The Value and Limits of Religious Liberty: A Discussion Between Thomas Farr and Ryan Anderson

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM INSTITUTE — Thomas Farr, President of the Religious Freedom Institute, wrote in an article last year, “Human beings are innately religious. Our nature impels us to seek answers to profound questions about ultimate things. If we are not free to pursue those answers, and to live according to the truths we discover, we cannot live a fully human life.” Accordingly, religious freedom is a fundamental human right.

While Ryan Anderson affirms this view of religious freedom, he recently emphasized the limits of that freedom in an article entitled, “Proxy Wars over Religious Liberty.” In it he argues that when responding to government coercion intended to eliminate dissent in the area of human sexuality, “religious liberty can’t be the only response to such coercive efforts.” Anderson concludes, “Protecting religious liberty for all, however praiseworthy in itself, is not a prudent or effective way on its own to fight a proxy war over human sexuality.”

In this discussion, Farr will explore with Anderson the case he is making in order to clarify the proper role of religious freedom in addressing some of the most contentious moral, political, and legal questions in America today.

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