Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett Honored at Seventh Annual International Religious Liberty Dinner
L-R: D: Gordon Smith, Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett,
In her acceptance speech, Swett told audience members that protecting a robust right of religious freedom is “not just the right thing to do, but almost always the smart thing to do. I think the American experience bears this out.”
Lantos Swett is the president of the Lantos Foundation, an organization created to honor the legacy of her parents. Both her mother and father were Holocaust survivors who spent much of their careers engaged in fighting for human rights and combatting anti-Semitism. Her father, Tom Lantos, was the only Holocaust survivor elected to the U.S. Congress. Today the foundation advocates for basic human rights, including religious freedom, of people across the globe.
Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett
“Failure,” she said, “is not an option.” Religious liberty must be a priority for all nations, Lantos Swett said, because “history has not been kind to those who destroy the religious liberties of others,” and benefits await societies who champion a citizen’s right to worship freely. “There is a strong correlation between a robust protection of religious freedom and stability, prosperity, democracy, and interestingly, higher socioeconomic status for women,” she said.
Dr. David Holland
U.S. Senate Chaplain Barry C. Black
U.S. Senate Chaplain Barry C. Black also participated in the evening’s program, offering the invocation, and music was provided by vocalist Heather Craw. The nascent National Museum of American Religion also offered items from its collection for display.
Among the attendees were scholars and professionals who had recently taken part in the Law and Religion Symposium sponsored by the ICRLS. Dr. Wissam Raji, a professor in number theory at the American University of Beirut, said he especially enjoyed Holland’s remarks. “The research Dr. Holland spoke about goes deep into the connection between human rights and religion,” he said. “You can alleviate issues by trying to find that connection to the benefit of all believers.”
Professor Brett Scharffs, director of the ICLRS, said the Center is “deeply grateful” for its partnership with the JRCLS Mid-Atlantic Chapter. “The J. Reuben Clark Society Chapter in Washington, D.C. continues to thrive and grow,” he said. “Being there is a real treat, an opportunity to rub shoulders with lawyers and former students who are making meaningful professional contributions in a wide variety of ways.” Scharffs said the highlight of the evening was the opportunity to honor and hear from Dr. Lantos Swett. “Katrina Lantos Swett is an absolute treasure,” he said. “Her commitment to human rights in general and freedom of religion and belief in particular is rooted not only in personal family history, but in a long record of empathetic engagement with all people who are persecuted due to their religion or beliefs.”By Brooke Nelson Edwards, Member of District of Columbia Mid-Atlantic Chapter
Posted: November 17, 2016