by Erin Rodewald // May 23
PBS launched a summer series this week called The Great American Read — a celebration of reading and a challenge to book lovers to weigh in on their choice for America’s best-loved novel. In the spirit of the PBS project, which showcases great fiction, I offer my own challenge: a summer reading list that highlights the important nonfiction topic of international religious freedom (IRF).
Religious freedom conditions are deteriorating around the world. One need only scan the global headlines to recognize the grave consequences born of a disregard for religious freedom. We read of genocide, ethnic cleansing, rape, imprisonment, enslavement, forced displacement, forced conversions, intimidation, harassment, destruction of property, and marginalization of women and children. Indeed, nearly 80% of the world’s population lives in countries with high or very high levels of restrictions or hostilities associated with religious freedom.
The IRF Summer Reading List features a short selection of books that wrestle with the sobering themes of human dignity, religious persecution, and freedom of conscience. I encourage readers to include one or more of these titles alongside that great American novel this summer.