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Testifying for Christ and for Liberty in Istanbul

March 25th, 2013


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Patrick Henry College
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Dr. John Warwick Montgomery

 

Dr. John Warwick Montgomery, PHC’s Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and Christian Thought, served as the keynote speaker in the opening plenary session of The International Consultation for Religious Freedom Research, March 15-17, in Istanbul, Turkey.

The landmark conference was held in response to the increasing persecution an unprecedented number of Christians are suffering around the world today, both directly through martyrdom and the destruction of churches, and indirectly through secular attempts to marginalize the Christian message. Dr. Montgomery confirmed that the site of conference, Istanbul, Turkey, while an officially secular state, has a large Muslim population that consistently makes life very difficult for preachers of the gospel.   

Sponsored by the International Institute for Religious Freedom of the World Evangelical Alliance, the International Consultation for Religious Freedom Research brought together the world's ranking specialists in this area—some 40 scholars from countries as diverse as Canada, the Union of South Africa, Nigeria, New Zealand, and Sri Lanka.   

Dr. Montgomery’s opening address offered "Ten Commandments for Responsible Religious Freedom Research" and went on to analyze the thorny issue of the justification of religious liberty—and its limitations—in contemporary domestic and international law.  He is the honorary chairman of the Academic Board of the World Evangelical Alliance's International Institute for Religious Freedom, and he is the only advocate to have won four religious liberties cases before the European Court of Human Rights.

Montgomery also insisted on a transcendent, revelational, biblical foundation both for the human right of religious freedom and for the necessary limitations on that right—limitations such as refusal to allow Mormon polygamy and refusal to tolerate prohibitions on medical care (Christian Science) and blood transfusions (Jehovah's Witnesses).  His paper, now in press, will appear in Legitimizing Human Rights, ed. Angus Menuge (London, England: Ashgate).

Also on the program was Prof. Dr Stephen K. Baskerville, professor of government at Patrick Henry College, who presented to one of the group sessions a paper on "Emerging Social and Sexual Issues with Implications for Religious Freedom." 

Of special interest at the conference was a detailed analysis of the World Watch List methodology—the most sophisticated statistical reporting of persecution against Christians worldwide.  Valuable discussion also took place, pro and con, on the endemic non-ratification of human rights treaties by certain countries, for example, the refusal of the United States to ratify the treaty creating the International Criminal Court, where persistent violators of human rights have been and are receiving prison sentences. 

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PHC’s Distinguished Research Professor of Philosophy and Christian Thought, Dr. Montgomery holds eleven earned degrees and is regarded as one of contemporary Christianity’s leading apologetics experts. He has authored more than fifty books in four languages on the issues of human rights and biblical apologetics.