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Dedication to Human Rights &
Freedom of Religion or Belief

Cometan is now 23 and is currently conducting groundbreaking research on the structural issues that government systems for recognising religion and belief pose to the maintenance of high FoRB standards. Cometan's chief contributions to the field include RoRB, recognitionism, facilitationism and a series of new terminology.
Click here to view Cometan's 
Doctoral Research Proposal in full.

Brandon Reece Taylorian (a.k.a. Cometan) is a leading scholar and advisor on issues regarding freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) around the world and has been involved in the human rights field since he was nineteen years old. His interest in FoRB emerged after he founded his own philosophy and religious movement called Astronism at 15 years old. 

If you involved in Freedom of Religion or Belief advocacy and wish to contact Cometan directly, please email him at the following address:

The Doctoral Research Proposal of Cometan that introduces the Cometanic theory that religious recognition is central to freedom of religion impediments was accepted by the University of Central Lancashire's School of Humanities, Language, and Global Studies on Monday 2nd November and one week later,  on Monday 9th November, the Astronist Institution published this work of Cometan for public viewing.



In their 2020 International Religious Freedom Report, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) detailed the recognition processes for religious organisations by country. Although the dynamics of religious restriction were acknowledged, the data alone did not explicate the possible link between the abuse of recognition systems and issues such as religious freedom violations, forced migration, discrimination, and terrorism. This project is primarily concerned with how the legal apparatus of religious recognition could be abused by governments and why this may be fundamental to the conditions of religious liberty. Religious recognition denotes the mechanism for the legal registration of religious institutions in a country; government recognition normally permits institutions to conduct commercial operations and religious services legally.

Abuse of such a system may include a deliberate bureaucracy bias against some groups to make legal registration difficult to obtain. This can entail requests for members’ personal details to store in databases for surveillance purposes, or the weaponisation of terms like cult, foreign religion, and extremism against religious groups that the state does not approve of e.g. Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia. Studies of religious restriction divide the topic into government restriction and social hostility; government restriction is the focus for this research as the potential misuse of recognition systems by governments and political parties will be explored. Secondly, this study seeks to determine whether the commercial operations of religious institutions contradict religious principles and how governments may use recognition systems to restrict religious commerce e.g. the selling of religious texts or the collection of donations. Thirdly, determining whether economic freedom is relevant to religious freedom conditions will be important to this project’s study of the intersection between business, religious recognition, and freedom of religion.

Either an expert in the field of human rights or a representative of a religious or philosophical group.

Anonymous individuals who belong to or lead minority or new religions in their respective countries.

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Salah Ali

General Coordinator of the Iraq Religious Freedom Roundtable


Main insights:

institutionalisation of recognition, steps in the recognition process, and the promotion of FoRB through local mediators in communities wary of this right.

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Professor Heiner Bielefeldt

UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief (2010–2016)


Main insights:

RoRB certainly constitutes a separate branch of human rights alongside FoRB, the academic systematisation of recognition issues, recognition issues should be approached through the clarification of human rights as non-negotiable and universal, a focus on uniform terminology especially in national constitutions, the distinction between recognition (an existential act) and registration (a legal act) is paramount, a broad approach to country-specific issues is recommended and a recognitocentric approach to human rights would be valuable to the field.

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Professor Russell Sandberg

Lawyer and Specialist on Law and Religion in England and Wales at Cardiff University

Main insights:

recognition and registration systems oftentimes stop at religion to the exclusion of belief, philosophical or otherwise; enactment of law on recognition causes reliance on principles that quickly become out of date and "inherently conservative" and "inherently Judeo-Christian" when considering problems of the near and far future; recognition and registration systems are a "necessary evil"; religions can see wins in some areas of the law in which they may receive recognition but losses in other parts especially in what may be termed "ad hoc registration" systems; the 'religionisation' of non-religious movements (e.g. humanists) so that they fit into religiously-inclined legal frameworks; starting from scratch with a blank sheet of paper would mean firstly, what does the state need to know; less can be more when it comes to RoRB standards; England and Wales marriage law says the place of worship need to be registered and the act of marriage needs to take place inside that building in order for the marriage to be considered legal; facilitation of religion or belief could include a retreat from the state's overbearing role instead opting for religious organisations to work in healthcare and education once more; exclusion is inherent to defining laws on religious recognition and registration; there is the RoRB scale – the fact that all countries sit at different, often unique stages along the path to the highest, most inclusive, most progressive conditions for RoRB; pragmatism when it comes to RoRB; the spectre of establishment of religion; deserving and undeserving claimants for registered and recognised status; issues of recognition pertaining to political beliefs; a very wide definition policy and a very rigorous regulation policy; not to filter out at the definition stage due to such decisions inherently going to be arbitrary; issues involving recognition and registration come down to issues of definition; objective criteria for subjective rights; FoRB can be simplified down to what extent can one reasonably act upon, manifest and express their opinion and assemble based on opinion and why and at what stage should the state be concerned about this; issues of recognition and registration come down to overbearing state involvement; comparative recognition takes place spatially and temporally as criteria for what is justifiable policy such as "how did the country cope before religious activity was regulated in this regard?"; constitutional provisions on religion often do not reflect the legal framework when dealing with matters of religion so a distinction should be made.

