2012 National Religious Freedom Conference


To fight for the protection of religious freedoms in the face of threats by aggressively secularist elected officials, bureaucrats and judges, a diverse group of religious leaders joined together at the National Religious Freedom Conference, Rising Threats to American Religious Freedom, to establish a unified effort surrounding the recent and unprecedented wave of threats that go to the heart of religious freedoms.

“Since the founding of our Nation, we have never before witnessed threats of this magnitude from all levels of government.  Citizens who care about this fundamental American right must take action to protect it,” said Archbishop William E. Lori, Archbishop of Baltimore, Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and key advisor to ARFP and the conference keynote speaker.

Current threats to religious freedom range from the recent United States Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate requiring religious employers and individuals to pay for contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs, to government officials’ efforts to force individuals to perform health care procedures, dispense drugs or make moral affirmations that violate religion and conscience.  Federal and state officials have also begun attacking a cherished and previously unquestioned American freedom – the right of individuals to join together and choose their leaders based on their religious faith.

The National Religious Freedom Conference brought together experts and key state officials including elected leaders, policy leaders and religious leaders, for the purpose of defending religious freedom for all Americans.  The conference educated and energized participants about the current wave of threats against religious liberties and helped build a coordinated force in individual states.

The conference included five sessions and a gala reception and award dinner.

Session 1: Shredding the Fabric of Freedom and Peaceful Pluralism?

  • Professor Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence, Princeton University
  • Moderator: Dr. Thomas F. Farr, Director, Religious Freedom Project, Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs, Georgetown University

Session 2: Unprecedented Threats to American Religious Freedom and Rights of Conscience

  • Nathan J. Diament, Executive Director of Public Policy, Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America
  • William A. Galston, Senior Fellow, The Ezra K. Zilkha Chair in Governance Studies, Brookings Institution
  • Dr. Richard Land, President, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention
  • Dr. Donald W. Landry, Samuel Bard Professor of Medicine; Chair, Department of Medicine; Physician-in-Chief, New York Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University
  • Hannah Smith, Senior Counsel, The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty
  • Moderator: Professor Gerard V. Bradley, University of Notre Dame Law School

Session 3: Uniting to Preserve Robust Freedoms

  • Elder L. Whitney Clayton, Presidency of the Seventy, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
  • The Most Reverend Salvatore J. Cordileone, Bishop of Oakland
  • Dr. Timothy George, Dean and Professor of Divinity, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University
  • The Very Reverend Dr. Chad Hatfield, Chancellor/CEO and Professor of Missiology, St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary
  • Rabbi Dr. Meir Y. Soloveichik, Director, Zahava and Moshael Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought, Yeshiva University
  • Moderator: Professor Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence, Princeton University

Session 4: Legislative Action to Constrain Overreaching Officials

  • Honorable J. Kenneth Blackwell, Senior Fellow, Family Research Council and former Secretary of State of Ohio
  • Honorable Lance Kinzer, Kansas House of Representatives
  • Tim Schultz, State Legislative Policy Director, American Religious Freedom Program, Ethics and Public Policy Center
  • Moderator: Honorable Michael Leavitt, Former HHS Secretary and Governor of Utah

Session 5: Defending the 200-Year Tradition of Religious Diversity and Freedom for U.S. Soldiers and Veterans

  • Major General (Ret.) Douglas Carver, Former U.S. Army Chief of Chaplains
  • Colonel Jacob Goldstein, Chaplain, U.S. Army Reserve
  • Kelly Shackelford, President and CEO, Liberty Institute
  • Moderator: Matthew J. Franck, Director, William E. and Carol G. Simon Center on Religion and the Constitution, Witherspoon Institute


Keynote Speaker

The Most Reverend William E. Lori

Archbishop-designate of Baltimore; Chairman, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty

Master of Ceremonies

Eric Metaxas

best-selling author of Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy