Dr. Thomas Farr
Thomas Farr is President of the Religious Freedom Institute, a non-profit organization that works to advance religious freedom worldwide.
A leading authority on international religious freedom, Farr is a senior fellow at the Institute for Studies of Religion at Baylor University. He serves as a consultant to the U.S. Catholic Bishops Committee on International Justice and Peace; on the boards of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, Christian Solidarity Worldwide-USA, and Saint John Paul the Great Catholic High School; and on the boards of advisors of the Alexander Hamilton Society, and the National Museum of American Religion. Farr teaches regularly at the U.S. Foreign Service Institute.
A Ph.D. in history from the University of North Carolina, Dr. Farr served for 28 years in the U.S. Army and the U.S. Foreign Service. In 1999 he became the first director of the State Department’s Office of International Religious Freedom. He subsequently directed the Witherspoon Institute’s International Religious Freedom (IRF) Task Force, was a member of the Chicago World Affairs Council’s Task Force on Religion and U.S. Foreign Policy, taught at the National Defense University, and served on the Secretary of State’s IRF working group.
From 2008 – 2018 Dr. Farr was Associate Professor of the Practice of Religion and World Affairs at Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service. He also directed the Religious Freedom Project at Georgetown’s Berkley Center.
Dr. Farr’s major works include World of Faith and Freedom: Why International Religious Liberty is Vital to American National Security (Oxford University Press, 2008); Religious Freedom and Gay Rights: Emerging Conflicts in North America and Europe, co-edited with Timothy Shah and Jack Friedman (Cambridge University Press, 2016); and U.S. Foreign Policy and International Religious Freedom: Recommendations for the Trump Administration, with Dennis Hoover (Religious Freedom Institute, 2017).
Farr has published numerous essays, including a groundbreaking 2008 article in Foreign Affairs, “Diplomacy in an Age of Faith.” His most recent article will be published later this year: “The ‘Ministerial Exception’: An Inquiry into the Status of Religious Freedom in the United States and Abroad,” in Religious Freedom and the Law: Emerging Contexts in Freedom for and from Religion, edited by Asher Maoz, Brett Scharffs, & Ashley Isaacson Woolley (Routledge, 2018).
A Roman Catholic, Tom Farr is married to Margaret McPherson Farr. They have three daughters and 10 grandchildren. He received a B.A. from Mercer University, and a Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina.