The Religious Freedom Institute (RFI) seeks JTF support for the Religion, Institutions, and the Global Common Good Research Project (RIGCGRP), an interdisciplinary project to explore institutional religious freedom. The “big questions” of the project are: What is institutional religious freedom? How is institutional religious freedom faring globally? Why is institutional religious freedom worthy of concern?
The core of the project will be an interdisciplinary working group. One sub-group will tackle the first question, clarifying the nature and scope of institutional religious freedom using legal, theoretical, and historical tools. A second sub-group will operationalize our definition of institutional religious freedom into usable indicators for measuring institutional religious freedom. Based on these indicators, it will create an index and apply it to 9 select countries, yielding a baseline probe of the cross-national condition of institutional religious freedom. A third sub-group will produce a corresponding mapping of the terrain of religious institutions and their freedom to operate in the same 9 countries. It will also probe the causal impact, if any, of institutional religious freedom on key social, economic, and political variables: a stable social order, a dynamic economy, a free and democratic political order, a robust civil society, and clean and transparent governance. Each sub-group will produce white papers, policy reports, and media products for policy-makers, civil society leaders, and the general public.
The proposed project is important and timely. Despite the potential of religious institutions to promote the common good, many governments are restricting their freedom. This project will therefore employ a variety of tools to probe the cross-national condition of institutional religious freedom as well as test the hypothesis that it is meaningful, measurable, and connected to key dimensions of a society’s well-being.