Webinar Episode 2: Freedom of Religion or Belief, COVID-19, and Human Dignity

In this episode, panelists share thoughts and address questions about the concept of human dignity in the pandemic.

Webinar Summary

Ewelina Ochab, who moderates this panel, begins by framing the coronavirus as a disease that disproportionately burdens some groups (such as religious minorities) more than others. Ján Figel’ then addresses the opportunity the crisis provides to strengthen the concept of human dignity. He believes that as we begin to recognize our interdependence and shared vulnerability in this pandemic, there can be greater cooperation and convergence on both religious and secular issues. Next, Brett Scharffs speaks to how human dignity should provide a lens by which we understand the discriminatory and disproportionate effects of COVID-19. He points to the Punta Del Este Declaration on Human Dignity for Everyone Everywhere as one way we can reduce politicization and elevate our discourse surrounding the coronavirus. The final panelist, Marco Ventura, concludes with remarks on the need for knowledge and action to accompany dignity. He provides examples of how we can mobilize the concept of dignity through mechanisms such as interfaith dialogue to hasten our recovery from the pandemic. Following these remarks, panelists answer questions relating to religious freedom policy proposals, treatment towards prisoners of conscience, balancing the freedom of religion with the right to health, and how faith communities can effectively address misinformation resulting from the coronavirus.


  • Dr. Ján Figel’, Former Special Envoy for the Promotion of Freedom of Religion or Belief Outside the EU (2016-2019)
  • Prof. Brett Scharffs, International Center for Law and Religion Studies, BYU Law School
  • Prof. Marco Ventura, Bruno Kessler Foundation/University of Siena


  • Ewelina Ochab, Human Rights Activist and Co-Founder of the Coalition for Genocide Response