Annual Human Rights Lecture


Religious freedom is a foundational human right without which subsequent human rights cannot be upheld. This widely recognized fact is maintained, not only in the luminous tradition of the Catholic Church, but in the contemporary human rights discourse, including secular documents like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the U.S. Constitution. Saint John Paul II called it the “first freedom.” Others describe religious freedom as an “architectural” right, on which others are built.

Thus, the work of promoting and protecting religious freedom, as well as refining our understanding of it, is a critical task for our generation.

Ambassador Sam Brownback has dedicated his life to promoting religious liberty. As former U.S. Ambassador for international religious freedom, Brownback developed networks to combat human rights abuses on a global scale.

In the Fourth Annual Human Rights Lecture, Ambassador Brownback will discuss the challenges and opportunities for religious freedom with the IHE’s William Saunders, Director of the Program on Human Rights.

The event will take place at Heritage Hall on Catholic University’s campus. A livestream will also be available.

Sam Brownback served as Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom from February 2018 to January 2021. He served as Governor of Kansas from 2011 to 2018. Prior to that he represented his home state in the United States Senate and the House of Representatives. While a member of the Senate, he worked actively on the issue of religious freedom in multiple countries and was a key sponsor of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998. Ambassador Brownback currently serves as co-chair for the International Religious Freedom Summit. He and his wife Mary have five children and six grandchildren.