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Dr. Susan Kerr

Senior Advisor on FoRB at the OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights


Main insights:

States have a responsibility in terms of their FoRB commitments to remain even-handed in how they approach the recognition of faith or belief communities. The securitisation of religious activity – including the use of a "national security" narrative on extremism and terrorism - to limit religious activity and, thus, FoRB, is problematic. From an OSCE perspective, the narrative that human rights compliance, including the adherence to commitments on FoRB, is an internal issue for a country and therefore should not be critiqued by other countries or international organizations is inadmissible. Each participating State has agreed in the commitments that the security of one member is of concern to the security of all participating States. Margin of appreciation should be considered in formulating standards for religious recognition and registration. Such standards would be a novel contribution to the field. The greater the level of FoRB, the greater the potential for meaningful interfaith dialogue – they enjoy a symbiotic relationship. The state has a duty to facilitate e.g. the practice of religion or belief without discrimination; this duty is enshrined in international human rights law. Political sensitivities could prevent international organizations from opting to provide country-specific recommendations. (As an aside, I would not reduce political sensitivities to questions of funding or open dialogue- there can be many other reasons too, e.g. timing – elections OR position within a country – maybe better to let another org. issue the recommendations as they have a better standing OR...). Normative pressure is an important tool used by the OSCE to guide countries in terms of their FoRB commitments. There are some umbrella organizations and coalitions composed of religious or belief community actors that advocate for FoRB. Whilst many use human rights as a framework, of course, principles such as human dignity may also be found within their faith or belief traditions. All human rights will always be somewhat aspirational, as the world is dynamic and changing, and, therefore, total freedom of religion or belief will arguably never be fully attained. This does not mean that we should stop striving for it! Registration should never be a requirement for any community to exist. However, if communities decide to register, I think that what information they should offer is somewhat dependent upon the purpose of this registration procedure. For example, if it is about providing the rights of a basic legal entity that can e.g. open a bank account, purchase land or enter into other such types of contracts, then certain information could be expected- at the very least a contact person with contact details, perhaps accompanied by a copy of some form of ID. This said, where countries request significant amounts of information, this is not the State facilitating, but rather obstructing the practice of FoRB in community with others, and as you have pointed out, it can be very dangerous depending upon the context.


Dr. Stanley Carlson-Thies

Founder and Senior Director of the Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance


Main insights:

issues pertaining to recognition and registration primarily come down to issues of definition and that these issues effect both authoritarian and democratic states, namely determining what is or is not 'religious' or providing definitions of religion that effectively exclude non-traditional forms of the manifestation of belief; state facilitation of religion or belief can be enacted through the government's funding of social projects that are purpose-built to encourage interfaith activities as found from the Cardus studies on religious freedom; recognition for new religious movements can be sought from scholarship, promotion of its discussion in the public sphere and rousing a court case to incite the government to recognise the religion in some way; positive rights (the right to do something) need to be applied through an institutional framework; in the United States, a policy of default non-registration for religious organisations remains in place; the important role of bottom-up freedom; the application of a fluid definition of religion in American law; definition of the boundary between different issues such as defining abortion or euthanasia as standard medical practices means opposition to these practices on religious grounds becomes a more difficult case to achieve success in; many of the social issues from lack of recognition for religious belief arise from not having enough plurality or freedom in allowing belief-based institutions to establish their own organisations to deal with matters such as healthcare and education especially in countries in which the state plays the main role which only then perpetuates the state-individual dichotomy but actually it should be a trichotomy between state-institution-individual; if there is not enough freedom granted through recognition to manifest their beliefs then this is certainly a factor in causing greater degrees of extremist views and belief-based violence; what religious freedom principally protects and is especially concerned with changes over time and is subject to shifts in the social, cultural and political spheres; an example of how tax-exemption has been used in the United States as leverage to have religious organisations conform to public policy; its easier for governments not to recognise or register to avoid cumbersome administrative responsibilities; without recognition, it is difficult to "obtain" religious freedom; the facilitative Dutch education system that allows for the development of bottom-up freedom; the American culture is based on default non-registration.

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Andrew Copson

Chief Executive of

Humanists UK


Main insights:

promoted the ideal of there being no need for recognition systems; religious recognition is instead the problem and such systems operate from a place of exclusion; OSCE and the international system could establish a convention dedicated to FoRB that could include a section on RoRB issues and standards; recognition and registration law is commonly used to the detriment of the non-religious including those without any belief identity and those who identify with a particular non-religious or atheistic philosophy; how recognition is skewed holds real-world personal impacts for humanists; viewed country-specific RoRB standards as the way forward.


Coptic Christian

living in Egypt


Main insights:

recognition reduces interfaith tensions, a lack of state recognition leads to complacency and injustices, violations of RoRB bring about an opposite effect by making the faithful more resolute, while recognition fosters a sense of safety and security.


Member of a New

Religious Movement

living in Germany


Main insights:

member of a small, unrecognised religion in Germany; government should have no say on which religions are valid and those that are not; validation should not depend on membership or longevity; free zones, even in countries with state religions, where the government does not favour one religion over another yet still respects the national religion; state validity is not a personal requirement but the reality remains that recognition remains a prerequisite to some degree of protection; in Germany, it is a requirement that moving into a new area means that their has to be declared but the choices Catholic, Protestant and Muslim are the only ones provided; lack of sufficient recognition causes a disconnection between members and the state; only in matters of extremism and terrorism should the government be involved in religious matters; recognition systems are inherently discriminatory.



living in China


Main insights:

religious activity should be regulated to ensure harmony and stability for the whole society; opposed to state religions however supported the continuation of a religious recognition system; a lack of recognition will leave the effected community feeling insecure and experience a lack of belonging in the society; although the ability for recognition to bring diversity and inclusiveness was affirmed, it was also conceded that balancing resources across different religions is the underlying problem; governments have the responsibility to prevent beliefs from being manipulated or used improperly.


Muslim who lived with a Christian missionary

living in Jordan


Main insights:

Maintaining a state religion is important to upholding the traditional and common values of the Jordanian people; the Christian missionary whom he lived with was not able to proselytise publicly, only in private homes when invited by the homeowner; sometimes it is social pressure and stigma that restricts religious activity even more than the government itself and therefore inhibits the ability for Jordanian society as a whole to extended recognition to different religions; social media is helping to open people's minds, especially of the younger generation, to respect different religious communities which can manifest as positive recognition; conversion from Islam remains socially unacceptable.


Armenian Orthodox


living in Israel


Main insights:

the government and society has a duty to facilitate religion and belief; the recognition of the belief identities of citizens is comparable to their recognition as citizens; teaching the history of religion in schools is essential to maintaining of peace for future generations; the restriction of religion has the opposite effect of entrenching one's faith; without some kind of recognition system in place, "sectarian movements" will ultimately undermine religious freedom; restrictions should be placed on what religious buildings are allowed to be named in order to maintain the integrity of other existent religions that already use such titles for their own places of worship.


