Creating Communion Between Religion and Human Rights

Creating Communion Between Religion and Human Rights

Presented Thursday, April 8 | 2 p.m. PST 

  • “To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity.” – Nelson Mandela

    While the UN and other international organizations have affirmed the principle of religious freedom as a human right for more than half a century, journalists and human rights groups simultaneously report on the atrocities of global persecution of minority faiths. This suggests government and private actors infringe on religious beliefs and practices around the world. Yet, religion and faith also have a strong influence on shaping human rights policies, both in the United States and abroad. With the transition to a new presidential administration, paired with President Biden's public expression of his personal Catholic faith, policy experts stand waiting to see how the Biden administration takes up the precarious issue of religion and foreign policy.

    Our virtual panel with renowned experts discussed the interplay between human rights and faith, and how Catholicism and other religions influences human rights principles.


    Thomas Farr, President, Religious Freedom Institute 


    Olivia Enos, The Heritage Foundation
    Drew Christiansen, S.J., The Berkley Center at Georgetown University


    This event was presented by the Global Policy Institute at Loyola Marymount University and was co-sponsored by Catholic Studies and the History Department.

    About Loyola Marymount University

    LMU is a private Catholic university with 6,000 undergraduates, 2,200 graduate students and 1,100 law students from diverse backgrounds and many perspectives. Our seven colleges and schools boast best-in-the-nation programs in film and television, business, education and more. Our stunning campus in West Los Angeles is a sun-soaked oasis overlooking the Pacific coast and a model of sustainability. We're rooted in the heart of Los Angeles, a global capital for arts and entertainment, innovation and technology, business and entrepreneurship. Our mission is grounded in a centuries-old Jesuit educational tradition that produces extraordinary men and women dedicated to service and social justice. We're proud of more than 85,000 LMU alumni whose professional achievements are matched by a deep commitment to improving the lives of others.


    The views and opinions expressed by event speakers are those of the individuals and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Global Policy Institute or Loyola Marymount University. Any statements made by speakers are their opinions and are not intended to malign any religion, group, club, organization, company, or individual.

  • Keynote Speaker: Thomas Farr, Religious Freedom Institute

    Tom Farr is the President of the Religious Freedom Institute, a non-profit organization committed to achieving broad acceptance of religious liberty as a fundamental human right. Farr is also a senior fellow at both the Baylor University’s Institute for Studies of Religion and the Witherspoon Institute in Princeton, New Jersey. A leading authority on international religious freedom, Farr served for 28 years in the U.S. Army and the U.S. Foreign Service. In 1999, he became the first director of the State Department's Office of International Religious Freedom. His works include World of Faith and Freedom: Why International Religious Liberty is Vital to American National Security, which has shaped U.S. religious freedom policy.

    Olivia Enos, The Heritage Foundation

    Olivia Enos is a senior policy analyst in the Asian Studies Center at The Heritage Foundation. At The Heritage Foundation, Enos focuses on human rights and national security challenges in Asia. Her research spans a wide range of subjects, including democracy and governance challenges, human trafficking and human smuggling, religious freedom, refugee issues, and other social challenges in the region. Enos has published op-eds for The Washington Post, USA Today, and The Hill, in addition to other outlets. She has also written for scholarly publications, including the Georgetown Journal of International Affairs and Providence: A Journal of Christianity and Foreign Policy.

    Drew Christiansen, Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs

    Drew Christiansen

    Drew Christiansen, S.J., is Distinguished Professor of Ethics and Human Development in Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service and a senior fellow at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs. His current areas of research include nuclear disarmament, nonviolence and just peacemaking, Catholic social teaching, and ecumenical public advocacy. He is a frequent consultant to the Holy See and a member of the steering committee of the Catholic Peacebuilding Network. He also served on the Atlantic Council's Middle East Task Force and on the Holy See delegation that participated in the negotiation of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons during summer 2017. He has published more than 200 articles in five languages. For his service to the Holy Land, Christiansen was named a Canon of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem.

  • This event was the inaugural event of the GPI Faith and Foreign Policy Initiative. To learn more, visit the initiative website.

  • This event was held virtually via Zoom web-conferencing software.

    Here are the event recordings: