Religious Freedom and Persecution

25 February 2016

Religious Freedom and Persecution

‘Religious Freedom and Persecution’ is one of three inspiring courses offered in ETF’s Summer Colloquium, scheduled August 22 – 27, 2016.  This international study week includes lectures, various workshops and times for meeting and reflection.

Registration is open until 1 June 2016.

Christians and churches in the West have been shocked recently with the threat of violence nearby and in distant places.

Large parts of the global church however have had to deal with such threats and tensions for ages. Three quarters of humanity live in contexts of restricted religious freedom. Some are harassed by aggressive secularism, others are marginalized and discriminated by religious majorities.

This course will tap into the most recent global research on the issue. We will look particularly at harassment and persecution of Christians, while embedding it in the wider picture of freedom of religion in general. We will study in depth what it means to have the right to have a religion, to change your religion, to practice it alone or in community, to propagate it or to criticize it. Different perspectives will enrich our view of religious freedom and persecution.

But understanding this issue is not enough. When Christians encounter hostilities against their faith, the challenge is how to respond appropriately. This requires theological interpretation: How can churches express solidarity with their fellow Christians? How can pastors preach on persecution? What can we learn from the persecuted church for our own contexts and how do we speak sensitively about the matter, using appropriate terminology?

Christof SauerProf. Dr. Christof Sauer is Professor of Religious Studies and Missiology at ETF Leuven with a focus on researching religious freedom and persecution, and Co-Director of the International Institute for Religious Freedom (Bonn – Cape Town – Colombo).



Ron van der Spoel_webDs. Ron van de Spoel is founding Director of Jethro Foundation, equipping pastors in situations of restricted religious freedom or persecution and is pursuing a PhD on this topic at VU Amsterdam. He formerly was Vice-President Church and Theology of Open Doors Netherlands.


ETF’s Summer Colloquium in August 2016 features three inspiring courses which intersect theology, church and society. The two other courses are:

This international study week includes lectures, various workshops and times for meeting and reflection. Our Summer Colloquium is compulsory for ETF Open University students open to interested people with academic qualifications and can serve as additional in-service training for pastors, teachers, and other ministry professionals.

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