Dr. Mine Yildirim

Founder of the Freedom of Belief Initiative and Specialist on FoRB conditions in Turkey

(Retentionism but on the basis of that the system isn't found to restrict or discriminate)

Main insights:

Turkey employs a policy of non-registration specifically for religious groups; however, there is a vertical recognition system in which some state-approved forms of the Islamic religion, namely Sunni Islam, are given state privilege, then Greek Orthodox, the Jewish community, the Armenian Apostolic Church and lesser recognition of the Syriac Orthodox community as the government's interpretation of the Treaty of Lausanne; they raised issues with the implementation of proposed RoRB standards such as placing doubt over whether an international organisation like the United Nations or the OSCE could implement or even devise such standards; a form of recognition called "implied recognition" is in effect in which a building may be granted "place of worship status" by the state as a way of recognising the religions or communities affiliated with those places of worship as a whole which in turn reduces the 'fullness of recognition'; recognition can be closely intertwined with the notion of legitimacy; registration procedures have the potential to be facilitate and to hinder religious freedom; recognition is oftentimes spoken about with a focus on collective rights and institutional rights, but upholding some aspects of individual rights (such as the right to conscientious objection) requires the state to extend some often abstract degree of recognition (technically called acknowledgement in RoRB terminology) for one's religion or belief; privileges are granted to Sunni Muslim groups in the area of "public religious services" by the Presidency of Religious Affairs (PRA) which in turn creates a direct line of communication between Sunni Islamic organisations and the government; however, Muslim groups that define themselves outside of traditional Islamic groups and therefore reside outside the PRA structure are in turn restricted in what they may legally do such as the ability to open a building and call it a mosque because the PRA administers all mosques in the country and this also effects leaders of those groups excluded from the PRA structure; hence the provision of structures based on recognition can inhibit communities that do not fit into the definitions made by those structures; there is definitely an inequality when it comes to the distribution of state funds for public religious affairs skewed in favour of Sunni Muslim groups and therefore a demonstration of their state privilege; when it comes to considering religious recognition, we need to orient our approach around existing structures of international human rights, particularly regarding the principles of whether the act in question interferes in the free exercise of religion or belief, its necessity in a democratic society, whether it is discriminatory and what aims are interpretable from its implementation and are these objectives sound or otherwise compatible with FoRB; most recognition systems are in need of reform and a progressive approach due to immigration and changing social attitudes meaning that these systems may not have been discriminatory when they were first created but are in contemporary times as well as the progressions made in international human rights jurisprudence that produce normative demands that in turn mean some systems need to be reformed to correspond with those norms; state recognition exists even if registration procedures are abolished as one of the necessary functions of the state albeit in more implicit forms; adoption of a case by case basis rather than a more systematic approach of tackling the dismantling of restrictive parts of registration and recognition systems; in Turkey, a "glaring inequality" exists regarding how the state distributes funds to religious groups as well as restrictions being imposed on some groups and not others (double discrimination); registration and reregistration is an obstacle to FoRB in the OSCE region; in Turkey, although there are no formal registration procedures specific to religious groups, legal personality status is still required but is not therefore intertwined with registration per se; registration procedures and monitorial requirements (e.g. annual meetings and decision books) are the same for religious and secular associations (except for Islamic religious groups) (an example of indistinction); monitorial requirements in Turkey differ depending on how a religious group has registered itself (whether as a foundation, an association or as an Islamic religious group); the state needs to be clear on what is involved in producing annual reports and what religious groups need to do to satisfy the state's requirements of them and depending on these factors, such aspects of monitorial requirements could be reasonably classified as impermissible; due to the variability of these restrictions, the broader criteria should be applied; there is a gap in international standards and lack of research around keeping registered status once a religious group has achieved this; the 'institutional' aspect of institutional religious freedom may serve to restrict its scope; the issue at the forefront of discourses should be the intersection of gender and FoRB as well as the issue of countries making hierarchies out of different rights and freedoms, essentially making a judgement over which rights hold more value than others especially as seen during the Covid pandemic in which public health superseded religious freedom in some states; although recognition may have the potential to facilitate FoRB, it may also equally inhibit FoRB by increasing state involvement in religious affairs; implementability and implementation are the most important aspects of protecting religious freedom today.


Ed Brown

Secretary General of Stefanus Alliance International

(Retentionism but on the basis of recognition being use to facilitate)

Main insights:

