Father Deacon Andrew Bennett served as Canada's first (and so far, only) Ambassador for Religious Freedom from 2013-2016. He joins us to discuss his time as a diplomat championing religious liberty, the duty for governments to defend this essential human right, and how the future of religious freedom will ultimately depend on the faithful having the courage and the capacity to truly understand and publicly live out the truths of the Gospel.
Fr. Dcn. Bennett currently serves as Senior Fellow at the Religious Freedom Institute in Washington, DC, and Director of the Religious Freedom Institute and Faith Community Engagement at Cardus in Ottawa, Canada.
0:00 - Introduction
2:45 - The vision for an Office of Religious Freedom
6:00 - Stationery, furniture, Prime Minister's support - getting the Office off the ground
5:30 - Assessing the global state of religious freedom - where to begin?
8:05 - Government restrictions and social hostility - the religious freedom litmus test
13:10 - The delicate diplomatic dance of outreach to freedom's worst offenders
16:00 - Friends in the fight for freedom - Canada, the United States and Europe
19:50 - Why prioritize religious freedom?
25:15 - Meanwhile, back at home - religious freedom and freedom of conscience in Canada
29:30 - Getting your own house in order first
29:50 - Fundamental freedoms - inherent within us or gift of the State?
35:30 - Threats to religious freedom on the home front today
41:30 - Religious freedom and the challenges of COVID
47:10 - An opportunity for the laity
48:25 - Hope for the future (and a powerful story of Christian witness amidst persecution)
53:35 - Conclusion
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Father Deacon Andrew Bennett
Religious Freedom Institute
Office of International Religious Freedom (USA)
United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (UCIRF)
Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief (United Nations)
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Berkley Centre for Religion, Peace and World Affairs (Georgetown University)
A Closer Look at How Religious Restrictions Have Risen Around the World (Pew Research)
Dignitatis Humanae - Declaration on Religious Freedom (Vatican II)
Dr. Brian Bird, "The ban on in-person worship continues in BC." Vancouver Sun, 1 January 2021
This podcast has been edited for length and clarity.