ON-Lion Letter

At a time of increasing oppression and persecution against Christian communities in various parts of the world, "Under Caesar's Sword:  An International Conference on Christian Responses to Persecution" will be held at the Pontifical Urbaniana University in Rome in December.  The conference is jointly organized by the Center for Civil & Human Rights at the University of Notre Dame and the Religious Freedom Project (RFP) at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace & World Affairs at Georgetown UniversityThe Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in Milwaukee supports RFP.  Baylor University's Institute for Studies of Religion and the Community of Sant'Egidio will co-sponsor the event.

"We are in the midst of a deepening crisis, which has unleashed new violence and oppression against Christians in Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Iran, India, China, Vietnam, Nigeria, and many other countries," according to RFP director Thomas Farr.  "At this moment in history, religious repression is remarkably widespread.  Indeed, the Pew Research Center estimates that some 77 percent of the world’s population lives in a religiously repressive country.

"To be sure, Christians are not the only victims of persecution," Farr continues.  "Think only of Baha'is in Iran, the Falun Gong and the Uyghur Muslims in China, and the Ahmadiyya communities in Pakistan and Indonesia.  All suffer violations of human dignity.  Still, today Christians constitute by far the most widely persecuted religious group.  The International Society for Human Rights estimated in 2009 that Christians are the victims of 80 percent of all acts of religious discrimination in the world, a finding that is corroborated by separate human rights observatories.
"The main objective of the conference is to introduce the results of the world's first systematic global investigation into the responses of Christian communities to the violation of their right to religious freedom," he writes. "As part of our initiative, researchers representing the world's leading scholars of Christianity in their respective regions are studying some 100 beleaguered Christian communities in 30 countries."

The events plenary speakers will include Bradley Prize recipient Mary Ann Glendon and George Weigel of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, which is also supported by Bradley.

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