking of course we can make peace by being strong by standing up for justice right and wars are often fought in the name of making peace as well as other foreign policy that's that's fine that's good others sincerely believe that following Jesus means countering violence for the loved and on non-resistance and doing good to your enemies and doing good to those that persecute you and that's really the kind of peacemaking that Jesus with us too in his life now the first followers of the Christians the early Christian the early Christian church they lived a life of peace and justice and they shared their possessions and they rejected using force and violence one of the earliest things second secretary apologist or SPD's said whenever Christians would not wish others to do to them the Golden Rule they do not do to others and they comfort their oppressor to comfort their oppressors and make them their friends they do good to their enemies through love towards their oppressors they persuade them to become Christians so for this conviction of course many of these early Christians were persecuted by the Roman state and why because they gave their ultimate loyalty to God rather than to Caesar so then if you look through church history of course after Constantine the the church was Lord you know associated with a state and there was that connection that grew throughout the Middle Ages and it took until about the sixteenth century where there was this Reformation right the Magisterial Reformation didn't change a whole lot they changed some of the articles of faith but there was a group there the radical Reformation that broke away on matters of conscience and one of these groups the Anabaptists they profess the literal interpretation of the Sermon on the Mount on Jesus which precluded taking oaths participating in military action and participating in government one of the early leaders of this group Konrad Grable he wrote this in 1524 true Christian believers are sheep among wolves sheep for the slaughter neither do they use the worldly sword or war since all killing has ceased for them so these early church Adam baptism they witness to freedom of religion they were one of the lowest ham pians in that and that in that period of history they also were I think the first group that really testified to the separation of church and state which of course was a founding concept for our country at that time it was unheard of and for this belief they often that cost him their there's the social standing often their livelihood and even persecution to the point of death so coming forward there was a group of these Anabaptists that had settled in this country for the sake of religious freedom including the Mennonites of brethren at a group called the Hutterites that traced back to the Anabaptist and they had continued living in full community sharing their their resources and keeping their faith so they emigrated here in the nineteenth century around the time of World War one the members of the Hutterites along with some other people of faith refused to serve the military so there are actually quite a few of them were put in jail there was no there was no way to get around that at that point and they were there are four brothers from the Hutterites of names for Joseph and Michael Hoffer and another Joseph whiff and they were put in Leavenworth prison 1918 and they were severely mistreated because of their fates because not only that they did not want to fight the war but they refused to put on the uniform and there he used to do any work so so two of them died in prison because of mistreatment and after that before World War two around 1940 because of the lobby of many churches our country our Congress passed a bill that now would allow for conscientious objection to serving in the war and rather giving an alternative service of something of national importance that could be done in times of war when there was a draft so there were thousands of people that served this country doing alternative service during World War two they didn't things like building dams and roads and fighting forest fires and good work like that working in hospitals so now I'd like to tell our own story from the Vertigo from the my own personal and church heritage the river was founded by my great-grandfather devil heart Arnold as white heavy in Germany and I was 1920 aftermath of World War one now he had been studying for theology and PhD in theology and philosophy he was a popular speaker and writer and the war came a lot so he was conscripted as all young men were at that time and went to the front of World War one and suffered ill health and so was discharged and then since he was going into the ministry he volunteered to pastor Timothy the soldiers that were wounded for the battles in the trenches and the amount of suffering the pain he saw the injustice he saw he realized that war is terrible war is wrong and felt that as a Christian he could no longer participate in war and this kind of I'm thinking what do I do with our lives how do we witness to faith in daily life and he decided to start this small church called the Brigham feza as an alternative to capitalism militarism and power politics so here's something he wrote in 1920 he said we do not judge those who make use of violence but we want to serve the spirit of love which will one day supersede all force driven by the living Spirit of Christ we bow our allegiance to the kingdom of love and friendship we resolve to join and working for the transformation of society and for forging bonds of peace between all nations so shortly after that he hears the connection to the Hutterites Anabaptists he was looking for a group that would have a similar theology and he traveled to Canada the United States in 1930 and became an are being administered of the how to write Church and then he continued on in Germany there well with the rise of the National Socialist regime and Hitler coming to power they very quickly came into conflict with the brooder Hope Church and he was pretty outspoken alongside of other people at that time such as Martin niemöller Teeter trabajo for Carl Bartlet's personal friend and he wrote and talked extensively early on like prior to too early the taking over the power in Germany here's one thing he wrote to Nazi officials and he addressed it to Adolf Hitler in 1933 he said we respect your task your mandate we do recognize it you are the government we have to acknowledge however there is a higher mandate to place the service of perfect love the service of community of unity right in the midst of destruction and in this sense we want to appeal to you allow us to live in this country governed by you as a church which has a quite different mandate namely to represent the ultimate meaning and pointing to over and against your governmental authority as well as your jurisdiction you madam government you must receive this in your hearts so this goal may not vanish from your hearts therefore allow the communities that live in this way and on the basis reject private property terrifical action and the use of our bonds to live in this land it will be beneficial to this country so he spoke out quite clearly well it's quite predictable to that what happened because he didn't bow to to the seizure of the time the persecution increased and in 1933 the Gestapo police raided the community searches of her weapons thought they were communists they by the grace of God they were allowed to continue going at that point but eventually they were closed down and chased out of the country in 1937 when they confiscated the Chicago came again confiscated all the properties and probably would have hauled them off the concentration camp had there not been two Hutterite ministers visiting them from the United States and at that point the Nazis weren't ready to be perceived evilly by the by this country and so they allowed them to to leave as a group and they fled now prior to that actually my great-grandfather Emma Hart had died in a hospital he was quite outspoken and apparently in his delirium that I had or two before he died he shouted out across the hospital has dermals repented yet so you can guess what may or may not have had what we don't actually know so anyways that's the the history of our church and I will continue on to that we had it up here in this country in other parts of the world as well but what's interesting is this we all know how the persecution of Christians now has increased the moon there's this recent report from the bishop thorough they append an independent review for the British Foreign Secretary that came out a couple days ago and that's actually shocking to hear all the all the persecution that's happening and we'll be hearing were that and the rest of the panel who know about that in more detail you know the recent Easter Church bombings in Sri Lanka's