Diverse U.S. Faith Leaders Join Forces For National Religious Freedom Conference

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Summit Will Show United Front against Threats to Religious Liberty


WASHINGTON, May 22, 2013—Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, Shaykha Reima Yosif, and Rabbi Meir Soloveichik may have significant differences when it comes to religion and theology.   But on May 30 in Washington, D.C., these U.S. faith leaders - alongside other representatives of the Catholic, evangelical Christian, mainline Protestant, Latter-day Saint, Eastern Orthodox, Jewish Orthodox, Seventh-day Adventist, Muslim and Sikh faith communities - will set aside religious and political differences in the defense and promotion of religious freedom in America. The second annual National Religious Freedom Conference, hosted by the American Religious Freedom Program of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, will bring together leaders from major U.S. faith groups and legislators from both major parties to strategize and build consensus around religious-freedom efforts across the country.

“At a time when government restrictions and social hostility against religion are increasing in America, members and leaders of all faiths are indeed coming together to reaffirm the integral role religious diversity plays in our nation,” said Brian Walsh, executive director of the American Religious Freedom Program. 

Key conference speaker Rodriguez, evangelical founder of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, concurred: “People of all faiths come to America because it has been a land of hope where they may practice their religious beliefs without government interference or coercion. We must resist every threat to religious freedom and ensure that people of faith remain free to establish equality and justice throughout society.” 

Some 200 faith representatives, policy leaders and state legislators from across the country are expected to attend the one-day, invitation-only conference—themed “Many Faiths, One America”— that will see major addresses from Rev. Rodriguez, Rabbi Soloveichik and Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett, representing the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice. (Dr. Lantos Swett also chairs the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.)

Shaykha Reima Yosif, founder of Al-Rawiya Foundation, noted, "With over 250 million Americans today professing a wide diversity of faiths, we must remain united in our desire for peace and freedom. It's more important than ever that people of faith everywhere stand together for First Amendment rights and celebrate religious liberty, America's most fundamental freedom."

Top faith and government leaders will brief participants on threats facing religious freedom in America today and on bipartisan, multifaith efforts to enact new protections for religious liberty and rights of conscience. Attendees will also hear from state lawmakers representing more than 15 states, many of whom have enacted important religious freedom protections in 2013.

The National Religious Freedom Conference award dinner will honor The Brookings Institution’s William A. Galston with the 2013 American Religious Freedom Award. Galston’s achievement comes on the 20-year anniversary of the landmark Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). As a senior advisor to President Bill Clinton, Galston was instrumental in shepherding RFRA into federal law, and he has defended it with brilliance and great civility. Dr. Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission will be on hand to present the award, which was given last year to Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore.

About the American Religious Freedom Program

The Ethics and Public Policy Center’s American Religious Freedom Program is a nonprofit program devoted to protecting and strengthening all Americans' First Amendment rights to the free exercise of religion. The program brings together individuals and organizations of all religious faiths, regardless of ideology or political affiliation.

MEDIA NOTE: Media are invited to cover the May 30 event and will have the opportunity to interview religious leaders at a 9:30 a.m. ET media Q&A session. Click here to view a conference fact sheet containing the latest agenda and speaker line-up. RSVP to Chandler Epp with The DeMoss Group at cepp@demossgroup.com, 770.813.0000 or 404.536.0678 mobile.



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