Religious Liberty Dinner Award Will Recognize an ‘Innovative and Effective’ Global Advocate

Leading religious freedom advocate Chris Seiple has been named co-recipient of the 17th Annual Religious Liberty Dinner International Award.

Dr. Seiple’s contributions to the promotion of religious freedom over the past 20 years have been truly remarkable, says Melissa Reid, executive director of the North American Religious Liberty Association, one of the event’s sponsoring organizations.

“There are few people who have been able to work so effectively to build consensus across so many divides—whether of culture, religious tradition, or political affiliation,” she said. “Dr. Seiple’s work through the years with many different organizations, governments and communities around the world, has been marked by integrity, passion, and a consistently innovative, forward-looking approach to challenges and issues.”

As the long-time president and now president emeritus of the Institute for Global Engagement, Dr. Seiple led efforts to bring about policy change within many sensitive and complex situations, guiding initiatives in countries including Vietnam, Uzbekistan, China, Laos, Myanmar, and throughout the Middle East and North Africa. He pioneered an inclusive approach to building religious freedom within a country, bringing together diverse groups of stakeholders—including governments, grassroots organizations, NGOs and other members of the community. This approach was also reflected in an informal coalition co-founded by Dr. Seiple in 2010—the International Religious Freedom Roundtable—which draws together a diverse range of religious freedom advocacy groups in Washington, D.C. to work together toward shared goals.

Through the years, Dr. Seiple’s efforts have led to many groundbreaking initiatives, to include playing an instrumental role in: the removal of Vietnam and Uzbekistan from the State Department’s religious freedom violations list; ongoing religion and rule of law programs in Myanmar and China; a series of training events in 56 of Vietnam’s 63 provinces for more than 1600 faith leaders and 2500 government leaders at the national and local levels; and, the development of the Cradle Fund, which worked through partners in the Middle East to rescue, restore and return Christians and other religious and ethnic minorities to areas where they can live their faith freely and without fear.

The Religious Liberty Dinner International Award will be presented to Dr. Seiple on May 20, 2019, at the 17th annual Religious Liberty Dinner, which will be held this year at the Newseum in downtown Washington, D.C. The event brings together diplomats, United States’ government officials, religious leaders, and religious liberty advocates. Past keynote speakers include Senator John McCain, Senator Hillary Clinton, Senator Orrin Hatch, and Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird.

Dr. Seiple says his life-long commitment to promoting religious freedom for all people is grounded both in his personal faith and values, and in his understanding that liberty of conscience is “the cornerstone of civilization.”

“True liberty of conscience includes the individual and collective obligation to respect and protect the other’s liberty of conscience, as it is the right thing to do, per our respective beliefs, and it is in our own self-interest—for we are all minorities somewhere.”

Dr. Seiple previously served as a Senior Advisor to the Secretary of State on Religion and Foreign Policy, and has continued to informally advise the State Department on its Ministerials to Advance Religious Freedom. He is currently the Principal Advisor to the Templeton Religion Trust’s Covenantal Pluralism Initiative, which he helped develop and implement. He is Senior Fellow at both the Foreign Policy Research Institute and the University of Washington’s International Policy Institute and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Click here more details of Dr. Seiple’s past and current contributions in the field of religious freedom.

The annual Religious Liberty Dinner is co-sponsored by the North American Religious Liberty Association, the International Religious Liberty Association, the Seventh-day Adventist world church and Liberty magazine.


For more information please contact: Bettina Krause, krauseb(at)gc.adventist.org