anti-blasphemy laws in Pakistan and two conversion laws in India and many parts of the global South is so much persecution and then there's other parts of the world the Western world where maybe there's not persecution but there's increased suppression of true faith and a living out thing and I think that's so important that we speak out to that and testify that all faiths should be held in esteem and that really will strengthen it'll strengthen society not weaken it so flourishing of society family community is dependent on freedom and I would say that religious freedom freedom to believe the live out faith and conscience is the linchpin of all freedoms and states that respect this right are robust and strong leaders in a free world and war does have a devastating effect on religious freedom so if we treasure the right to believe to speak about and live out there our faith publicly we should do all we can to abolish war to prevent the slide of conflict into work a Christian has a special mandate that is to love our enemy and to do good to those who persecute us and historically faithful Christians as well as other religious people have posed a threat to absolute authoritarian governments in their allegiance to God and faith over the state so faith in particularly living Christian faith in Jesus will challenge and provide a voice of conscience to society but it does not threaten the just authority of governments religious freedom can and should strengthen the foundation of a free and democratic government and should be supported and nurtured here in the United States and in every free society a nation thank you our next speaker will be cold Durham he is the director of the International Center for law and religion studies and a law professor at BYU is published widely on comparative law and served as chair of both the Comparative Law section and the law and religion section of the American Association of law schools he is the member of several advisory boards dealing with religious freedom and church state relations please welcome Col I was invited to podium but I can't see far enough to stay closer to my text here if you'll bear with me Hobbes famously described peace as a residue left after subtracting out all times of war he said the nature of war consistent not in actual fighting but in the known disposition thereto during all the time there is no assurance to the contrary all other time is peace if you follow that there's not very much time left for peace in polarized times let such as ours this suggests that in reality warfare is the prevailing state of existence certainly conflict is and so for my presentation today this suggests I have considerable latitude in the range of circumstances that I can count in analyzing the impact war on freedom of religion or belief historically the right to freedom of religion or belief in its modern form initially emerged from the cauldron of religious warfare at the time of the Reformation indeed one can easily claim that a principle impact war on freedom of religion or belief is the war gave birth to freedom of religion at least once seminal thinkers such as John Locke recognized that it is not religion for an oppression of religion that tended to spawned conflict it's also important to note a vital aspect of freedom for religion at least under international law it's a non-dairy Keable right that is in contrast to other rights such as freedom of expression and freedom of association freedom of religion or belief is not irritable even times of publicly declared national emergencies non-dairy ability is important not only because it's vital for human beings to be able to draw on religion at times of crisis but it's also vital for distilling peace out of conflict and that I think is part of these considerations are part of why it's a non terrible right now I'm tearing ability doesn't mean that there are limits to freedom of religion there are but even in emergency situations those limits have to be narrowly drawn now too often the passions of war override the constraints of non Derik ability and indeed the general constraints on limitation of freedom of religion or belief thereby compounding the tragedy of war and vastly complicating processes of restoring peace it's not surprising that warfare often results in violations of religious freedom rights what is more concerning is that war in the more general Hobbesian sense of conflict falling short of hot war can nonetheless start the downward spiral into increased tensions compounded resentments discrimination and ultimately social or political violence that in mind I want to concentrate in my time not so much on the obvious ways that hot war results in religious freedom violations but on some of the less violent the more prevalent conflict situations that Hobbes might count is war because they are less than peace now it's beginning and this is really in a way a backdrop and was implicit in the prior panel the starting point is that there is a well-established right to establish and maintain places of worship to maintain sacred space I'm not going to go into this there are a lot of international declarations etc it's interesting that while this principle is implicit in the basic international documents illa brides the UDHR the ICCPR and so forth it wasn't until 19th 1981 UN Declaration on the elimination of all forms of intolerance and discrimination based on religion of belief most of us call it just the 1981 declaration you can see why that that's when it was first explicitly articulated that there is a right to freedom of thought conscience relief that includes the right to worship or assemble in connection with the religion or belief and wisdom maintained places for these purposes and there's a lot of other things that I read more about but I'm not gonna give you the full details but you get a point this is a well-established right despite the clarity the right to establish maintain places of worship under international law cases of violation of this right abound and that's what we've been talking about this morning and throughout this past week in your recent years accounts of numerous types of interference with this right are all too common and the members seen bulldoze places of worship and pound some believers in cosmic discrimination against unpopular religious groups is a recurring problem at the local level practically everywhere only in difficulty getting land-use approvals for building places that become people's places of worship now instead of attempting a comprehensive review of such cases around the world I want to focus on some representative issues from Russia and Ukraine the cases are representative of different types of problems since we spent a sacred space and I couldn't help thinking as I listened to the prior panel I wish I could just sort of identify these types of problems and then let them talk about the full richness and complexity of dealing with these issues but you will get some sense but four types of situations protecting Satan's face from the sacrilege restitution of previously appropriate appropriate expropriated property the closing of sacred space and resolving conflicts with regard to saving space so first type of situation sacrilege is represented by the Russian government's handling of the Riot case it's very famous I'm sure most of you have heard of that and it's controversial because it pits the rights of freedom of expression against the rights of a religious community Riot rock group stage an unauthorized and provocative but they call the guerrilla performance inside Moscow's Christ the Redeemer Cathedral if they knew that in Moscow you know health centrally large new it's a building that was built on a place that had been destroyed during the penance machine the Orthodox Church claim the perfect performance costs to in sacrilege and Putin agreed and you can guess where the story went from there the result was them the group leaders were convicted of hooliganism motivated by hate speech they took appeals to the Court of Human Rights I think they got out because of the Sochi Olympics in a way that was basically you know this case is obviously rooted in intentionally offensive and polarizing behavior one can ask some questions about the harshness of the punishment but in a certain sense religious groups have a right to have their statement space and even if other groups want to speak against them there's some intense brightnesses site village can be a kind of warfare after all and there should be protections against them the next case this involves the restitution of missus a restitution of religious property case so we talked about some of those in the complexity of restitution situations here I just mentioned the restitution of st. Isaac's Cathedral the golden dome symbol of st. Petersburg the current building was completed in 1858 the original church built on