Religious Freedom

New IAMS study group: “Religious freedom and persecution” (12/2012)

Christof Sauer, Convenor of the Study Group

Christof Sauer, Convenor of the Study Group

Nine IAMS members agreed to form an ongoing IAMS Study Group on the topic of “Religious freedom and persecution” during a lunchtime meeting on  Saturday 18 August 2012 at the  IAMS Conference in Toronto.

The rationale for the study group is that much of religious persecution occurs in various different relationships to Christian mission, evangelism, witness, conversion, etc. In addition a rather large proportion of studies pertaining to religious persecution are undertaken within the discipline of missiology.

The participants elected Prof. Dr. Christof Sauer (Director of the International Institute for Religious Freedom, Cape Town Bureau, South Africa) as the convenor and doctoral candidate Wolfgang Haede (Turkey) as co-convenor.

The participants agreed to the following steps:

  • The convenors establish an electronic forum for email exchange and document repository and will register the names of the initial participants.
  • The participants ask the IAMS-Executive to give their blessing to this new group and to advertise it through IAMS channels.
  • The participants will receive a document that will enable them to invite other interested parties.

Four more members joined the group after the initial meeting. IAMS members and any other interested parties are welcome to register.


“Freedom of Belief & Christian Mission” is published (08/2015)

New Volume in Edinburgh SeriesED-Reflecting-front_thm

Hans Aage Gravaas, Christof Sauer, Tormod Engelsviken, Maqsood Kamil and Knud Jørgensen (eds), Freedom of Belief and Christian Mission, Regnum Edinburgh Centenary Series 26. Oxford 2015 (Regnum Books), 494 p.

Online orders are possible under

Volume 26 of the Regnum Edinburgh Centenary Series titled “Freedom of Belief & Christian Mission” is available. Five member of the IAMS Study Group “Religious Freedom and Persecution” contributed to the publication.

The “Edinburgh 2010” Conference marked the centenary of the legendary World Missionary Conference, Edinburg 1910. An important part of the Edinburgh 2010 study process is the “Regnum Edinburgh Centenary Series” published under the label of “Regnum Books International” by the “Oxford Centre for Mission Studies” which aspires to unite researchers from a diverse denominational background to reflect on Christian mission. Some of the volumes of the series present the official outcome of the Edinburgh Conference while others contain the results of various study groups.

Volume 26 “Freedom of Belief and Christian Mission” covers a large variety of aspects of worldwide pressure on Christians. On almost 500 pages first a theoretical framework is given. Some chapters deal with historical and theological aspects. Case studies are among others from Egypt, Turkey, Ethiopia, China, Burma, Indonesia and Brazil. A few “Missiological Responses” complete the volume.

Our IAMS Study Group “Religious Freedom and Persecution” has strongly contributed to the new book: Prof. Christof Sauer, convenor of the Study Group has edited the book together with Hans Aage Gravaas, Tormod Engelsviken, Maqsood Kamil and Knud Jørgensen. Prof. Sauer contributed the chapters “A Doxological Framework for Interpreting Discrimination, Persecution and Martyrdom” (together with Dwi Maria Handayani) and “Christian Solidarity in the Face of Discrimination and Persecution”. Wolfgang Häde, co-convenor of the group, wrote about “Christians in Turkey as Part of a Western Conspiracy? A Turkish Perspective on Christian Missionaries”. Valentin Kozhuharow is the author of “Freedom of Religion and Christian Mission in Russia before and after the Era of the Soviet Union”. Hanna Josua’s contribution is titled “The Middle East: A Future Region without Christians?” One of the missiological responses is written by Prof Jan A.B. Jongeneel: “Do Christian Witness and Mission Provoke Persecution?”


Book project: Freedom of Belief and Christian Mission (04/2014)

The Regnum Edinburgh 2010 Series is planning a volume on “Freedom of Belief and Christian Mission”. The IAMS Study Group on Religious Freedom and Persecution is involved. The convenor, Prof. Dr. Christof Sauer has been co-opted as one of the editors. Several members of the study group are assisting with advice on the outline of the volume and are volunteering as authors.

Twenty other volumes have so far been published in this project that could become the major series on mission in our century (

Christian mission takes place in a world where there are increasing interreligious tensions, including violence and persecution. Politics, economics, religion, ethnicity and other factors play a role in these tensions. Christians too are involved in such conflicts, sometimes as those who are persecuted and sometimes as those participating in violence.

The purpose of a volume on Freedom of Belief and Christian Mission is to bring to public attention a broad overview on the history, development and perspectives on the role of mission and freedom of belief and to reflect on these issues within a context of authentic witness in mission. There is, as far as we know, no other conceptual treatment of this issue from such a broad ecumenical perspective.

The editors are Hans Aage Gravaas, Stefanus Alliance International, Tormod Engelsviken, MF Norwegian School of Theology, Christof Sauer, IIRF – International Institute for Religious Freedom, South Africa, and Knud Jørgensen, Regnum Edinburgh Centenary Series/MF Norwegian School of Theology.

Interested IAMS members may inquire for details with:


International Consultation on Religious Freedom Research (03/2013)

The new Study Group „Religious Freedom and Persecution“ had its first regular meeting in the framework of the International Consultation on Religious Freedom Research, Istanbul, Turkey, 16-18 March 2013. The consultation was organized by the “International Institute of Religious Freedom” (Bonn, Cape Town, and Colombo) and the Research Group for Human Geography at the University of Tubingen, Germany.

This Consultation was the first of its kind and brought together activists and academics in theology, laws, geography who presented research about Religious Freedom. Istanbul as the city on two continents and often seen as a bridge between East and West was a great location for a consultation on a worldwide issue. Participants came from all continents. Thirty-three papers were presented in plenary sessions or in one of the two working groups.

Todd Johnson from the Institute of Culture, Religion & World Affairs at the Boston University spoke about the effects of “global trends of religious demography on religious freedom”. Rod Boyd-MacMillan and Frans Veerman, researchers for Open Doors International, presented „First experiences with the new World Watch List methodology.“ Christof Sauer from IIRF, the convenor of our study group gave „A critical analysis of the new questionnaire for the World Watch List.“

International Consultation in Istanbul

International Consultation in Istanbul

In the Working Group 2 with a special focus on theological and missiological implications of religious freedom among others Wolfgang Haede, co-convenor of the IAMS Group presented his research about „Perceptions of Christians in Turkey“ as evaluated in Turkish newspapers. Doctoral candidate Daniel Roethlisberger spoke about his exegetical-theological study on „Contents and limits of assistance and self-help for persecuted Christians“. Nigerian scholar Yusuf Turaki offered his insights into „The Systematic Persecution, Marginalization, Discrimination of Christians of Northern Origin in the Northern States of Nigeria“.

Many participants expressed their appreciation of the interdisciplinary exchange of results on research about religious freedom and pleaded for a continuation of this kind of format.

See a detailed report on the Consultation under this link:

Contact for study group: Prof. Dr. Christof Sauer, PO Box 1336, Sun Valley 7985 (Cape Town), Rep South Africa, Tel +27 21 783 0823, Email:  //  Wolfgang Häde (co-convenor):