Freedom of Religion in Europe Today

From the words of welcome at the start of the ISFORB conference on “Freedom of Religion in Europe Today: Under Critical Investigation”:

Freedom of religion: if that freedom is there in full, it is least experienced. At least: you don’t realize it’s there: freedom of religion. With the bad consequence that its importance is not always realized. In places where this freedom of religion does not exist or is under pressure, its importance is felt all the more. There, it becomes clear what is missing when this freedom of religion is not fully present.

Freedom of religion is not only an interesting or important topic to talk about, as it is at this conference. Freedom of religion is also a human experience that I would wish for everyone: it makes real life and real coexistence possible. Freedom of religion is not only the subject of academic research. It is also a condition for living out personal and communal spirituality.

As Evangelische Theologische Faculteit, Leuven, we are grateful every day that we are allowed to be a theological academy in that freedom. One of ETF Leuven’s characteristics is combining academic excellence in the broad field of theology and religious studies with a strong focus on spirituality. The fact that we at ETF Leuven can give ample attention to academic work ánd spirituality, which for us is linked to the protestant-evangelical faith tradition, has everything to do with freedom of religion, the main theme of this conference.

That is why I am glad that ETF Leuven offers space to the research institute ISFORB: the Institute for the Study of Freedom of Religion or Belief. I am extremely proud of our professor Jelle Creemers who is the director of this research institute. And I am grateful having this fantastic conference on Freedom of Religion in Europe Today at ETF Leuven these two days, which would not have happened without the expertise and efforts of Dr. Creemers.

Prof. Dr. Jos de Kock, Rector ETF Leuven.

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