On April 19, TEDx, a global knowledge movement where speakers give "the talk of their lives" in 18 minutes or less, will for the first time focus on religious freedom.
The speakers range from Muslim graffiti artist Mohammed Ali to Sister Alicia Vacas fighting human trafficking in the Middle East, and from Cuban-born pop singer Gloria Estefan to former NBA basketball star Vlade Divac. Architect Daniel Libeskind will describe his Freedom Tower that is rising out of the ashes of 9/11 at Ground Zero, and Wenzong Wang will introduce his project providing free education for tribal children in Southwestern China.
A rabbi, a cardinal, an astronomer, a friar and a social scientist kick off the event, looking at networks for common ground.* Indeed, a forthcoming Pew Research study finds much room for common ground - members of one religion or another have faced harassment due to religion or belief in 93% of countries worldwide. Because no religion is immune to harassment, religious differences that can divide give way to the common ground of shared concerns.
Why Religious Freedom? Organizer (or "Curator" in TEDx terms) Giovanna Abbiati explains, "This theme is important if we want to talk about peace. This is the scenario: in secularized society often signs of religion are banned in working places, religious symbols hidden. In other countries restriction of religion is very high. The Pew Research Center reports that more than 2.2 billion people – nearly a third of the world’s population – live in the 23 countries with increasing government restrictions or social hostilities involving religion."
And as I recently wrote in ZENIT, policymakers from the White House, the U.S. State Department, the European Parliament and the United Nations have taken notice of the Pew Research Center’s ongoing study of religious restrictions because it provides a quantitative framework they can use to monitor changes in religious restrictions over time, across the world, in specific geographical regions and in individual countries.
Tune in or come join me at the TEDx conference on April 19 to get the Pew Research Center's latest information on religious restrictions and hostilities affecting the world today.
* Rabbi David Rosen, Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, Planetary Scientist Guy Consolmagno, Friar Edward Daleng, and sociologist Brian Grim.
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(Dr. Brian J. Grim is Senior Researcher and Director of Cross-National Data at the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life. Report Link: http://www.pewforum.org/Government/Rising-Tide-of-Restrictions-on-Religion.aspx)