registration and recognition issues are widespread because they are capable of controlling the religious activities of citizens; state funding is often the main determiner of the state involving itself in religious affairs meaning the activities of individual religious organisations; different moral standards and worldviews of individuals within governments can sometimes cause issues because the way they are approaching the issue of religious freedom is not always reflective of human rights norms; registration and recognition issues are not necessarily formed by loopholes in the human rights system but instead perhaps the complexity and diversity of contemporary life and the views, religious, philosophical, secular or otherwise that are entangled in how religion and belief are recognised by those in government; more research needs to be conducted on the positive aspects of freedom and the negative aspects of control – the idea that giving more freedom to religious groups from state actually could allow for groups to control and regulate themselves, especially when it is understood that having more freedom is better for security when the "national security" narrative tool is used by states; we need to work on broader FoRB literacy; FoRB Learning Platform are working to improve levels of FoRB literacy through videos for example;  proportionality and non-discrimination are the key criteria in determining the permissibility of a state-imposed restriction or administrative measure on religious groups under FoRB guidelines; a prioritisation should be placed on Bielefeldt's principle of the "maximisation of rights" meaning to maximise the protection of all rights much as possible is essential in order to combat ongoing issues with the misuse of narrative tools such as "public order" or "national security" and in instances in which one right is considered to be superior to another as an ongoing issue; equal recognition is essential to the discussion of RoRB; there needs to be a clear understanding on what the purpose of recognition or registration is and do such objectives hold water against the criteria of being necessary in a democratic society; recognition systems are positive if they have the purpose to facilitate or enable religious activities but are negative if they have the intended purpose to control; equal recognition also entails an approach to religious recognition that is devoid of the provision of privileges to religious groups simply based on members of religious communities that hold significant influence in the government and are therefore able to wield this power to benefit the group of which they are part; an importance needs to be place on different religious groups coming together to discuss recognition and minority issues together as part of their interfaith dialogue; there should be a movement away from the "privilege mentality" towards the "human rights and equal treatment mentality" to help minority communities and divergent communities within the majority to stand together to request change from the government; to declare the heterodoxy of a certain belief or practice and thereby any fraction within the community believing or practicing such is a right of a religious organisation or leadership to make; state definition of religion, especially in regards to the state deciding who are and who are not part of a certain community, is impermissible; use mandatory registration and the purpose of registration as control as the main determinants of the restrictivity of a country's approach to religious recognition; the OSCE guidelines help in determining what is and is not determinable as 'control' when it comes to the nature of registration procedures; the human rights project has been a long term cinching in of these rights over time; support for a more general, thematic approach to the dispense of standards on RoRB; standards that are too specific and tight encourage governments to find loopholes; international norms, the situation in the country, and what can be recommended in terms of standards and conditions for countries to progress on matters of registration and recognition of religion or belief; the issue of enforcement is ongoing and how human rights can be implemented and how restrictions on religion are enforced by states; there is an ongoing issue of the creation of a 'hierarchy of rights'; intersectionality of religious freedom with other freedoms and topics is essential to consider in form RoRB standards; studies on state attitudes to proselytism as being precisely indicative of a state's approach to or view of religious freedom and its ability to act as a litmus test for FoRB are lacking; the issue of the misuse of the term "harmony" (there is a majority religion that minorities 'know' how to act and what to say in relation to that majority to maintain "harmony"); Bielefeldt expounds the principle that FoRB is a "non-harmonious peace project"; the state's misuse of "disharmony" as a narrative tool; locked recognition (e.g. Treaty of Lausanne); the issue of legitimate discrimination (e.g. an atheist applies to become a pastor in a church or a moral standing on female leadership); to resolve this problem, there should be sufficient provisions granted to such individuals who wish to diverge from the main group to create their own; is it essential that any RoRB standards put in place are infused with good-intentioned purpose and a dynamic approach and are endowed with predictability based on "fundamental norms" that are slow-changing.


Lutheran Christian

living in Taiwan


Main insights:

"No, I do not agree with the state religion. We can learn from history that politicians use religion to do evil. As a democracy supporter, I think religious freedom should be protected under institutions"; recognition is stated as being important to the individual but not necessarily in the country in which they reside; faith is used by the individual as a means of countering adversity; opposed to the idea that greater recognition would bring about positive change for his community; opposed to the idea of the government having any involvement in religious affairs, even for facilitative purposes; "some of our church members went abroad to carry the mission with their family in Thailand and Nepal, even in Western Africa. They are living a hard life with their willingness. However, our church always supports them for basic living and consultation"; what the interview with this individual demonstrates is that certainly in some countries registration is genuine and does contribute to members of minorities in feeling comfortable to practice their religion freely; this reveals that perhaps part of a comprehensive approach to RoRB standards would be to determine the genuineness of a government in granting the ability for groups to practice freely; finally, there is also the ever-present threat of Chinese influence on the island which could, if it rises to too great a power, lead to the exportation of worst practice by implementing a form of religious policy akin to that imposed on the Chinese Mainland in Taiwan.


Member and leader of a New Religious Movement

living in Hungary


Main insights:

religious and philosophical movements do not attract hostility until they are large enough; witnessed many people discriminated against for their traditional religious convictions due to the widespread nature of militant atheism which was the precursor to the "cancel culture" of today; restricting personal convictions and beliefs is never justified. Restricting actions that can bring harm to others can be justified; it is important that we promote and protect religious freedom; of course this is in conflict with having a state religion; but if people are free to move, they can move to a place where their religion is more welcome; this is hardly an optimal solution, but it is the best solution that I can see at the moment; "I just want to be left in peace" and no interest in receiving greater recognition from the state for their beliefs; "in the Western societies that I’m more familiar with we have laws against religious discrimination, so we should just apply the laws; but in the same Western society it so happens that militant atheists have too much cultural power, so the laws are not applied; even if governments recognise more religious sects, those sects would probably continue to hate each other anyway; actually, more visibility can contribute to more hatred; the right to think with one’s own head, choose the belief one’s happiest with, and practice this belief peacefully, is a basic and fundamental human right.


Professor Marco Ventura

European Consortium for Church and State Research and expert on religious freedom in Vietnam


Main insights:

