According to familiar accounts, religious liberty emerged both as an antidote to religious violence and as a tool for promoting social stability and peace. Historical origins in the wars of religion, however, do not explain contemporary threats to global and national security which are justified in the name of religious teachings and convictions. Responding to acts of violence, and especially to religiously inspired terrorist acts and threats, constitutes a genuine constitutional and security challenge for contemporary Western democracies. At the same time, when governments impose restrictions on religious freedom in the name of protecting national security and public safety, such restrictions often affect the legitimate exercise of religious liberty. Moreover, empirical evidence suggests that such restrictions may be counterproductive, in that they all too often fuel a downward cycle of radicalization, further religious violence, and compounded violations of religious liberty. Although religious traditions differ on the extent to which they prescribe or tolerate violence, such doctrinal disputes and details bring little consolation to victims of terrorism who urge governments to crack down on religious extremism. The conference will explore the delicate balance between religious freedom and security. Speakers will test the utility and limits of a human rights based approach, and will also explore secular and faith-based perspectives on pressing contemporary problems.
Please find attached the detailed program of the conference: