The Becket Fund named Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik the 2018 recipient of the Canterbury Medal, its highest honor for religious liberty. Becket, an Atlas Network partner, is a non-profit, public interest legal and educational institution that defends the free expression of all religious traditions. Over 550 people celebrated Rabbi Soloveichik and religious liberty at the Pierre Hotel in New York City.
“The Gala in many ways is a manifestation of Becket’s mission to defend religious liberty for all,” said Becket Fund director of development Hyewon Kraemer. “We do so because religious liberty is fundamental to human dignity. Religious liberty is the ability to be able search for the Truth and, whether that search leads you to an organized religion or no religion at all, living one’s life according to one’s sincere beliefs is a basic human right that no government can take away.”
Over 550 attended the Canterbury Medal Gala.
“A champion of individual liberty, interfaith collaboration, and a prolific scholar on the American Founding and religious liberty, Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik comes from a long line of renowned Orthodox rabbis known as leaders of the American Jewish tradition,” continued Kraemer. “Rabbi Soloveichik is well deserving of this honor for his staunch public defense of religious liberty for all, his deep commitment in interfaith community building, and for his unwavering advocacy for the Jewish community.”
Rabbi Soloveichik obtained his Rabbinic ordination from the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary of Yeshiva University and holds a Ph.D. in Religion from Princeton University. He has written for a variety of publications including Commentary, First Things, and The Wall Street Journal. He has been featured in the New York Times, testified before Congress, and has given numerous lectures at many public forums. The Rabbi has advocated on behalf of religious liberty with Christian, LDS, and Muslim leaders.
“In America, people of faith inspire each other, sustain each other, so that an alliance over central issues such as religious freedom can also form without in any way diminishing our real religious differences,” said Rabbi Soloveichik during his remarks at the gala.
The Canterbury Medal recognizes individuals who have demonstrated steadfast courage in the defense of religious liberty. The award is named after Canterbury Cathedral, where the knights of King Henry II killed Saint Thomas Becket for defending religious freedom.
Princeton University McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence Robert P. George shakes hands with Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik.
“In an increasingly secular society, religious liberty is under attack from those who would like to see religion eradicated from the public square altogether,” continued Kraemer. “By winning precedent-setting cases, we hope to create an equilibrium state where the vast majority of the courts and the general public accept religious activity as a natural part of public discourse. Becket understands that religious groups provide a critical buffer against the power of government and religious autonomy has often served as a shield against oppressive civil laws.”
Watch Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik’s full remarks here.
Becket primarily focuses on First Amendment litigation in U.S courts. However, the organization also has international activities. Becket has filed legal briefs, provided legal counsel, and trained parties in international cases. Becket board members have served on the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom.
“Enemies of religious liberty seek to cut at the candle that is the human spirit, to carve it according to their will, to amputate souls from citizens as a price for entering society so that nothing but a desiccated stub of humanity remains,” Soloveichik continued. “They choose to forget that Almighty God has made man free and that the soul of man is the candle of God.”