“Under Caesar’s Sword” is a three-year, collaborative global research project that investigates how Christian communities respond when their religious freedom is severely violated. Research will be centered around three core questions:
- How do Christian communities respond to repression?
- Why do they choose the responses that they do?
- What are the results of these responses?
The Templeton Religion Trust awarded a grant of $1.1 million to the University of Notre Dame and the Religious Freedom Project at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs at Georgetown University to carry out the research.
“Under Caesar’s Sword” is an effort to discover and draw attention to the ways in which Christian communities around the world respond to the severe violation of their religious freedom. These strategies vary widely, ranging from nonviolent protest movements of the kind that Pope John Paul II led in communist Poland, to the complex diplomacy of Christian churches in China, to simply fleeing from persecution en masse, as Christians have in Iraq. Further, the project aims to raise solidarity with persecuted Christians worldwide and to help them respond justly and effectively in ways that build up religious freedom for all.
The team of 14 scholars, representing the world’s leading scholars of Christianity in their respective regions, will travel around the world to study some 100 beleaguered Christian communities in over 30 countries including China, Indonesia, Nigeria, Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Pakistan, and India.
One of the project’s signature features is its extensive efforts to disseminate its findings. This is part and parcel of its efforts to raise awareness of and be in solidarity with persecuted Christians. The scholars’ cumulative findings about Christian responses to repression are publicized through a wide range of media:
- A major international conference in Rome held in December 2015 on the fiftieth anniversary of the Second Vatican Council’s declaration on religious freedom, Dignitatis Humanae
- An edited volume of essays in which the scholars present their findings in their full academic rigor
- A report that presents the findings in an easily accessible and visually attractive way and will be translated into four languages and distributed around the world
- A public symposium in Washington, DC, on April 20, 2017 (including launch of the report)
- A web page that distributes the findings through an interactive format
- A short documentary film
- Educational resources for schools, churches, and other organizations