CCAS Institute launches religious freedom monitoring project – The GW Hatchet

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The Loeb Institute for Religious Freedom at the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences recently launched a project map the disparities in religious freedom around the world in collaboration with two non-governmental organizations.

The leaders of the Loeb Institute have joined forces with 21Wilberforce and Watch over the genocide create and publish the Religious Freedom Data Spectrum which uses qualitative data to locate places of religious oppression and identify warning signs of genocide. Project collaborators said the initiative aims to provide NGOs and policymakers with easy access to data on religious freedom and persecution for advocacy and documentation purposes.

The Loeb Institute showcased the project at a launch event Wednesday with 21Wilberforce and Genocide Watch, where they said the project expands access to a diverse set of religious freedom data and research documentation on religious persecution would help broaden existing perspectives on religion. freedoms in the world.

Samuel Goldman, executive director of the Loeb Institute and associate professor of political science, said institute members helped 21Wilberforce compile data from various research organizations on government restrictions, social hostilities and other obstacles to religious freedom. Goldman said the Loeb Institute worked with 21Wilberforce to create a publicly accessible interactive map with these categorized religious freedom measures for each country.

“We hope this is a resource that will be useful, not only to students and researchers, but also to journalists, activists and political staff trying to better understand the state of religious freedom. in the world today, ”he said. noted.

Goldman said the Loeb Institute provides tax resources, such as grants and internship assistance, to students who wish to research religious freedom. He said the mapping project will help expand the name of the academic institute and its contribution within the GW community.

“Our hope is that the Data Specter becomes a go-to resource for people working on the issue, and when they do, they will also learn more about the Loeb Institute and our role at GW,” said Goldman.

Trenton Martin, the advocacy and training coordinator for 21Wilberforce and the project leader, said his organization had joined Genocide Watch and the Loeb Institute to create an interactive map with 14 layers of data that show each country’s ranking in terms of religious freedom. He said 21Wilberforce started the project to consolidate a wide range of data on religious freedom and used student research assistants who helped collect data and build the website.

“It also helps to ensure that we do not remain blind to the wide range of perspectives and issues that exist in many countries we engage in,” Martin said in an interview. “The state of religious freedom is often a very complex story in every national context and this project helps us understand those stories. “

Martin said the collaboration between the three organizations will add new NGO annual reports and other international perspectives to keep improving the project. He added that the data was missing some religious perspectives, notably Hindu and Sikh, which are necessary to fully represent religious freedoms around the world, and he hopes to add more indicators of religious oppression to the map.

“There are a few holes in the data though,” Martin said at the event. “We would love to see further research done from a potentially Hindu or Sikh perspective. There is a lot of potential to get more voice on these issues. “

Gregory Stanton, President of Watch over the genocide, said staff from his organization provided 21Wilberforce with the technical expertise to map the data compiled on religious persecution around the world. He said that Genocide Watch became involved because their previous research on religious freedom revealed that religious persecution is a strong predictor of genocide.

“Genocide Watch has always realized that religious persecution is one of the best predictors of genocide,” he said. “And so, this project that documents religious persecution around the world is helping Genocide Watch predict and prevent genocide. “

Stanton said Genocide Watch shares these warning signs with workers at the US State Department, open source journalists, the National Security Council and other policy makers. The specter of religious freedom enhances the documentation of religious persecution around the world, he said.

“You can see it coming in other words, and by being able to see the genocide coming, that means you can do things to prevent it that are a long way from military action, and that’s what we’re trying to do it, ”Stanton said.

Shari Gordnier, early warning analyst for Genocide Watch, told the event that the Religious Freedom Data Spectrum will present the research in an easily accessible and condensed format. She said the data sums up experiences around the world down to single numbers that will help researchers and lawmakers identify and defend those who experience religious injustices.

“Data is important for research on religious freedom and religious persecution because, combined with the stories of survivors, it becomes a powerful advocacy tool in the face of atrocities,” she said.


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