View Father Chad Hatfield’s speech (39:06) and Q&A responses (1:14:37) on C-span: click on the Video Playlist “Conference on Religious Freedom: Session 3 Uniting to Preserve Robust Freedom,” in the right-hand column, here.
Archpriest Chad Hatfield, seminary Chancellor and CEO, participated in the 2012 National Religious Freedom Conference, sponsored by the Ethics and Public Policy Center (EPPC), which is based in Washington, D.C. Father Chad served as the Orthodox Christian representative in a session dedicated to the topic “Uniting to Preserve Robust Freedom.”
The EPPC was established in 1976 to clarify and reinforce the bond between the Judeo-Christian moral tradition and the public debate over domestic and foreign policy issues. At this particular conference, government officials, religious leaders, and public policy experts from across the nation discussed a host of topics, including the new Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate requiring religious organizations to provide health care coverage for contraceptives.
During the session on preserving religious freedoms, Fr. Chad both delivered a presentation and also participated in a Q&A moderated by Professor Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence, Princeton University. In his presentation, Fr. Chad noted the dramatic lessons from history that Orthodox Christians worldwide could contribute to debates and think tanks regarding the interplay between religion and civil rule; he particularly pointed out the lessons learned by Russian Orthodox Christians under the communist yoke and by Middle Eastern Orthodox Christians under Islamic rule.
Father Chad further noted that Orthodox Christians in the West are bringing “a new kind of zeal” to public policy debates in the U.S., especially those newly converted to the Orthodox Christian faith who are bringing “a familiarity with the way that Americans do business.” Fr. Chad also drew a parallel between the strong civic witness Orthodox Christians have presented through examples of holiness and sanctity in the recent and ancient past, and new types of witness Orthodox Christians are presenting in the public square.
He observed, “We Orthodox are not only finding our interior way, but we are finding our external voice.” As an example, he cited the statement issued by the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America regarding the “infringement of liberty” caused by the recent HHS mandate; in their statement, the bishops urged Orthodox Christians to voice their concerns to their elected officials “in the face of this threat to the religious liberty.”
Other panelists speaking to the issue of preserving robust religious freedom included:
- Elder L. Whitney Clayton, Presidency of the Seventy, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
- The Most Reverend Salvatore J. Cordileone, Bishop of Oakland
- Dr. Timothy George, Dean and Professor of Divinity, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University
- Rabbi Dr. Meir Y. Soloveichik, Director, Zahava and Moshael Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought, Yeshiva University