the site that dates back to the great it was converted into the Museum of the history of religion and atheism and typical communist fashion during Soviet era recently the mayor of st. Petersburg is we'd give the building back to the Orthodox Church protestors contend that has become a monument first in a church second and I just want to highlight that conflict the conflict between the museum value to the sacred site and the worship value the statement site and one of the ways out of some of the conflicts is to transform the meaning of a place we've talked more richly I think in the press session about that kind of fun but I think that's one of the concerns that somehow in the process of conflict the worship value of these sites the spiritual meaning value gets overshadowed by larger public concerns about history not to say that these other concerns aren't awesome they're invalid but somehow it seems odd for the museum Powell that use the in value to be eclipsed the worship them to care about that okay third issue the war against extremism global battle chattering violent extremism etc the case I want to take here is the treatment received by Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia this is not a matter about protecting sacred space it's a matter of shutting down sacred space most of you would be familiar with what's happened but it demonstrates the risks complicit in the war on religious extremism particularly where overly broad laws are implemented by overzealous officials do va's witnesses are known for a variety of religious views including strong commitment to sharing their witness with others opposition to blood transfusions conscientious objection to Spain military and frankly objection to participating in most forms engaged with the state except suing the state under appropriate circumstances and most of us are grateful for the lawsuits and various countries that helped pave the way for religious freedom for the rest of us many event they're basically known for being peaceful and nonviolent and given that reality came as a considerable shock when the Russian Supreme Court affirmed the dissolution of their central religious organization and its 395 local chapters victimizing this group by depriving it of legal entity status on the basis of misguided findings of extremism represents a blatant violation of the right of freedom of religion or belief now this story unfolded in a number of stages and I think it's worth taking a moment to just think of the stages of how this happens because one has to be worried about this kind of stupid stuff I can tell you other groups in Russia are very worried that this steps might start unfolding against them a first step was to exploit an overly broad anti-extremism law that you notice witnesses new world translation of the Holy Scriptures was banned as extremists despite a law prohibiting banning copies of quotations from the Bible as extremist I haven't spent a lot of time in their effort into their translation of the Bible but you know there are a lot of translations I'm just confident that it's not more extreme than any the others a local court held in the New World Translation the Bible was not a Bible and thus not protected by the law of detective ridings a variety of other standard publications in the geo vez witnesses have been themed extremists once literature was deemed extremists confiscated the dissemination of extremist materials became criminal offence another element in the legal Arsenal invoked against Jehovah's Witnesses was that so-called vro eurovia laws named after Irina Jeremiah chairpersons State Duma Committee on security period at its passage in 2016 these laws introduced provisions prohibiting among other things proselytization outside of religious buildings belonging to missionaries organization engaging in religious teaching in people's homes for example was banned given Jehovah's Witnesses commitment to sharing their beliefs these laws constituted essentially illegal traps that they were found all men – it's not clear whether this the convictions that started cropping up around the country were a centrally orchestrated pattern of prosecution or merely an indication of systematic biases in local enforcement agencies across Russia and had friends tell me the police get together to figure out how they up their conviction rates and if you figure out how to convict a GOP with us in one city do the same thing another thing who knows how this all works out by either case the pattern is concerning consists of a series of seemingly disconnected steps the first step takes the advantage of Russia's they anti-extremism law to brand various pieces of a group's literature as extreme the court in Russia noted the 95g Homans publications were that a registry of extremist materials I don't know how many of you have picked up a copy of awake magazine at some point in your life I have a hard time imagining it really be extremists but of course once the courts of said it is the upper course don't have to go back and review the validity of the decision they just say there were a lot of different cases and okay so anyway you get you get the problem there I think I won't I'm running out of time so I won't get a let me skip last example warfare League property disputes one of the most famous cases in American religion state law emerged in the height of the Cold War tensions in early in the early 1900s as background it's important to recall that this was a time of intense fears Soviet Communism that led to the excesses of the McCarthy era the case involved a dispute concerning st. Nicholas Cathedral in New York City Russian expatriates in New York succeeded in getting the New York legislature to pass a law the transfer title to the church from the Moscow Patriarchate it did seat in Moscow the expatriate Russian group that has was now living in New York despite the strongly anti-communist temper of the times and fears subsequently vindicated that the Moscow Church had been infiltrated by the communists US Supreme Court held that in resolving this dispute it was obligated to defer the hierarchy of the Russian Orthodox Church now I mention this case first because as strong parallels to both why not today in Ukraine following the Russian invasion of by media there has been a consolidation of ukrainian orthodox churches i'm not sure helpfully the consolidations gone some of you could neglect me more about how that has been working out earlier this year the ukrainian parliament passed a lot like the new york law that makes it easier for a congregation that has hitherto been affiliated with the moscow patriarchate to shift its allegiance to the ukrainian orthodox body that is in the premises merging there are others here who are more concerned conversing with Aldous all works out theologically but it's clear and it's clear the members of one religious group have a right to change allegiance that's not in dispute question is whether they can automatically take the property with them and that is a recurrent kind of problem in all kinds of change property disputes and I guess I'm inclined to think that our Supreme Court got this one right but it's a complicated issue and one that we can take out but I'm gonna stop because of time thank you so much our next speaker is Nadine may ends up she's the founding executive director of Patriot voices which was also co-founded by Senator Santorum where she has provided her expertise to shape the organization's special emphasis on public policies to help working families she's written on various policy topics and that have been widely read and published a National Review the hill the daily signal and the Christian Post please welcome Dean thank you so much and I was honored to be appointed as a commissioner on the u.s. Commission on International Religious Freedom a year ago by President Trump and my colleague here Christina Arriaga it's also a commissioner along with me and I didn't want to talk a little bit I see some new faces here so I know most of you are pretty familiar with the Commission I won't spend a whole lot of time but for those of you that are not we were established 20 years ago by Congress to be a watchdog agency of the United States so what we do is we monitor religious freedom conditions abroad and then make recommendations to the President to the Secretary of State into Congress and how we can move countries towards religious freedom so unlike the State Department which must must look at the Bella bilateral relationship with a country when they're interacting we are laser focused on religious freedom so we can't keep everyone accountable that regardless of what's going on our how important an ally is what are their conditions on religious freedom and we call them out we make recommendations we do hearings or do a lot of things to try to keep us honest in terms of religious freedom