Our Mission

Purpose and Aim

We aim of working towards:

  • The establishment of reliable facts on the restriction of religious freedom worldwide.
  • The making available of results of such research to other researchers, politicians, advocates, as well as the media.
  • The introduction of the subject of religious freedom into academic research and curricula.
  • The backing up of advocacy for victims of violations of religious freedom in the religious, legal and political world.
  • Cover religious freedom concerns wherever they occur in the world.
  • Serve discriminated and persecuted believers wherever they are located.
  • To make publications and other research available as economically and as readily available as possible to be affordable in the Global South.

Tools

The IIRF encourages all activities that contribute to the understanding of religious freedom. These include:

  • Dissemination of existing literature, information about archives, compilation of bibliographies etc.
  • Production and dissemination of new papers, journals and books, eg the International Journal for Religious Freedom, IIRF reports, and several book series.
  • Gathering and analysis of statistics and evidence.
  • Supplying of ideas and materials to universities and institutions of theological education to encourage the inclusion of religious freedom issues into curricula.
  • Networking to find, support and involve researchers in the work of IIRF, including the creation of research groups.
  • Guiding postgraduate students in research projects either personally or in cooperation with the universities and educational institutions.
  • Representation at key events where opportunity is given to strengthen connections with the wider religious liberty community and with politicians, diplomats and media having an interest in human rights.
  • Evaluating and assisting in the litigation of religious freedom cases which have potential for resolution under Article 9 of the European Convention of Human Rights and similar articles in other international treaties guaranteeing the freedom to freely express religious convictions, change one’s religious beliefs, and promote religious positions in hostile environments.

Approach

  • The IIRF aims to work collaboratively with all who share its aims of supporting the defense of religious freedom through providing the necessary foundations of accurate information and understanding.
  • The IIRF’s academic approach is inter-disciplinary, appreciating the contributions that different disciplines add to the understanding of and response to religious freedom issues. It will seek to maintain a balance, in particular, between theological, legal, sociological and political studies.
  • The IIRF differentiates between advocating the rights of members of other religions (religious freedom) and evaluating the truth of their beliefs (religious truth). Advocating the freedom of others can be done without accepting the truth of what they believe. In the political world, religious freedom does not mean that religions should converge in what they believe, but that religions should promote peace and freedom for those who do have different beliefs. E. g., Catholics and Protestants learned to live together in peace, not because of ecumenical progress in dogma, but because they no longer accepted the use of the States or violence to apply pressure against each other.
  • The IIRF is guided by the principles (1) of the Old and New Testament which reveal the freedom and dignity that God has bestowed on humankind at creation and (2) the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which enshrines the universality of human rights, including such core values as non-discrimination, equality, fairness. We recognise the need to affirm and proclaim the divinely appointed universal principles of justice, freedom and equality for all in a world threatened by religious division.
  • As an institute of the World Evangelical Alliance, IIRF, through its Executive Director, is responsible to the WEA, represented by its Secretary General. The IIRF exists to encourage understanding and efforts on behalf of religious freedom for all people and members of all religions. The reason for Christians being a major target of the IIRF is due to the fact, that they make up a large percentage of people who are persecuted for their faith, and that the WEA as part of the church of Jesus Christ has been given a special pastoral task to help its member constituencies. We are convinced that raising the level of religious freedom for Christians in any country will help all other people as well. But we clearly advocate religious freedom for all and regularly document persecution e.g. of Muslims, Alevites, Buddhists, Bahai, and atheists.

Invitation to contribute

  • Write an article for the peer reviewed International Journal for Religious Freedom.
  • Contribute a piece for the IIRF Reports, available for papers in any language falling between IJRF and Religious Freedom Series.
  • Contribute a manuscript to the Religious Freedom Series.
  • Open a branch of IIRF in your country or become a partner with your existing organisation.

The “International Institute for Religious Freedom” (IIRF) is a network of professors, researchers, academics, specialists and university institutions from all continents which work on reliable data on the violation of religious freedom worldwide and want to implement this topic to college and university programmes and curricula, especially in the areas of law, sociology, religious studies and theological programmes.

Organization

Except for publications, the Institute will operate by employing already existing possibilities such as offices, i. e. without a building of our own. Meetings are to be kept at a minimum, depending on the internet possibilities of instructors at institutions of higher education.

Board of Supervisors

The board of supervisors consists of four people delegated by four evangelical bodies:

  • Chairman: Godfrey Yogarajah (Sri Lanka)
  • Chairman emeritus: Dr. Paul Murdoch (on behalf of the German Evangelical Alliance)
  • Esme Bowers (South Africa)
  • Julia Doxat-Purser (on behalf of the European Evangelical Alliance)
  • John Langlois (on behalf of the World Evangelical Alliance)

The Cape Town branch has its own African board.

Leadership

  • Director: Prof. Dr. Thomas Schirrmacher, Bonn
  • Co-Director: Prof. Dr. Christof Sauer, Cape Town
  • Director Colombo Office: Roshini Wickremesinhe, LLB (Sri Lanka)
  • Research Coordinator: Jospeh Yakubu (Nigeria)
  • Research Writer: Fernando Perez (India)
  • Representative to UN, OSCE, EU: Arie de Pater (Netherlands)
  • Legal Advisor: Martin Schweigert, Singapore
  • Publicity/Internet: Ron Kubsch, Altenkirchen

IIRF Letterhead

The Letterhead of International Institute for Religious Freedom: