In an award dinner held 7 October 2010 in Washington, D.C., Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut became the first recipient of the International Religious Liberty Award, given by the DC Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the J. Reuben Clark Law Society and its affiliated student chapters in connection with the International Center for Law and Religion Studies. The award was given in recognition of Senator Lieberman’s outstanding contributions to the promotion and preservation of religious freedom. Among his many other efforts in this regard, Senator Lieberman was a cosponsor of the United States’ 1998 International Religious Freedom Act, which created three cooperative entities for monitoring and responding to religious persecution worldwide: a bipartisan United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, a U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, and a Special Advisor on International Religious Freedom within the UN Security Council.
In graciously accepting the award, Senator Lieberman reminded hearers that “religious liberty is a fundamental human right, in some sense, in the American context, it is the premise and the predecessor to all the other rights that our laws give us. … Threats to religious freedom anywhere in the world are common threats to humanity everywhere.” Noting that “religious freedom today remains under threat in too many parts of the world” and indeed that “as many as half of the world’s people live in regimes that either limit or suppress religious freedoms,” the senator praised the Brigham Young University affiliated organizations who presented the award: “The School, the Society … the Center is really providing substantive, important, and often courageous leadership in one of the most important battles that we are waging in the world today, and that is the battle to protect and advance religious liberty.”