A ‘Strong and Outspoken’ Advocate for Faith Communities Will be Honored at the 17th Annual Religious Liberty Dinner

Dr. Stanley Carlson-Thies, a strong and outspoken champion for the rights and freedoms of faith-based organizations, is the 2019 recipient of the Religious Liberty Dinner National Award. Dr. Carlson-Thies, founder and senior director of the Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance (IRFA), has worked for almost two decades to help shape the public discourse in America around the contributions of faith communities to the well-being of society.

“Vision, dedication and an ability to draw together disparate groups to focus on common goals are some of the hallmarks of Dr. Carlson-Thies’ approach to religious freedom advocacy,” said Melissa Reid, executive director of the North American Religious Liberty Association. “We are delighted to honor his commitment and to recognize his ongoing work protecting the ability of religious communities to make positive contributions to society in so many different ways.”

In 2001, Dr. Carlson-Thies was tapped to serve on the staff of President George W. Bush’s White House faith-based office. In 2009 he served on the church-state taskforce of President Obama’s faith-based Advisory Council, and he has continued to advise federal departments and states on how to construct productive and respectful relationships with faith-based and secular community organizations.

For the past 17 years, Dr. Carlson-Thies has hosted monthly gatherings of the Coalition to Preserve Religious Freedom. This coalition, founded by Dr. Carlson-Thies, is a nonpartisan and multi-faith group of religious freedom advocates and leaders of faith-based organizations that works to monitor and educate Congress and the executive branch.

According to Dr. Carlson-Thies, his work has been fueled, in part, by a conviction that a healthy, vibrant society requires a free and legally protected space for faith communities to thrive.

"Having lived in Canada, Japan, and the Netherlands, as well as in the United States, I’ve seen some of the diverse ways that religions are active in different societies and the diverse ways that governments relate to the religions confessed by their citizens and embodied in organizations,” he said. “The United States, while imperfect, has shown that people with different guiding beliefs can live well together when government leaves broad freedom to civil society so that distinctive organizations can flourish. That is what gives me hope in an increasingly pluralistic society."

The Religious Liberty Dinner National Award will be presented to Dr. Carlson-Thies on May 20, 2019, at the 17th annual Religious Liberty Dinner, which will be held this year at the Newseum in downtown Washington, D.C. The event brings together diplomats, United States’ government officials, religious leaders, and religious liberty advocates. Past keynote speakers include Senator John McCain, Senator Hillary Clinton, Senator John Kerry, and Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird. This year’s speaker is the Honorable Sheila Jackson Lee, U.S. Congresswoman for the 18th District of Texas.

Dr. Carlson-Thies is the co-author of Free to Serve: Preserving the Religious Freedom of Faith-Based Organizations (2015), The Freedom of Faith-Based Organizations to Staff on a Religious Basis (2004), and A Revolution of Compassion: Faith-Based Groups as Full Partners in Fighting America’s Social Problems (2003). IRFA is a division of the Center for Public Justice, an independent, nonpartisan organization devoted to policy research and civic education.

The annual Religious Liberty Dinner is co-sponsored by the North American Religious Liberty Association, the International Religious Liberty Association, the Seventh-day Adventist world church and Liberty magazine.

For more information please contact: Bettina Krause, krauseb(at)gc.adventist.org