Religious Freedom and Intellectual Freedom: First Amendment Freedoms and Challenges


Freedom of religion has often prompted passionate debate in American society, and libraries and publishers often serve as the lightning rods. Recent controversies over the Danish Muhammad cartoons and the U.N. anti-blasphemy resolution, “Combating Defamations of Religions,” are having significant repercussions in the U.S.

How do we balance intellectual freedom principles with cultural and religious differences? Join ALA’s Intellectual Freedom Committee for a provocative program co-sponsored by the Association of American Publishers, “Blasphemy!  When Religious Values Clash with Intellectual Freedom Values.”

This program will consider issues of intellectual and religious freedom from multiple perspectives and will invite audience participation and discussion. We are honored to have Paul Sturges and Irshad Manji as our distinguished speakers.

Paul Sturges served as Chair of the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA)’s Freedom of Access to Information and Freedom of Expression (FAIFE) core activity from 2003-2009. His research focuses on exploring and discussing the rationale for intellectual freedom, tolerance and freedom of expression; the role of transparency in combating corruption; and comedy as freedom of expression.  He is also the recent recipient of an OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

The New York Times describes Irshad Manji as “Osama bin Laden’s worst nightmare.” Oprah’s magazine has given her the first annual Chutzpah Award for “audacity, nerve, boldness and conviction.”  Ms. Manji is Director of the Moral Courage Project at New York University, which aims to develop leaders who will challenge political correctness, intellectual conformity and self-censorship.

She is the internationally best-selling author of “The Trouble with Islam Today: A Muslim’s Call for Reform in Her Faith.” In those countries that have censored “The Trouble with Islam Today,” Ms. Manji is reaching readers by posting free translations on her website. She is also creator of the Emmy-nominated PBS documentary, “Faith Without Fear,” which chronicles her journey to reconcile Islam with human rights and freedom.

Please join us for this thought-provoking discussion on Monday, June 28 from 1:30 — 3:30 pm in the Washington Convention Center, Room 206. Ms. Manji will be signing books promptly after the program.