COVID-19: Present and Future Implications for Religious Groups, Individuals, and Society

This post is a transcript of remarks delivered at the BYU Religious Freedom Annual Review on 10 June 2020 by Michael O. Leavitt, Founder, Leavitt Partners,  Former Governor of Utah, and Former Secretary of Health and Human Services.  

A number of years ago, I was invited by a global corporation to participate in a daylong meeting. The subject was the future. It was attended by leading economists and futurists and a  handful of corporate leaders. Candidly, I felt a little awkward even being there. The meeting was held on the top floor of a building overlooking New York Harbor. The Statue of Liberty was in the distance. The moderator started the meeting by describing a hypothetical scenario. Pretend, he said, that theyear is 2015. This was 20 in 1999. He said, think as though you’re looking back over the last 15 years. What would the most surprising thing be that happened during that period of time? One of the participants began to respond with some smart thoughts about the future. A banker spoke of the paperless currency systems that would begin to emerge. An oil executive talked about tensions in the Middle East. A technologist began to talk about faraway reaches of digitalization. (more…)

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Why Religious Freedom Matters to Me

This post from Dr. Alaa Murabit is a transcript of her presentation delivered 17 June 2020, which opened the 2020 BYU Religious Freedom Annual Review. Dr. Murabit, a medical doctor from Canada, is UN High-Level Commissioner on Health Employment and Economic Growth

I am so honored to be speaking with you all today. And I wish I could have been there in person. Obviously, circumstances mean that we’re going to have this conversation virtually, but that doesn’t mean it has to be any less impactful. Now, for those of you who don’t know me very well, I’m Alaa Murabit, I’m a UN High Level Commissioner. I’m an SDG advocate. I’m a very new mom, which means I’m getting a lot less sleep than I would like. But, above and beyond everything else, I am a person of faith. I fundamentally view the world with a lens that accounts for mercy and love and compassion, and I view power in that lens as well. And so, when I was asked to come and speak about what religious freedom means, to me, I thought it was incredibly important for me to preface this with some context from my own life and my own upbringing, but also what I think we could potentially be doing better to ensure that religious freedom is, you know, is held for everyone. It’s not just for the select around the world. (more…)

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Religious Freedom in the Age of Coronavirus: Legal and Non-Legal Strategies for Finding Community and Hope

This post by Brett G. Scharffs , Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies is taken from remarks at the 2020  Religious Freedom Annual Review, Religion and Religious Freedom in the COVID-19 Era: Finding Community and Hope, an Online Discussion held  June 17, 18, and 19, 2020.

The current coronavirus pandemic as presents a kind of stress test upon us and upon the institutions to which we belong. As we strive to behave responsibly, avoiding crowds, wearing masks, physical distancing, this is surely a time that is testing the strength and resilience of the bridges that connect us one with another, a time that is trying our hearts.

We may find ourselves as if balanced on a razor’s edge, with despair lying on one side and rage on the other. We are already seeing evidence of mental and economic tolls this crisis is exacting, alongside the more obvious public health toll.  We are all affected by the horrific price the coronavirus has exacted. The toll upon those who have suffered the illness, and upon their families, is unfathomable: more than 7 million people worldwide have contracted it, many suffering terribly.  More than 400,000 have died. (more…)

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