we both threw a lot of trips at Delta that delegations we go to countries we assess with what's going on in those countries I I just few weeks ago was in Burma and then was able to go to Bangladesh and actually went to Burma with you serve which is the u.s. Commission's acronym if I say that and we're talking about the Commission and also my own capacity afterwards when I went ahead to Cox's Bazar to visit some of the refugee camps there and meet some of the victims there because someone is a full picture of the situation in Burma well I'm not and expect an expert on and the impact of war on on religious freedom I certainly noticed the difference that war our armed conflict had on Burma in the difference around the country and I want to thank the committee for Responsible foreign policy for shining a light on this important topic because looking at Burma through these lenses is actually pretty interesting it was remarkable to me how many people in our government were met with that made the case that this was not a religious conflict and the conflict between the military just so you know I'm familiar with Burma there's a lot of ethnic conflicts and the different areas that that's been going on that's for 60 years Burma was was run by the military and they're transitioning to a they've been transitioning to a part military part civilian-led government and and they're still ethnic armed conflicts all through the country and then ethnic areas and so you know we heard a lot of that it's not and you know we really feel like it's both it is everything of course but you can't take the religious part out of it you know the rahein guys already know muslims the kitchen or kitchen christians and when you're talking to them they talk about their neighbors as seeing the buddhist you know so when you can't really ignore the identification or the the self-identification from from the religious perspective but regardless of whether who agrees on that or not we all agree that this is made a big impact on the ability to practice your faith in these communities and times of conflicts is interfered with or diminish the ability to practice their faith several parts of the country's religious leaders have been attacked or houses of worship damaged and destroyed so these are known facts some big claim that the medical damage or destruction analysis does not prevent someone from practicing their faith that may be so but we all know that freedom of religion or belief protects the ability to practice a loan or a community with Heather so if there isn't a church that's that that's important moreover many of these religious sites are unimportant storable and cultural significance to their communities in the surrounding areas the conflict let's put the church one charitable organizations and other faith-based groups at great risk they've strived to keep up with a never-ending humanitarian needs of its civilian population impacted by these decades-long violence when the military's regular blockades on humanitarian assistance have restricted civilians access to food shelter health care these religious organizations have stepped in unfortunately the ministero was able to shine light on several of these instances around around the world I spoke with dozens of our kingdom Muslims in Cox's Bazaar Bangladesh where / currently there's 1 million working as was residing in slum type settings it didn't matter where they lived in the makind state they seemed to tell me this some similar story on August 25th 2017 at your 3:00 a.m. in the morning the military led attacks on their villages almost everyone I talked to and it was astounding to go through my notes had a loved one killed during those few days a husband wife daughter some parents and uncle and as you know rank was used as a weapon and the amount of girls and women victimized was astounding so 700,000 people fled in just a few days to neighboring Bangladesh but I had not expected it here was the most emotional group I met with was Imams that would work they were the only group by crowds that probably probably and they talked about how they were attacked first how the mosques and the krons were desecrated before they were parked that they were all burned to the ground and then they think the mosques were raised so they couldn't even easily rebuilt I heard about a helicopter I'd never heard before a helicopters come in and shoot fire to start everything on fire to get the villages burning quicker and then but the real story was how their rights have eroded throughout the years and it was you look really because they used it as conflict Oh extremism were afraid of these people so we've got it started taking their rights away and and in you know so 2012 they made a rule where only five go to the mosque practice together and then if more did they'd be arrested or even horse children were unable to go to classes freedom of movement was curtailed the curfew was instituted and also meant the call for prayer instead of five times a day could only be three times a day and then right after that they could no longer amplify the call to prayer so it's and then random violence just to come into a school then I heard lots of quotes of they just go into school and kill the religious teacher leave and they just would the fear would go over and everyone go back to the home so um you know it was obviously a lot of you were probably more familiar with how terrible the situation has been and is and they were also other ethnic not in below or what happened there some Muslims but in 2018 local mobs that included three desslok's physically assaulted Christian pastors and fresheners in the state and at least one instances children Christians sorry were too afraid to say fleet in church for quite a few months and in the Qin state the military is long targeted houses of worship and religious leaders accusing them of working with that name armed organizations so that whole impact of the armed conflicts just it's there's so much tension among the different religions and in the Concetta in the northern Shan state more than a hundred thousand remain internally displaced now in camps due to the long-standing fighting and since the 2001 collapse of the ceasefire agreement between the military and the kitchen independence army some individuals have been displaced in multiple times of course impacting women and children more last year a Baptist Mission School in a Roman Catholic Church both in the Christian State were damaged by military gunfire and explosives and one point last year the military blocked humanitarian aid help civilians hostage in their villages and blocked journalists from entering the conflict zone and in recent years more than 30 churches have been destroyed in the kitchen state alone by heavy weapon attacks and by some estimates there some over a hundred churches in kitchen area that no longer could are no longer usable and the Jim Baptist Convention has been kind of the base of support for the entire state reports from the chin State indicating that Burma's military forcibly recruits local villagers and internally displaced people for supplies and work for them ethnic armed organizations are also not blameless in this these conflict areas in 2018 the china-backed united wah state army is also fighting the Burma military forces targeted religious institutions and leaders and in the northern Shan State and you know this is all under the guise of rooting out religious extremism particularly among missionaries its soldiers interrogated and chained clergy clothes religious schools destroyed unauthorized searches banning new church construction and in forcibly you know forcing them to join the military military ranks the military actually held a hundred ethnic wall Christians hostage and they were just released at the end of last year the physical devastation of war is more visible but it's the human stories of conflict that is truly heartbreaking for example as the conflicts have raged on for decades peace and interfaith activists have regularly been targeted last year late last year a court sentenced three kitchen Christian activists to six months in prison for allegedly defaming the military so that's a crime while peacefully protesting the military's actions earlier in the year trapping civilians many of them Christians in a conflict zone and cutting them off from humanitarian assistance one was released last March and another just recently in April as part of you service religious prisoner and Pontius project former Commissioner Daniel mark had adopted two Muslim interfaith peace activists to highlight their case and activate for their release and they were just released in 2017 but this is they were literally arrested because what they did is they went to meet the catch in Independence Army delivered a Christian cross and a statue of Buddha as a sign of peace and the government's