because the use of registration as a tool is still fairly new relative to religious history, the claim that this is on the increase may not be so concrete; so much has changed in the last thirty years with a new global view, the tools used are different and the agendas are different; the objectivity of the notion that the misuse of registration is on the increase is questionable at the very least; registration is still very new; in the current times, recognition and registration is crucial; during the Soviet times, minorities were not concerned with registration or recognition but purely with survival; we have to consider the registration issue relatively, that although issues of registration and recognition may be widespread, the issues could be a lot worse when we look at just five or sixty years ago; a rising concern of registration but within the relatively short timespan of the last thirty years or so; we are subjectively more sensitive to registration issues because we are more sensitive to recognition itself; more information is now far more freely available which has allowed the world to see conditions, global circulation of information and global strategies to deal with issues raised; recognition is not neutral; recognition is about lobbying and pursing interests and how these interests are obtained; the objectivity of recognition and registration issues needs to be challenged; this research is crucial; recognition issues are fragile, subjective and volatile; in favour of as little state recognition as possible; American colleagues do not consider their system of registration through the tax agency as a form of recognition; recognition should be minimised; presumption that registration and recognition issues are indeed a human rights concern; the state classically has an appetite for control; religious actors are complicit in some repressive recognition systems; some religious leaders have accepted state policy to maintain their recognised status by compromising but continue to present themselves as victims of state repression; the issue of recognition is one in which religious groups are complicit in engaging with state agencies even when the state conducts itself in ways contrary to religious doctrine (e.g. the ROC's continued support of the Kremlin in the Ukraine war despite violence being contrary to contemporary Christian belief); the policy of the Catholic Church is that it exists in all countries regardless of its recognised or legally registered status; "dynamic differentiation is what I observe on the ground"; in Italy, there is a Catholic template for recognition; the idea that recognition of religion or belief (RoRB) is both a branch of freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) as well as an independent body of theory, terms and concerns that are separate from FoRB; categorisation and theoretical developments as well as monitoring are all important to focus for recognition issues; recognition and facilitation as well as recognition and dependency; why was separation of state and religion such an ideal; partnership, cooperation and engagement are other concepts of state-religion relations; the theory jumps from different theories of state-religion relations (from theocracy to separation and now to a variety of other issues such as recognition, facilitation, cooperation, accommodation etc.); recognition is a case of "it takes two to tango"; the entanglement of religion and dependency of the state is the central issue with the presentation of recognition as associated with religious freedom; categorical recognition; minimal and maximal recognition; recognition is "more at the core" of the issue than engagement because it also has the capacity to manifest in legal and social ways; the ideal of separation has failed; capturing "the spirit of the time" and what people desire could be the role of the recognitionist approach to state-religion relations; facilitation has to be for the purpose of sustaining a diverse society as facilitation, if implemented for other reasons, can cause homogeneity; equality as a principle therefore needs to be implemented into the facilitationist approach in order to ensure that facilitation does not itself become misused; facilitating a plurality is the principal challenge of the RoRB Project; facilitation does not need to create dependency but encourages autonomy, responsibility, diversity and dialogue; the implementation of facilitation is a very narrow road and so therefore would need to be carefully managed on an ongoing and progressive basis; the legal personality OSCE document is the most advanced document of its kind in present times that addresses recognition and registration issues; the creation of a traffic light system that is based on a spectrum to orient RoRB standards; an issue raised is the differing opinions from different regions of the world on what is acceptable and what is unacceptable policy when it comes to registration which essentially highlights the problem of cultural relativism; society itself or parts of society at least may not view religious freedom with the same positivity as it is attributed in the human rights framework; sustainable recognition is a system that can ensure that individuals and communities do not feel so alienated that they resort to violent extremism; "sustainable" is what is "compatible" to international human rights standards; more attention needs to be given to the role of the economy and other secular aspects of life as they relate to religious freedom, especially as a consequence of the distance between them and religious freedom caused by the separation of state and religion.


Professor Roger Finke

Co-Director of the Association of Religion Data Archives (ARDA)


Main insights:

mandatory registration may sometimes be justified by the narrative that all groups are required to register, not just religious groups which in turn reduces one's capacity to say that the government is targeting religious organisations; more attention needs to be directed towards understanding the scale of impacts that restrictions on institutional rights have on individual rights and how to resolve this issue; because registration restrictions typically impact minority religions, states are able to get away with imposing such restrictions because they impact groups that are not only smaller in size but are also institutionally weaker; the "tyranny of the majority" concept can be used as a narrative tool by both secular and theocratic states to suppress minorities on the basis that they pose a threat in becoming majority if they are allowed to gain social and political power; in some cases, leaders of the majority religion may in fact be in favour of suppressing minority groups or new religious movements which may be deemed "cults"; local authorities are given significant leeway in how they apply registration laws which means that such laws end up being erratically and arbitrarily imposed; more research needs to be conducted on the impacts of registration requirements from a qualitative perspective at the local, practical, personal level; registration issues could potentially be related to problems such as terrorism and extremism due to the grievances that issues of registration are likely to sow; recognition can be a double-edged sword because even though a lack of recognition evidently causes significant problems for unrecognised groups so too do groups that hold recognition and thereby often hold very close relationship to the state, they are also likely to possess significant difficulties in both maintaining that recognition and compromising on state actions that may not necessarily reflect religious doctrine (e.g. ROC's relations with the Kremlin); a focus in research is placed on outright persecutions on religious groups and for good reason but more attention needs to be placed onto these more subtle but more long-lasting restrictions and how they impact religious freedom; more awareness and understanding needs to be established around registration law, laws which on paper may seem reasonable to most but in practice actually have a largely negative impact on a significant amount of religious minorities; there have been swift, discriminatory responses to events like suicide cults in which many other new religious movements are banned or restricted because the government assumes they have the potential to engage in the same behaviour (restrictions on other groups can be aptly understood as the collateral damage of restrictions imposed on institutional religious freedom); a better understanding needs to be established on the connection between restrictions placed on what institutions can do and how this connects and translates to impacts on individual and collective rights; registration issues often arise from fears surrounding how a religious group will impact and more specifically change the local or national culture; registration and recognition is therefore used to curb social or political change; monitoring and reviewing registration and recognition issues is essential to an approach in eventually solving these issues; the principle of "formally neutral and generally applicable" is problematic; collective and institutional rights are indistinguishable in some senses but registration requirements often have the objective of separating these categories of rights so that they can get away more easily with restricting religious organisations rather than infringing directly onto collective religious activity; it is very difficult to determine a country's intent especially surrounding issues of the ambiguity of registration procedures and their onerousness but in fact intent becomes irrelevant because the fact that these policies hold a negative impact on a religious group supersedes the question of whether this is intended or not; nefarious intent can therefore be determined by the consequences of restrictions which countries should then have the opportunity to deny and then to resolve; even though faith leaders agree with religious doctrines, but may disagree with how their institution is run, they feel they cannot leave to establish their own organisation because they would have no legitimacy; minorities are forced to understand the majority; how states misuse of registration as a means to demonstrate their religious tolerance but it is tolerance based on the fact that the group does as the state prescribes; it is possible that organisations that are not "religious" could sign up with the intention of receiving benefits exclusively bestowed to religious organisations; ways that the RFSRB could have real impact in this area is by galvanising a much deeper understanding of the mechanisms of registration at each stage and how these different stages impact practically the religious group and personally the group members; the Global Religious Recognition Report could be added to ARDA; issues of recognition are closely intertwined with social pressures; what does a country allow to take place in the society regarding inter-religious tension (e.g. India); trying coding the data from the Religious Recognition Report to make it more digestible and reusable for those involved in the field; your country-specific approach is not only appropriate but is essential; thematic reports on registration and recognition issues should still exist but should not be the sole material on this topic; all human rights are symbiotic so when you start denying one right this negatively impacts the others; online and offline options for registration can be a facilitative approach to registration procedures; using ambiguous terms like "onerous" and providing a couple of thematic examples of issues taking place isn't enough to resolve the registration issues which is why a country-specific approach is needed; the issue of cultural relativism is apparent when ambiguous terms are used to describe registration issues and standards and there is a lack of country-specific recommendations; countries that don't have explicit registration procedures tend to impose other forms of restrictions that are underlying (both by the state and by the culture) and implicit than those states that have explicit registration policies; facilitation means to have a level playing field and have the freedom to exist (in the broad sense of what "existing" for a religious group encompasses); registration benefits can in some cases cause a competitive culture between religious groups in which the majority then attempts to deny minorities of the same privileges it receives; registration and recognition issues is the topic that needs to be brought to the forefront of discourses on religious freedom.

