What Kind of Religion Is Free in the Public Square? A Warning From the States - Dr. Ryan Messmore

In the wake of the religious riots in Sydney recently, this year’s CIS Acton Lecture on religion and freedom is timely. Western society values and protects religious liberty. Religion still plays a pivotal role in the private sphere but appears to be less prominent and less readily accepted in the public realm. Is it possible that today’s public square will only tolerate weaker, more marginal forms of religion? Is public religion relevant? If so, what might the implications be for government and social institutions?

Bridging his experience in theology and public policy, Dr. Ryan Messmore will offer a pertinent warning about threats to a free and just society that are eroding the once-held authority of religious institutions and edging them out of the public square.

In particular, he will examine the relationship in western societies between the privatisation of religion and the narrowing of religious freedom. Rather than a watered-down freedom of worship, Dr. Messmore will argue for a robust notion of religious liberty; one that protects the authority and activity of citizens as well as churches, universities and other social institutions. He will show that threats to liberty that Lord Acton warned of a century ago are playing out in public policies today and that this should prompt a more robust protection of religious institutions in the future.

Dr. Ryan Messmore is president-elect of Campion College, Australia’s only tertiary liberal arts college. For the past six years he served at The Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. as a research fellow in religion and civil society.

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