accused them of conspiring with against the government and giving them two-year sentences and also restoring the two Baptist kitchen leaders dumb dogged not lot and along JA gen C both members of the kitchen Baptist Convention spent 15 months in prison for helping to expose the effects of war on local Christian communities the authorities apprehended the men in 2016 at their existed local journalists with military in strike strike information the military alleges that both men supported the kitchen independence army a false allegation that landed them both in prison for revealing the truth about the military's indiscriminate attacks on civilians and people of faith both were released just as last April there were also a very well known story kitchen where two kitchen baptist women were nesting blog Christians hostage and they were just released at the end of last year the physical devastation of war is more visible but it's the human stories of conflict it is truly heartbreaking for example as the conflicts have raged on for decades peace and interfaith activists have regularly been targeted last year late last year a court sentenced three kitchen and Christian activists to six months in prison for allegedly defaming the military so that's a crime while peacefully protesting the military's actions earlier in the year trapping civilians many of them Christians in a conflict zone in cutting them off from humanitarian assistance one was released last March in the nether just recently in April as part of youth service religious prisoner watches project former Commissioner Daniel mark had adopted two Muslim interfaith peace activists to highlight their case and activate for their release and they were just released in 2017 but this is they were literally arrested because what they did is they went to meet the kitchen independence army deliberated Christian cross and a statue of Buddha as a sign of peace and the government's accused them of conspiring against the government and giving them two-year sentences and also the story of the two Baptist kitchen leaders dumb dog non blacks and long jaw genesee both members of the kitchen Baptist Convention spend two months in prison for helping to expose the effects of war on local Christian communities the authorities apprehended the men in 2016 and they're assisted local journalists with military instruct strike information the military alleged that both men supported the kitchen independents Army a false allegation that landed the both in prison for revealing the true about the military's discriminate attacks on civilians and people of faith both were released justice last April there were also a very well known story chin where two kitchen batches women were raped and murdered in 2015 January 2013 while serving as volunteers in the school in northern Shan state their case remains unsolved although there's lots of witnesses that say that there was the military that was involved in that crime the non ethnic areas in Burma also gives struggle with Buddhist hate speech and citing violence the government enforcing ridiculously strict anti-defamation laws and now it appears that nonsense uchi is not the head of the civilian government is not tolerating prison criticism or dissent well there's so much more about Burma it's like I said through a real quick that I I could go in but really you know the the point that we saw was the worst atrocities are in the area where there are armed conflicts in the religious areas or there are armed conflicts you know the Commission has recommended again that Pharma be designated as a country particular concern at the State Department for their systematic ongoing and egregious violations of religious freedom and really thank you so much for your time [Applause] thank you so much our next speaker is Reverend dr. Andrew Bennett he serves as a senior fellow and director of the North American Action Team are the religious freedom Institute he's also a senior fellow at cartas Canada's faith-based think tank for his program director of Karnas law which looks at the role of law in society with a particular focus on early religious freedom in Canada he's trying thanks very much John it's a pleasure to be with you this morning I want to focus on the situation in Ukraine pool is already referenced to bits I'm also a training Greek Catholic Deacons so full disclosure they're not simply a Harry Potter impersonator a little bit of background on the toy plates first and then the impact its had on the freedom of religion but I don't I don't want to focus only on the negative in conference that this tragic situation has found on religious freedom I also want to highlight some rather surprising positive impacts the current conflict that in roils Russia and Ukraine is one which is brought untold suffering in Ukraine's Donbass region and in the Russian annexed Crimean Peninsula it's also I would say brought into sharp focus the existential reality of Ukraine in terms of its sovereignty its political stability its economy and I would say in a way that perhaps unlike any other other European conflict since the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia it is a conflict that has had a direct impact on the religious character of the country and on the religious practice of its people and we heard from pastor on all of those Cain and Abel that famous story of brother against brother that is the Russian and Ukrainian conflict in nutshell these are Orthodox Christians that have their roots in the establishment of a Christian civilization at Kiev in ruse in 1988 that are fighting another so it's particularly tragic and that there's a fratricidal element to it according to the Council of Foreign Relations since the beginning of the Russian incursion into the Donbass region in eastern Ukraine in April 2014 the conflict between the Ukrainian army and Russian backed separatists let's prepare in mind this is not a civil war this is about the Ukrainian army defending its territory from Russian incursion it's about Russian aggression the rest back suffered is this conflict has led to some ten thousand three hundred deaths 24 thousand injured in addition it's estimated that one and a half million Ukrainians are now internally displaced within Ukraine have been forced out of that region in eastern Ukraine and again these figures have resulted from Ukrainian forces fighting a defensive campaign wholly within Ukraine sovereign territory against an external aggressor and it's proxies with in eastern Ukraine the four-year long conflict has brought with it a deterioration in the religious freedom of Ukrainians living in Crimea and in the dog bus the illegal Russian annexation of Crimea was soon occu accompanied by vandalism intimidation and suppression by the occupying authorities against what was then the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the key of patriarch it and its clergy along with the clergy of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church Rus and restrictions and all religious groups other than the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate rendered the Ukrainian Orthodox Church at that time of the key of a surrogate and Greek Catholic leaders essentially as strangers in their own land similar Crimean Tatars Tatar Muslims were met with attacks and the force dissolution of their legitimate representative body the bestest and the Exile of their leaders this is something that few sir has documented quite extensively in his 2018 report on religious freedom in Russia you serve details that in the dawn bus the early days of occupation fraught with and kidnappings torture and robberies of members of Nod Moscow Patriarchate religious communities Russian backed insurgents seized and continued to hold more than 50 church buildings belonging to the at that time Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kenneth a dragon le Orthodox Church of Ukraine and the Ukrainian Catholic Church in the present conflict those members of minority religious communities remaining in occupied areas in particular Baptists and accost holes Greek Catholics Mormons Jo's Witnesses are subject to regular intimidation arrests fines and a subject to officials slander for their beliefs the insurgents that are control of these so-called hunts and the let's people's Republic's events a very deep suspicion of all those who are not members of the crane inor thoughts Church of the Moscow Patriarchate it's a very dire situation I won't get into all the various types of violations of religious freedom you can read users reports you can look also at the State Department report on religious freedom that the country profile on Ukraine and also Russia so it's a very great situation but in the time that I have remaining I want to focus on two positive developments one great one small that have emerged out of this situation war is