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Professor Elizabeth Clark

Associate Director for the International Center for Law and Religion Studies; Regional Advisor on Religious Freedom in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

Main insights:

Recognising and registering religions, religious organisations and religious activity is certainly misused by a number of countries to exert control of citizens. This kind of misuse of widespread because 1. a consequence of administrative hassle systemic to bureaucratic states 2. those dealing with religious recognition tend not to be part of the "power ministries" such as the finance ministry, ministry of the interior, or ministry of defense for example 3. a lack of attention has been directed towards the area of recognition and registration issues from international bodies. The diversity of religious belief is seldom reflected in the outcomes of recognition. A tiered model of RoRB variables for the purpose of structuring RoRB standards could be helpful in deciphering which variables are central to registration and recognition procedures and which are more peripheral. It was also suggested during the interview that it could be valuable to consider RoRB restrictions through the lens of their enforceability, namely the consistency, frequency, and severity to which RoRB restrictions are enforced by the state. On the basis that religion is frequently instrumentalised to achieve political goals, so too is recognition undergoing a similar process of instrumentalisation in which it and registration are being misused to achieve the goals of some states to control the religious activities of citizens. The misuse of registration emerges as one of the major practical difficulties for individuals in the everyday practice of their religion. Registration issues can be a harbinger for worse violations of FoRB to come. The 'issue of opportunity' arises when countries seek to disestablish religions but state privilege remains which then begs the question: is it better to rid the privileges of that previous state religion so that its relations with the state restart on an equal footing with all other groups or is it better to provide all other groups or give the opportunity for all other groups to achieve the same privileges as the religion which currently enjoys state privilege; there needs to be a conceptual change that transitions the purpose of registration from serving to protect the state to facilitating religion or belief; determining the permissibility of registration requirements should be based on their necessity and their proportionality and so RoRB standards can be structured accordingly; changes in legislation will either come via court cases or through diplomatic efforts with guidelines dispensed by organisations like the OSCE with the international scope can help to provide the frameworks necessary to guiding positive change; reducing registration systems to their "bare-bones" could be necessary if there are deep, systematic problems with the registration procedures or if problems elsewhere in government are negatively impacting registration law.

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Professor Jonathan Fox

Director of the Religion

and State Project


Main insights:

the data and anecdotal evidence to the widespread and increasing use of registration as a tool to control or restrict religious activity; human rights tend to be interconnected; recognition and registration systems are inevitable; there is no issue with the notion that religious organisations require separate procedures of registration from secular organisations; religion thrives when the government is hands-off; how is a government qualified to define whether a religion is legitimate or not; governments that seek to control religion tend to use registration as a tool to do that; registration is a convenient and effective tool to achieve these aims; registration is not the issue, it is the underlying motive of governments to want to control religion that is the problem; the area of religious registration definitely deserves further research; registration becomes an issue for religious freedom when (1) not all religions are allowed to register and (2) there are consequences for remaining unregistered; governments have to decide which religions they are going to fund and who they are not going to fund; recognition and registration are necessary and unavoidable policies; if governments intend to fund religions, they should do it in as equitable a manner as possible; an anecdote about state-religion relations in Norway emerged the notion that some would prefer their religions to be smaller to remain without state funding but retain their autonomy; institutional religious freedom has a lack of protection and attention because it is still a relatively new concept and any protections for it that do exist do so under the rubric of general religious freedom;

governments that have the intention of restricting religious activity are always going to find or invent ways and means of doing so; a specific approach is easier in theory than in practice; there are always "trade-offs" when it comes to recommendations made regarding religious freedom; you have to be a legal entity to own a bank account as a religious organisation which means that registration must logically precede having a bank account or owning property which then places much more onus on the restrictivity of the registration procedures which is such an effective tool to control and also shows how power registration is; broadcasting is necessarily regulated although broadcasting is less of an issue today due to the rise of social media; some countries are more bureaucratic than others due to cultural and historical reasons; you want registration and recognition to mean something, to have genuine worth; state recognition has no existential meaning for me but it does hold practical meaning in the sense that the government will not come to close the place of worship down; UN recommendations have little to no impact; even the most rational or seemingly fair registration standards may end up restricting some religious activity even if this is not intended; registration laws are often created to protect public interest in areas such as public health and sanitation as well as issues such as profanity and nudity; you cannot construct a form of registration that doesn't in some way infringe on religious activity but you also cannot do without registration; standards won't convince governments that have the intention of controlling religious activity via registration but they are also irrelevant to countries that have the intention of using registration for genuine purposes; however, categorising and creating standards for when registration is and isn't being abused is useful; when creating registration laws, you need to be as inclusive as possible; the goal should be to reduce as many cases of discrimination as possible and to create mechanisms for doing with such cases whenever they arise; there are different conceptions of religious freedom that make standards on religious freedom difficult to create; restrictions on religious institutions is of principal concern to me; "reasonable" to take a temporal perspective on registration variables.

