Conference to Address Threats to Religious Freedom | Franciscan University of Steubenville
  • Conference to Address Threats to Religious Freedom

    Leading Catholic Scholars to Gather at Franciscan University of Steubenville, April 2014

    January 03, 2014

    STEUBENVILLE, OH—Franciscan University of Steubenville will host a conference, “Truth, Conscience, and Religious Freedom,” which addresses current threats to religious freedom in the United States. The April 4-5, 2014 conference will serve as the inaugural event to launch the University’s Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life.

    “Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI recognized that the threat to religious freedom is larger than any single issue—and has its roots in secularism and cultural relativism,” said Dr. Anne Hendershott, Franciscan University sociology professor and director of Franciscan’s Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life.

    These destructive forces take many forms, said the conference planners, including the HHS mandate’s insistence on contraceptive, sterilization, and abortifacient coverage in health insurance plans; health-care institutions requiring medical personnel to participate in morally objectionable procedures; legal liability for businesses refusing on religious grounds to provide services for same-sex “marriages”; students forbidden to engage in religious expression in public schools; and zoning laws used to stop Bible studies in private homes.

    “Truth, Conscience, and Religious Freedom” will explore these issues and examine the state of religious freedom in the United States through the lens of the country’s Founding, history, and constitutional principles. It will also examine the rights prevalent in our culture, international religious freedom, and Dignitatis Humanae, the Catholic Church’s leading document on religious liberty.

    “Benedict XVI asked for the laity to have the courage to counter the relativism that would ‘delegitimize the Church’s participation in the public square,’” Hendershott said. “Our upcoming conference will bring together the kinds of courageous people Pope Benedict spoke of who can confront that.”

    The conference schedule includes: Dr. Robert P. George, Princeton University, “The Nature and Basis of Religious Freedom;” Professor Randy Lee, Widener University Law School (Harrisburg), “Thomas More, Dorothy Day, and Janis Joplin, and the Search for Religious Pluralism in America;” Professor Gerard V. Bradley, Notre Dame Law School, “The Culture of Religious Liberty;” Dr. Kevin Schmiesing, Acton Institute, “Marching in Opposite Directions: Religion and Liberty in the American Past and Present;” William Saunders, Esq., human rights lawyer, Washington, D.C., “The Human Right to Religious Liberty: How Does the U.S. Measure Up?”

    The conference is co-sponsored by the Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life at Franciscan University of Steubenville and the Society of Catholic Social Scientists. Registration cost is $35. Meals are $40. For more information, visit To register and pay by phone, contact Carrie Libetti at 740-284-5262, or

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