J. Reuben Clark Law Society

Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett Addresses Threats To Religious Freedom Across The Globe at the Thirteenth Religion & the Law Symposium

On March 22, 2017, a full audience gathered at Chapman University Law School in Orange, California for the Thirteenth Annual Religion & The Law Symposium. The Symposium featured Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett who spoke on the “Threats To Religious Freedom Across The Globe, and Why It Matters Here In The USA.”  

With her background as the former Chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom and as current President of the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice, Dr. Swett shared several personal accounts of religious people who suffer persecution and intolerance from governments across the globe.  

Dr. Swett highlighted Asia, the Middle East, and Africa as regions where fundamental human rights of speech, association, and religious exercise are not safeguarded. One such example involved Vian Dakhil, who, as a practicing Yazidi and current member of the Iraqi Parliament, issued a demand for the government to stop the genocidal killing of the Yazidi people by the Islamic State.   

Dr. Swett also recounted the story of a 31-year old man named Raif Badawi in Saudi Arabia, who was sentenced by the government to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for “insulting Islam” in writing. Dr. Swett led a social media campaign to #TakeLashes4Raif, in which she challenged the Saudi government to inflict 100 of Badawi’s lashings upon her.

Through these personal accounts, Dr. Swett stressed the need to expand religious freedom as a fundamental human right in nations across the globe. She concluded with an invitation to take action—whether big or small—to fight for religious freedom, both in the United States and abroad. This, she said, would lead to a government more “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

By Boyd C. Johnson, member Orange County Chapter of the JRCLS

Posted: March 31, 2017