never good even in situations of just war there's great suffering but in this situation we have in Ukraine in the midst of such a period instability a significant historical development has murders which the tokens I would say healing within the Ukrainian nation a healing within the churches of Kiev ruse that converted to Christianity back in 90 days we look back to the days of the Maidan revolution in early 2014 a revolution that has been christened in Ukrainian as that it would see in muscle so the revolution of dignity it might say the revolution of human dignity it was characterized above all by almost continual public prayer led by the majority of Ukraine's faith communities and there's a very broad diversity of faith communities of Ukraine I'll come back to that in a minute this strong religious character of Ukraine has been present throughout the conflict in the base of Russian aggression in the explicit support of the Moscow Patriarchate for Russian actions the acquaintance Orthodox faithful and clergy have been exercising a degree of a collegial choice that pole referenced and freedom not seen since the 1990s many have been leaving the Moscow Patriarchate cleaning Orthodox Church and moved towards with us now the Orthodox Church crane which is a union of the previous Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the patriarchal and the Ukrainian amount of cephalus Orthodox Church you think Protestantism the United States is complex well come to Ukraine and jurisdictional disputes are legendary the granting of canonical status to these two churches that came together in October 2018 by the ecumenical patriarch of constantinople patriarch bartholomew who enjoys a primeval status amongst orthodox helped to resolve this matter his actually responded to the wishes of those Orthodox faithful and clergy Ukraine who saw the legitimate home at the side of the Moscow Patriarchate the much parallel unification of these two churches in December 2018 into this new Orthodox Church of Ukraine the first truly national autocephalous independent orthodox church has healed of fracture within that church of kiev in truce and we should be happy about this because there's an element of choice these people want to be in this United Church the Orthodox Church of Ukraine can emerge as a strong unifying force in Ukraine and again I'm not of that church so I'm not I don't have a special bias here but I do think it's an important development Ukraine unlike Russia has always embraced that greater religious pluralism with many different churches broadest in the clio communities and non-christian communities especially the now revived Jewish community and sees like cave and Levine indeed if we use the Donetsk region alone as an example at the beginning of 2014 before the Russian occupation they were almost 1,800 different religious organizations in the net in the Donetsk region 762 Orthodox parishes of the Moscow Patriarchate 366 evangelical Christian communities Pentecostals charismatics 186 Baptist churches 86 Orthodox parishes of the Kevin paper 83 Tuomas Witnesses organizations 49 seventh-day Adventist churches 38 Muslim communities 36 Greek Catholic parishes 19 Jewish communities 14 Buddhist communities and even eight Krishna followers communities just in one region of eastern Ukraine this I think is important to remark upon that I think we should be supporting Ukraine during this period to encourage that robust a nomination ilysm Ukraine's multiple ecclesial bodies churches and fades is a great strength and reveals again I think this robust pluralism is something that must be supported but the Ukrainian state has a duty in terms of recognized with registry and supporting it and there have been some worrying signs around the state trying to control this to advance certain agendas and we need to call them to account for that finally a surprising small development in this period of conflict as the premium forces began to set up small camps outside of villages in the Donbass region to fight the Russian insurgency they dug these very small field chapels about a third of which were sort of dug out from the ground and then a small dome little tiny Byzantine church put over top and these were typically churches that were administered by the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church or now the Orthodox Church of Ukraine and they kept them awaiting villages so they wouldn't the coaches would be a target but what they found in many villages in eastern Ukraine where often they hadn't had a priest and in church there are years the faithful from those villages found out about these small channels and came over to them despite the risk to receive the sacraments some of them hadn't been able to go to confession for three years some of them hadn't been able to receive the Eucharist in over a year or two years and these little field Chavez became field spiritual hospitals for these faithful people and allowed them to exercise their religious freedom in the midst of this conflict so conflict causes great harm as we know but they can also be these little green shoots of poetry and expressions of religious freedom that can also result thank you very much for your time and last but not least Christina Arriaga she has worked on the defense of religious freedom or believe the United States internationally for over 20 years as an adviser to the United States delegation at the United Nations Human Rights Commission and appointee to the Civil Rights Commission and the executive director of a us-based public interest law firm it defends all religious traditions please welcome her to the table I would also like to thank those who said a little prayer as I went being cold that I'm gonna fall behind the stage it was a very scary moment for me thank you very much to the committee for Responsible foreign policy and the Bruderhof not only for hosting this event but for being ahead of its time after a three-day historical gathering you've managed to have these tremendous intellectual worldwide powerhouses of discuss what happens to religious sites and and now I'm very honored to sit with experts on the topic of religious freedom but I also like to thank you for making us think about this topic not much as being written about warfare and its impact and religious freedom and war as we think about it most people would assume conventional war but as cole has indicated there many kinds of war and as Nadine brilliantly explained for instance in Burma there there was an erosion of rights and respect to religious freedom before there was a breakout of war so again thank you for having us think about these topics as you all know the Ministerial just said that yesterday it was the largest religious freedom gathering in the world and in fact in history I'm sure there'll be some numbers put out but my understanding there were a hundred and six countries participating and 31 of them I'm told by Kelly Boyle this year the communications director at the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom 31 of them signed a resolution to protect religious sites and that is that great news particularly given the recent terrorist attacks on several religious sites around the world I'd like to turn my attention briefly to the tragedy of war in Iraq because of its worldwide repercussions for Christians around the world and for and specifically for that region I'm sure you know I I know there are some theologians in the in the crowd and I hope that we can have an interesting discussion about this later but as you know after Palestine Israel Iraq has the most biblical history in the world Adam and Eve are widely thought to have lived in southern Iraq and the Christians in Iraq are considered to be one of the oldest continuous communities in the world in fact the majority of Iraqi Christians are indigenous Eastern Aramaic speaking ethnic Iraqi Assyrians that's a mouthful but mostly story most historians agree that Jesus spoke a dialect of Aramaic so it's very probable that some of these original Christian communities in Iraq speak a similar dialect to the one that Jesus spoke when he walked on earth the patriarch Abraham was from Brook in southern Iraq Rebecca was from Northwest Iraq Jacob's sons the 12 tribes of Israel they were all born in Iraq and I can continue to to give you examples and I would encourage you to look at the fascinating history in Iraq but the bottom line is before Islam before Islam when Iraq was missile potamia most of that region was Christian or Jewish so this is a place where Christianity was essentially born aside from Israel so what happens when you have this war and again like Nadine explained in Burma Iraq went through several stages of war some conventional some conventional Wars the war happens in Iraq and at the time they were apparently about 1.5 to 2 million Christians we don't know for sure because