IIRF is involved in launching the Institute for the Study of the History of Religious Freedom (IHRF) in Oxford
The first part of the opening of the Institute for the History of Religious Freedom took place in the House of Lords. Lord Andrew Green, Baron of Deddington, spoke on the importance of parliamentarians for religious freedom worldwide. Mervyn Thomas of CSW represented the Religious Liberty Partnership, of which he is chairman. Lord Green was the British Ambassador to Arab countries for many years and headed the Middle East Department at the British Foreign Office.
The heading of Prof. Dr. Thomas Schirrmacher’s lecture was “State Abuses Church, Church Abuses State, Iran and Saudi Arabia in Comparison”.
The second part of the Institute’s opening took place at Regent’s Park College in Oxford. The Principal of the Regent’s Park College, Dr Robert Ellis, recalled how appropriately the location had been chosen, as the first authors to promote religious freedom were British Baptists whose portrait paintings were not accidentally hung in the college’s dining room.
The guest of honour was Roberto de Lucena, the new Chair of the Parliamentary Front for Religious Freedom in Brazil of the Brazilian Federal Parlament. Roberto de Lucena has been a member of parliament for the Green Party since 2011 and, after his third re-election in 2018, was elected head of the transparency office of the House of Representatives, which aims to uncover and combat corruption in Brazilian federal politics. In 2019 de Lucena was appointed a member of the Brazilian representation in the Mercosur Parliament (PARLASUL), the association of about 12 South American states.
In his inaugural lecture, Prof. Dr. Thomas Schirrmacher dealt with the question of why the Baptists of all people, with Thomas Helwys in 1611 and Leonard Busher in 1614, were the first to demand full religious freedom in the modern sense. He sees a close connection to adult baptism. “Baptists stand up for the religious freedom of their children, who are not to be forced to believe in Jesus Christ, but must decide for themselves,” Schirrmacher said literally. The freedom of one’s own children as a starting point is the most radical form of religious freedom.
Uziel Santana and Thomas Schirrmacher, the first two directors of the IHRF, became Visiting Members of the Senior Common Room of Regent’s Park College at Oxford University.
On the same day, two other professors gave guest lectures at the Academy for Parliamentarians and Lawyers. The medical professor Dr. Martin Allaby ministered on his special field “Inequality, Corruption and Freedom of Religion,” a subject in which he is an expert and has been dedicating himself to research for some decades, especially in Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, Vietnam, the Philippines, Kenya, Zambia and Peru. Allaby teaches at the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence in London and is currently developing an office programme for the United Nations to combat poverty in Nepal.
Dr. Stephanie Berry, Professor of Public Law at the University of Sussex, spoke on “Multiculturalism, Tolerance and Religious Diversity”. Her research focuses on the rights of religious and immigrant minorities in Europe under international law. She already wrote her dissertation on minority rights for Muslims throughout Europe.
Thomas Schirrmacher at his inaugural lecture on the founding of the IHRF © BQ/Warnecke Thomas Schirrmacher at his inaugural lecture on the founding of the IHRF © BQ/Warnecke Supporters and Founders of the IHRF in the Entrance Area of the British Parliament © BQ/Warnecke Hearing at the House of Lord’s (from left) Lord Andrew Green, Baron of Deddington, Mervyn Thomas, Thomas Schirrmacher © BQ/Warnecke The Rector of Regent’s Park College, Dr. Robert Ellis, at his opening address © BQ/Warnecke Roberto de Lucena at his opening speech © BQ/Warnecke Robert Ellis (left) and Uziel Santana © BQ/Warnecke Supporters and founders of IHRF at Regent’s Park College in Oxford © BQ/Warnecke The entrance coat of arms of Regent’s Park College of Oxford University © BQ/Warnecke The Courtyard of Regent’s Park College of Oxford University © BQ/Warnecke The Regent’s Park College of Oxford University © BQ/Warnecke Thomas Schirrmacher at the entrance of Regent’s Park College at Oxford University © BQ/Warnecke Thomas Schirrmacher in conversation with Prof. Dr. Stephanie Berry, University of Sussex © BQ/Warnecke In conversation (from left) Uziel Santana, Roberto de Lucena, Thomas Schirrmacher © BQ/Warnecke T. Schirrmacher in the courtyard of the British Parliament in front of Prime Minister May’s official car during the Brexit debate © BQ/Warnecke The Logo of the IHRF