Thomas Farr

Thomas F. Farr is director of the Religious Freedom Research Project at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs and Associate Professor of the Practice of Religion and World Affairs at Georgetown’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service.

Photo of Thomas Farr

He is president of the Religious Freedom Institute, an NGO committed to achieving worldwide acceptance of religious liberty. Farr is a senior fellow at the Institute for Studies of Religion at Baylor University, and at the Witherspoon Institute in Princeton, N.J.

Dr. Farr had a distinguished 28-year career of serrvice in the U.S. Army and the Foreign Service, including professorships at West Point and the Air Force Academy, serving on the U.S. delegation to U.S.-Soviet arms control talks in Geneva, and heading an interagency task force on verification provisions for the START II Treaty. He served as the first director of the State Department's Office of International Religious Freedom from 1999-2003. In that capacity he traveled widely to promote religious liberty, engaging religious communities, government officials, and the victims of religious persecution.

Since leaving State, Dr. Farr has directed the Witherspoon Institute's International Religious Freedom (IRF) Task Force, served on the Chicago World Affairs Council’s Task Force on Religion and the Making of U.S. Foreign Policy, and was a member of the Secretary of State’s IRF working group. Today Farr teaches regularly at the Foreign Service Institute and is a consultant to the U.S. Catholic Bishops Conference. He serves on the board of directors for the Institute on Religion and Democracy, and Christian Solidarity Worldwide-USA; and the board of advisers of the Alexander Hamilton Society, the National Museum of American Religion, and John Paul the Great High School in Virginia.

Dr. Farr has testified on many occasions before the U.S. Congress, and the Canadian Parliament as well. He has spoken at a wide variety of government agencies, think tanks, and universities. He is a contributing editor for the Review of Faith and International Affairs, and Providence: A Journal of Christianity and Foreign Policy. His major titles include World of Faith and Freedom: Why International Religious Liberty is Vital to American National Security (Oxford University Press, 2008); Religious Freedom and Gay Rights: Emerging Conflicts in North America and Europe, co-edited with Timothy Shah and Jack Friedman (Cambridge University Press, 2016); and U.S. Foreign Policy and International Religious Freedom: Recommendations for the Trump Administration, with Dennis Hoover (Religious Freedom Institute, 2017).

Under Farr's leadership the Religion Freedom Project and its successor the Religious Freedom Research Project (which began in 2017) have sponsored major conferences in the United States and abroad. They have funded teams of scholars to examine the meaning, reach, and value of religious freedom to individuals and societies, and conducted studies and issued publications on many subjects, including religion as intrinsic to human experience; religion and violent extremism; the sources of religious freedom in the five major world religions; religious freedom and national security;, the cognitive science of religion; theism and rationality; Jewish, Christian and Muslim perspectives on natural law; religion and healthcare reform; proselytism, Muslim minorities; Christian contributions to freedom; Transatlantic cooperation on religious freedom; and the history of religious freedom. They have partnered with a variety of institutions on conferences and publications, including the Institute for Studies of Religion at Baylor University, the U.S. Department of State, the American Bar Association, the British Council, Sussex University, Catholic University, and the International Center for Law and Religion.

They have conducted dialogues and consultations with major policymakers and thought leaders, including Robert George, Alan Dershowitz, Abdullah Saeed, Rabbi David Novak, Sheikh Hamza Yusuf, Imam Mohammed Magid, Pastor Rick Warren, Dr. Russell Moore, Cardinals Patrick Dolan and Donald Wuerl, Archbishops Charles Chaput and William Lori; journalists Kirsten Powers, E.J. Dionne, Ross Douthat, and Mike Gerson; U.S. Ambassador for International Religious Freedom David Saperstein, U.S. Representatives Dan Lipinski, Jeff Fortenberry, Chris Smith, Diane Black, retired Congressman Frank Wolf, Majority Leader Senator Mitch McConnell, Senators Marco Rubio, Ben Sasse, Tom Cotton, and Cory Gardner; British officials Lord David Alton, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, Baroness Elizabeth Berridge; Canadian Ambassador for Religious Freedom Andrew Bennett; UN Special Rapporteur for Religious Freedom Heiner Beilefeldt, EU Special Envoy for Religious Freedom Jan Figel, Vatican Envoy to the UN in Geneva Silvio Maria Tomasi, and many others. In 2013, Farr established a strategic partnership between the Religious Freedom Project and Baylor University’s Institute for Studies of Religion.

Farr is the recipient of several prestigious honors while serving in the armed forces, including the U.S. Army Overseas Service Medal and Army Commendation Medal. In addition, he has received the Jan Karski Wellspring of Freedom Award, presented by the Institute on Religion and Public Policy for contributions to international religious freedom, a lifetime achievement recognition from the group In Defense of Christians, and the international award presented at the 15th annual Religious Liberty Dinner in Washington DC, sponsored by the 7th Day Adventists.