Living Questions: What Does "Religious Freedom" Really Mean? | WYPR

Living Questions: What Does "Religious Freedom" Really Mean?

Oct 12, 2017

Religion scholars Asma Uddin, Rev. Dr. Serene Jones
Credit Photos courtesy Asma Uddin, Union Theological Seminary

Welcome to another edition of Living Questions, our monthly series on the role of religion in the public sphere, which we produce in collaboration with the Institute for Islamic, Christian and Jewish Studies.

Today: a conversation about religious freedom in the United States.  President Donald Trump continues to advocate for restricting access to the US for Muslims from certain countries, and he nominated Sam Brownback, a strict religious conservative, to head the Office of International Religious Freedom in the State Department.  Mr. Brownback, the highly unpopular governor of Kansas, will leave that post with the Kansas economy in tatters, but his appointment to oversee religious freedom world-wide is being hailed by evangelicals - and others - as a good choice.  Perhaps his most well-known involvement with a religious freedom case in the US is his advocacy for a Kansas florist who refused to make an arrangement for a same sex couple’s wedding. What does that portend for America’s posture in other countries where LGBT citizens face discrimination? 

Joining Tom today to discuss "religious freedom" in America today:  The Rev. Dr. Serene Jones. She is the president of the Union Theological Seminary in New York. She is the first woman to head the historic institution.  She also holds the Johnston Family Chair for Religion and Democracy at UTS. She is the Immediate Past President of the American Academy of Religion, and she served for 17 years on the faculty of Yale University.  She joins us from Argot Studios in New York.

Asma Uddin joins us as well.  She is the founder and editor-in-chief of altmuslimah.com, and the co-founder of altFem Magazine and altVentures Media, Inc. She is a lawyer and a scholar who speaks frequently about American and international religious liberty.   She speaks to us from NPR Studios in Washington, D.C.

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The ICJS and the Jewish Museum of Maryland are co-sponsoring a community event on Thursday, October 19th at 7pm called "Religious communities under attack: What can you do to end hate in Baltimore?"  The event, at the Jewish Museum of Maryland, is free and open to the public, but you must register online in advance. Find the link on the ICJS website.