Prominent Religious Freedom Attorney and Senior Fellow of the Hudson Institute
Nina Shea is a Senior Fellow of the Hudson Institute, where she directs the Center for Religious Freedom, an entity she founded. Ms. Shea has been a human rights lawyer for 40 years. She works extensively for
the advancement of religious freedom in U.S. foreign policy, as it confronts Islamic extremism, and authoritarian regimes around the world. She advocates on behalf of those persecuted for religious reasons abroad.
She helped launch and lead the coalition to adopt the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998. From 1999 until 2012, she served as a Commissioner on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, appointed seven times by the U.S. House of Representatives. She was also appointed as a U.S.
delegate to the United Nations’ main human rights body by both Republican and Democratic administrations.
She authored or co-authored three books on religious persecution and genocide. Her co-authored book, Silenced, on the threat to freedoms posed by Islamic blasphemy and hate speech codes, was published by Oxford University Press. For over a decade, beginning in 2006, she authored or edited four widely publicized reports on extremist doctrine in Saudi state educational materials, testified in Congress about her findings, traveled to Riyadh to discuss them directly with the ministers of Education, Justice and
Islamic Affairs, and wrote and spoke publicly on the subject until the texts were finally revised.
For seven years ending in 2005, she helped organize and lead a coalition of churches and religious groups that worked to end a religious war against non Muslims and dissident Muslims in Sudan. From 2003 until 2018, she wrote about and built coalitions to redirect American aid to persecuted Middle Eastern Christians and Yazidis and played a leading role in pressing for the U.S. designation of genocide against these religious minorities by ISIS, in 2016. She frequently testifies at Congressional hearings and briefings. Her research and analysis formed the basis of a bill on persecution in Nigeria, introduced
into Congress, in 2023. She writes on international religious freedom concerns in The Wall Street Journal, National Review, Foreign Affairs, First Things, and other outlets. She organizes strategy working groups, conferences, briefings, and podcasts.
She has briefed American presidents, secretaries of state and other officials on her original research and analysis concerning the plight of Middle Eastern Christians, Nigerian Islamist terror, China’s religious oppression, and other issues. During the Cold War, Shea’s first client before the United Nations was Soviet Nobel Peace Laureate Andrei Sakharov. In a one-on-one meeting in the Oval Office, she briefed President Ronald Reagan on religious persecution by Nicaragua’s Sandinista regime. She was involved in efforts that aided and rescued Christians and others from the Taliban in Afghanistan.
She is a member of the Knights of Malta. She serves as an expert adviser for the International Catholic Legislators Network, based in Vienna. She is a founding member of the Clarity Coalition, promoting Western Muslim voices for freedom, and serves on the steering committee of the annual
International Religious Freedom Summit in Washington, DC. She was honored with awards by the Alliance Defending Freedom, the Ahmadi Muslim Community USA, the Benedict Leadership Institute at Belmont Abbey College, and the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.