there hasn't been a sentence in over 30 years today 120,000 Christians left in Iraq hundred and twenty thousand Christians and why is that important I mean it's important for Christians but also because religious minorities test the country's tolerance for pluralism and a healthy liberal democracy protects vulnerable groups and allows them to participate freely in society so this the presence of Christians in Iraq is the litmus test for the entire region and I would argue for the world Iraq isn't a bad neighborhood you have Iran right next to it you have Syria Turkey you have a lot of countries that will either follow the lead of Iraq in terms of establish and pluralism or not I was in Iraq last year and the communities with which I'm a Duenas city communities Turkmen Christians were all delighted that the United States government had decided to assist them and had a series of legislative projects to ensure that they were receiving funding the Vice President himself made several announcements about this and the communities have been getting some assistance however we have another kind of warfare right now and that is bad governance from Baghdad bad governance is a form of warfare bad governance is a form of complicity Baghdad has not been a good partner to this effort to protect minorities or in investing in genocide recovery in fact Baghdad has made the pmf's the popular okay we use acronyms so often in Washington popular my legs I forgot what he sent popular mobilize forces so in 2014 and Imams came out and asked for the youth to to join in fighting back Isis and as a result hundreds of thousands of young people in Iraq joined these militias these militias we're not well organized there were didn't have weapons in math training and Iran saw this as a great opportunity so they came in with resources and training and came in and trained these PMS what happens now these pmf's largely thugs are in charge of minority communities in Iraq and they have grown so big that they're bigger than the Iraq actual army so please the United States government has been and other nations have been asking Baghdad to become a good partner in this and ringing the pmf's to make them part of their own army instead the Iraqi government has made the PMF part of its own coalition by allow them to function with impunity sadly what this means is unless the United States and the international community steps in I we will allow the Iraqi government to finish what Isis started I noticed a shocking thing to say but currently the only hope for that region in the world is Christians are able to go back to their communities and your seas are able to go back to their communities and live with security and with jobs and in economic prosperity but that must think that the world doesn't care and when they run out of money the IMF will give them loans we cannot allow that to happen I argued earlier this week at a talk at USAID that the government in Baghdad must be treated like an international pariah until they stop financing iran-backed militias and support genocide recovery this is crucial and he needs to happen within the next few months the only way minority communities are going to start in Iraq after a conventional war is just the war of bad governance in Iraq and ensure that bag that becomes a responsible partner to the Western countries which have given so much hate thank you very much we have about 10 or 11 minutes for a discussion here and since we're in Washington I figured maybe we'll start with a question about American foreign policy it seems like there's coming off the Ministerial like there is a sort of perhaps a newfound zeal to protect religious minorities in the Middle East particularly Christians and so my question for you is I mean it seems like a lot of these problems in Iraq for example were exacerbated or made significantly worse by American intervention in the war on Iraq so I'm curious if is there a recognition or an awareness that some of the problems that were attempting to fix now were actually caused or created or exacerbated by our own foreign policy and in the second component is is there a tension between let's say the American government's strategy to promote religious liberty throughout the world and our foreign policy or national security strategy to the extent that you're allowed are able to answer that I'm curious well let me speak first I remember going to Iraq in 2005 it's only comments I've never gotten to in a bulletproof vest which tells you something about the situation at the time it was a little bit it was I was working on the 2005 Constitution which is probably better than it could have been worse their problems as you know and my you know looking back it's fairly clear that the u.s. made some serious mistakes and how they handled I think it's particularly after country Baghdad and so forth by not allowing by sending the military home to unemployment and by sending the bureaucracy hometown employment you created situation and also letting all the sacred sites be raided and so forth but what might of them something workable class and it's never been workable since so that's my own opinion and I'm just having watch things involving them on the ground so the second question about whether religious liberties consistent with foreign policy or might perhaps a former Commission ever but used to say the u.s. leads by irritation and I think one of the one of the things that we've seen with the material is a hand of just one one person that I think among person in particular who has really had a master at leading without irritation and I'm convinced that religious freedom is good for u.s. foreign policy are explore the book of that the one thing I would say is you have to be careful about how you would lay that on because it makes sense comes audience that is US foreign policy experts but if you say he was going through a u.s. foreign policy to foreigners this day haha so we always suspected a hidden agenda American interests feel neocolonialism etc religious freedom is good for other companies because it reinforces good governance it creates the seeds out of which piece can be crystallized it it as we know from the Republican statistics because Brian Grimm was originally behind them a diagram about the level of restrictions on earth and the increasing level of restrictions but we also know is that religious freedom correlates with all kinds of other social goods and well it's hard to do the social science to show the past ladies correlations them to causation I deeply believe that there are of alignments and that the the greatest hope for dealing with a conflict on earth for moving from Hobbesian war to genuine peace is with the discrete them whatever else happens the only alternatives or fair we have to have religious freedom or we cannot have justice and peace he just the only hot American up here Canadian and it's someone who served in the diplomatic corps leading after some religious freedom from the Canadian perspective I'm not going to comment on US foreign policy but I think one thing we can say about this the tension that exists within foreign policy between promoting human rights such as religious freedom and then promoting certain interests typically we have diplomats and and foreign policy vendors that have a good understanding of a lot of different human rights but often very little understanding of religious freedom and often even worse understanding of faith because the process of formation we have in our countries whether that's Canada or the US United Kingdom is that from secondary school through to post graduate school there's a very little discussion of religion or faith and madelyn operators pretty famous for talking about a cow she really didn't have anybody in the State Department bit adviser on religion and the bottom line is that foreign policy actors have to get religion I don't mean that in the folksy way I mean they have to be able to understand religion not simply by what do Muslims believe what you're persons believe but why do religious people act as they do how does faith inform their actions not simply cultural actions but also how to spay them form their political judgment there's social economic activities and we can't understand that unless when we engage the foreign policy were well-trained and so I think again diplomatic training as essential not simply on the distrito but on the role of faith and why faith is important we come from very secular societies but we're really the outline comes to the rest of the world I think it's really a matter of priorities I think it's really easy the ministerial for us to you know talk about the per diem religious freedom and then there's an emergency in the world and we need an ally to do something for us and then commit egregious violation of religious freedom but yet we need them to do something for us and so