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Professor Silvio Ferrari

Life Honorary President of the International Consortium for Law and Religion Studies


Main insights:

registration issues are on the increase because a more diverse body of religious organisations are more active and powerful than in previous times when one single religion often dominated the society; a more diverse body of religious organisations are able to mobilise people more than in the past and so the state has established mechanisms of recognition and registration to try to moderate these activities; membership quotas, longevity quotas and screening of tenets of a religious group are of principal concern; screening of religious doctrine is only acceptable when it is implied in regards to the respect of human rights; according to international human rights standards, all religious organisation have a right to obtain legal personality that allows them to perform basic activities; there exists a hierarchy of registered statuses in some countries with each stage ascending in terms of the number and quality of benefits bestowed; the state has the right to establish some limits for the highest level of registered status; these limits need to be "proportionate" and each level should be able to be attained by all groups; the activity of any organisations, whether religious or secular, is liable to some form of regulation or control by the state so as to say that registration restrictions are not necessarily unique to religious organisations but also impact other kinds of organisations; the state has power over organisations operating within its borders; the content of a registration system rather than the need of a registration system should be the topic of consideration; registration is a necessity for all organisations in contemporary states; however, the requirements for being registered need to be adequate to the character of a religious organisation; recognition is based on the distinction between church and state which is the centre-point of both cultural and religious traditions; sympathising to institutional religious freedom as religious organisations require a legal framework of freedom that goes beyond the individual borders and concerns the right of collective religious freedom; however, institutional religious freedoms may come to clash with individual rights especially around the role of men and women; support for individual rights, however, are symbiotic to institutional rights because if a person who does not agree with the religion to which they belong should be free to firstly leave that religion and secondly, to start a religion of their own or alternatively to join a religion that does reflect their values; in some states, institutional rights are stronger than those of the individual; recognition involves state bodies while registration involves an administrative procedure to make the state aware of your existence so recognition is something received while registration is something that is put forth by a group; registration is often connected to procedures found and performed in front of tribunals; to go one step further than perhaps what the current international standards protect, religious groups should have the right to obtain legality personality as religious organisations on the basis that there are different needs that religious organisations have that make them distinct from all other kinds of organisations; recognition and registration procedures must be transparent meaning that there should be systems put in place to remedy potential problems and it is on this issue that international bodies need to step up their attention by setting standards; it is essential that state procedures for recognition or registration does not involve an assessment of the contents or doctrine of the religion or belief group attempting to gain recognised or registered status; an RoRB Report would be helpful if it comes from an independent authority, especially if created by a consortium of universities from different countries that each present an independent report on RoRB conditions in their state to the international consortium that is then able to publish the Global Religious Recognition Report; a weakness of the present system for monitoring religious freedom is that nations monitor religious freedom conditions but outside their own borders; the temporal categorisation of the registration system used in your research is a good framework; foreign missionary work and funding for a religious group from abroad should not be subject to registration and restrictions should only be placed onto such activities of groups found to have engaged in criminal activity and terrorism, a more open attitude should be adopted regarding foreign funding and missionaries of foreign origin; permissible grounds for the denial of registration include the group being involved in if the group is clearly not religious or belief-based or is for-profit or if the group is involved in criminal activities; there is a debate over whether yoga is a religion; a religion is a sect that has managed to survive for long enough which then means that ancient religions like Christianity have had to endure the same if not worse struggles than the new religious movements like Scientology are experiencing today in terms of their struggle for both social and legal recognition; constructing a place of worship should not be subjected to registration, therefore suggesting that it should be classified as a "basic religious activity"; a religious organisation's ability to lease property and to open a bank account should also not be subjected to registration, again suggesting these as "basic religious activities"; the variant cultures and histories of different regions of the world mean that RoRB standards may have to be tailored regionally and cannot necessarily be applied in the same universal sense as fundamental human rights are dispensed; the OSCE has chosen to take a soft approach; opposed to the U.S. approach of sanctioning countries that do not respect human rights; the soft of the OSCE and the hard approach of the U.S. are both unconvincing.


Seventh-day Adventist

living in Haiti


Main insights:

I have been discriminated against based on my religion and I have been refused employment because I am an Adventist; religious intolerance and discrimination is a stagnation on both our personal lives and for societal progress overall and indeed religious minorities receive the worst consequences of this kind of stagnation; "every time this happens, I feel helpless; sometimes this arouses, among other things, legitimate anger and bitterness"; the continued high levels of religious intolerance in society demonstrates to me that a lot of work still needs to be done; religious freedom should not be an ideal but a fact crucial to the development of a harmonious public space; the level of crime and excesses committed under the guise of religion can contribute significantly to state restrictions imposed on religious activity in legitimate degrees; however, there are measures that can be implemented that do not threaten the fundamental principle of religious freedom; historical and current reality has shown that the state religion is a threat to freedom of thought; one need only cite as an example the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre and the condemnation to death for blasphemy in certain Muslim States; religious freedom is a world heritage to be protected; the recognition of my faith by the Government is important for me and for my community, not only does it allow us to better express our beliefs publicly, but also to live out our faith; also, recognition allows us to have our own religious offices and institutions to serve the community without any fear; once, the government fixed the State University entrance examination on our worship day, it really touched the community. We did what we could, but the government did not reverse its decision. We felt disrespected and weak, but, and we understood the urgency of fighting for the respect of religious freedom; lack of recognition sometimes means we are not considered as a community in the state's decisions and then leads to the exclusion of our opinions; there are always frustrations against the religious communities that do not establish themselves in such a way that they gain recognition and respect; "to be honest, when it happened for the job issue, I was depressed and nervous; however, I understood that God did not want me to put my skills at the service of the institution in question, and my faith had become stronger"; the more your group is recognized, the better you feel, and this well-being will have positive impacts on yourself and your community; the resolution of the problem of religious discrimination is as urgent as that of ecology and world hunger, or any other reality that represents a threat to humanity; the reason is that any violation of freedom leads to other violations of other freedoms, and when freedoms are violated, we must expect the worst; in some countries, the Seventh-day Adventist Church has struggled to gain recognition; the causes for this are numerous, including the reality of the state religion, and intolerance to new beliefs, or even socio-cultural disparities involving questions of faith, for example marriage and the question of gender identity; it would help a lot if greater recognition were bestowed to my religion especially to support wider societal understanding of my community's religious beliefs, develop a sense of belonging to the human community, my belief in the right to life and the recognition of diversity as a value.


