Task Forces

The Simon Center on Religion and the Constitution has one active task force: the Task Force on Conscience Protection.

The Task Force on Conscience Protection focuses on threats to the exercise of religious conscience in American domestic politics, both for individuals and for religious institutions such as schools, hospitals, and charitable associations. At its June 2011 consultation, the Task Force investigated the constitutional doctrine of “expressive association,” the use of ministerial exemptions, and ways to understand conscience as part of the common good rather than a field of adversarial politics. Since August 2011, the Task Force has been intensely focused on the threats to the rights of religious conscience stemming from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’s mandate that all employers pay for their employees’ use of abortifacients, contraception, and sterilization, with no exemption for religious conscientious objectors except for a very narrow range of organizations. The Task Force plans to publish soon the edited papers of its June 2011 consultation.


Helen Alvaré (Chair), George Mason University
Robert P. George, Princeton University
Douglas L. Carver
Yuval Levin, Ethics and Public Policy Center
V. Bradley Lewis, Catholic University of America
Michael Moreland, Villanova University
O. Carter Snead, University of Notre Dame

Completed Task Force

The Task Force on International Religious Freedom, now completed, was concerned with the promotion of religious liberty around the world, and with placing this concern at the center of United States foreign policy. Holding that religious freedom is a natural human right, a pre-political liberty that no government granted and none can abrogate, the Task Force sought to identify the key principles of religious freedom, and the obstacles to its full realization around the world. The Task Force convoked a consultation in May 2011 of scholars, advocates, and former public officials to discuss the nature of religious freedom, its contribution to justice, liberty, and political stability, and the threat to it in various political regimes. The discussions of the meeting were turned into a monograph that was published in 2012: Religious Freedom: Why Now? Defending an Embattled Human Right.

Former Members of the Task Force:

Thomas F. Farr (Chair), Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs, Georgetown University
Jennifer Bryson, Islam and Civil Society Project, The Witherspoon Institute
William Inboden, Legatum Institute
Jennifer Marshall, Heritage Foundation
Margarita Mooney, University of North Carolina
Joseph Wood, German Marshall Fund