maybe that though in Congress that you know calls the novel something shouldn't go through our meat you know so hey that's of the frustration of all of this is it is how hard it is to implement in to prioritize and and I think thinking about the ministerial it's a whisper about religious freedom and and now we talk openly and yell about it and have conversations and governments come and listen to us talk about it and they talk you know so it's not this hidden thing anymore which is just magnificent but it's still a matter of priorities and that's why you know we have just keep going forward and pushing and in figuring out where the lovers are that we could make this a priority and then it isn't left off the table when we're negotiating with a major country about trade you know whatever that it's always a piece of the equation at least it's a piece of the question obviously we'd like it to be a priority piece of the equation of meta keeps the equation I can guess part of the reason they created you sure so there would always be this ringing Bell somewhere that would make it so be harder Christie yeah he'll be in one alt tag on another question for you as well yes he spoke at this conference with the committee here last year so I'm also wondering if there's any areas in the world where you feel progress has been made on the issue of religious freedom since we last both questions okay so just 12 months ago the only country in the world that had a US ambassador at large for religious freedom you know he was the one in Canada briefly the only country in the world that had a person dedicated and sticky parlors religious freedom was was the United States and in the last 12 months I think now they're 13 and boys special envoy for religious freedom I think that the fact that every single foreign minister that participated it was comforted and six countries had to be briefed by someone within its foreign ministry about religious freedom issues every single cable from every single embassy no Humphries has to include considerations of religious freedoms that alone I think makes a huge progress in terms of specific countries it's it's hard to say right one can argue the societies made a few statements and then they it's three steps forward sometimes to five or four back in several countries so without having a big survey you it would be hard to discuss specific cookies but I'm an optimist I think that the idea that we can have robust conversations about these issues without anyone saying what you're saying is offensive or way saying it's blasphemy it's a huge advantage to to the world and back to the American question I could give you a list of a good ten mistakes the United States government made in terms of its policy towards Iran but I can also tell you that before the United States came in there was a ruthless murderous dictator in charge of the country for many years I can also tell you know that we're sitting in the Museum of the Bible which would be legal in the vast majority of countries that you serve covers and the Department of State covers the fact that we're having this discussion without fearing getting arrest on the way out arrested on the way out is it's really miraculous few Americans think about this in terms of their own life most Americans don't understand that what we're doing here is illegal the fact that he's wearing a casa is illegal in many other countries that we're looking at including places like Mexico I'm not just talking like the far away countries and and in Quebec I didn't want to say it because you're here and the thing is you can kick me under the table so that's I move my feet away as soon as you set your back there's there has there is this the biggest danger to religious right now is the government intrusion into people's lives in encase in the idea of business for security reasons or you should not offend anyone of these blasphemy laws and in the United States the idea that if you if what you say is offensive offends me in any way you cannot say it and therefore we cannot have a discussion about it are you racing a generation of people who live in their own minds yeah to quote an LaMotte my mind is a place you talk about neighborhood where I would rather not be alone so in the Western row we have to we have to be ahead and that's why these discussions are so important and challenge our use and our students to think about this is just seriously just think about what is true not what is my truth what is my thing what is fate what is truth how does like it or not we're superpower darn if you do darn you don't so thank you thankful win and freedom woman and when it's the darkest and the light shines the brightest so keep on going everybody in terms that we're talking about policy but in terms of engaging our own religious or church communities with these issues do you have any recommendations or what have you perhaps found that the Bruderhof to be successful say the hardest question for last recommendations I think it keep coming together we need to discuss these issues it was very enlightening to hear what you all had to say and there's a lot happening and so I think the more people come together talk about these issues and make little little steps forward in our neighborhoods we act locally and think globally I think one thing that's really fair and obvious is that work in this area of religious freedom has to be done with others if you go at it alone it's special pleading if you go out up with others it's principled and deserves respect and wins respect so I think we need to continue finding more ways such as this to bring people together people from who may disagree theologically but who understand the existential significance of freedom and religious freedom and that the peace comes we don't need to be homogeneous at peace what we need is confidence that other people will respect us and our dignity just as we respect there's any last word just on the question of sort of domestic religious freedom we have to have robust for the discreet of at home if we're going to presume to comment on religious freedom overseas and I think all of us that work in this area are well-acquainted with that principle but we have to remember too as we engage our own faith communities whether it's in the US or Canada wherever to remind people almost we present to them what religious freedom is religious freedom is about public faith we're always free in the forum in town and we're always free in our inner life of faith the holy apostle paul also Peter were in prison at various times they were no less free so we need to re-engage people and say that religious freedoms are publicly living out your faith if we don't do that if we don't exercise the responsibilities attached to religious freedom then it begins to become impoverished and we forget how to live it out and therefore down the road we forget how to engage others it goes back to my previous comments on training in our so remember to live out a robust religious freedom at home so we can engaged others to help them overseas run a society where you know the right knee issues if the headlines gets the hits get the questions get its social media posts in a thoughtful post I mean we've all been there right on social media where you post something thoughtful and no one likes it where you know something else that was a little you know everyone was engaged and so I think we just have to be proactive because religious freedom can be cast in the negative read be kind of way by the media or by the people that are using it for their whatever advantage that gives them where what we need to be having is thoughtful conversations because so many of Americans don't think about international religious freedom at all it just doesn't show up in their news feeds it doesn't it's not a part of their community of the way they talk and I think being intentional and things like this being intentional how we communicate in order to raise awareness because what we need is awareness of it like Senator Santorum so the Congress will care for pressure you know we if we're doing this on our own in an echo chamber we're not going to see the kind of results we can see if we were engaging a broader part of our community old politics are local all politics are local so talking to your fries your rabbi yeah the leader of your community about these issues in the mind is not a logic processor is a story processor so telling the stories of why this important I saw pastor Jim here earlier his his wife was tortured because she met with David Saperstein and now he is free from good mountain here in the United States I think there there's people all around us that where we should be telling the stories I'm illustrating but the dangers aren't for this country thank you great thanks let's give another round of applause

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