Professor Elizabeth Prodromou

Faculty Director of the Fletcher Initiative on Religion, Law,

and Diplomacy


Main insights:

there has been an under-appreciation of the significance of RoRB impacting FoRB; registration and recognition law is instrumentalised by some states to surveillance, intelligence-gathering and penetration; the key question is how do we understand on a case-by-case basis as well as comparatively and systematically the ways in which RoRB can be used to enrich FoRB as well as to violate FoRB; the distinction between law and culture, between state and society; a societal culture that acknowledges and embraces inclusivity and pluralism; a positive articulation between the state and laws on one hand and the society and pluralisation; horizontal and vertical pluralisation is at work; law is a necessary but is alone not a sufficient component of RoRB as the society has to be one that is inclusive to pluralisation for the laws to work which has been difficult for countries with long histories of religious homogenisation; without recognition, registration has a far less robust capacity to support FoRB; the origin and founding conditions of states are important to consider for RoRB but they help us to consider patterns of heterogeneity and homogeneity; new religious movements have been catalyst for recognition and registration issues; historicising the questions of RoRB will be important for future research which will help in the legislative dimension; operationalisation of the concept of institutional religious freedom; institutional religious freedom is a concept still in its infancy and development; legal personality is the most important expression and mechanism for enabling institutional religious freedom (no legal personality means no ability to engage in the full range of activities); property is essential to the facilitation of religious worship, religious identity and the commercial viability of a religious organisation and so property rights are essential to both RoRB and FoRB; to express, practice and sustain themselves, religious groups require legal personality to perform such activities devoid of state interference; regime-type is most salient to RoRB, especially in terms of comparisons between how authoritarian and democratic governments use registration and recognition laws differently; registration law is the mechanism by which authoritarian regimes encounter the broader question of human rights; religious diversification and pluralisation is central to the reason why registration and recognition law is being discussed today at a moment of conjunction in history; questions of registration pertain to questions of citizenship; the dimension of "humans on the move" is going to be an increasing factor in the intensification of registration issues; the relationship between recognition and registration has yet to be robustly explored; the correlation and causality between RoRB and FoRB; a fuller understanding of the commercial dimension of religious organisations needs to be achieved which will contribute to a better understanding of sustaining and thriving (not merely just to survive) religious communities; states can play a facilitative role by ensuring the equal treatment of religious communities within the economic regime; public education and judicial practice can be used by the state to demonstrate its facilitation of religious pluralism; does the state provide security to faith communities equally; I'm not convinced that the state providing economic resources to faith communities neither feasible nor produces positive outcomes; uniformity is the crucial factor in state facilitation of religion in whether a religious group survives and thrives or whether there are unintended consequences for faith communities; the use of quotas like membership and longevity instantly creates a "stacked system" geared in favour of more established or indigenous religious groups; the material consequences of personal status laws need to be considered; misuse of registration laws, such as delayed registrations, seeks to permanently disenfranchise religious communities; the question needs to be "is there a recourse that the state has establish to combat these issues or even recourses at the international level?"; in whatever standards that are created for RoRB, the onus and the burden should be placed on the state as the initiator of the registration process; the absence of standards and consensus on standards is the point of departure; standardisation, compliance, and enforcement are sequential; a large difference between standardisation and compliance; questions of transparency and burden placed on either faith communities or the state as well as the issue of timeline; the paradox of increasing violation on FoRB and RoRB despite the mainstreaming of FoRB issues and the development of a series of mechanisms to facilitate FoRB.


Reverend Dr. Malcolm Brown

Director of Faith and Public Life at The Church of England


Main insights:

the position of The Church of England is to create a clear distinction – described as a Chinese wall – between the world religions and new religious movements as well as sects within world faiths, a view which has practical implications regarding who are and are not invited to interfaith dialogue such as via the Interfaith Network; this boundary is under pressure from new religious movements which are seeking greater recognition, being tested with the government in terms of state recognition and is being tested with the Church of England itself in the form of correspondence with the Archbishop of Canterbury who, if addresses the new religion in question, they take this to be a form of legitimacy; a loose criteria for distinguish 'great faiths' from 'sects' is that the religion in question has a "historic tradition" and "complex history" and that it has certain marks of being a "tradition" such as longevity, complexity, historicity, and diversity and not just a "sect"; reforms in marriage law could include a membership quota based on and connected to laws regarding places of worship; faith communities have very different aims than secularist groups which causes issues with dialogue because the latter have the aim of ousting the former from public life; there are many strands that attach and entangle The Church of England to the nationhood of England and the UK government; the complexities of disestablishment would cost much in time and money and would constitute an overhaul of the state in many ways; there is significant responsibility that comes with being the state religion; from the Church of England perspective, it sees itself as the religion of all British citizens which means that it has a duty to all citizens regardless of their professed faith; this duty manifests practically (in the form of allowing for any citizen to be married in a Church of England church or to use an Church of England church for their funeral) as well as spiritually (an Anglican vicar's duty to provide spiritual counsel to all whom seek it regardless of whether they are part of the Church of England or not); the scope and resources of the Church of England allow for it to provide a multitude of services to all citizens; there will need to be a much greater recognition of the diversity of religions in the UK at the next coronation; establishment can be eroded by stealth and disestablishment is whether the Church of England wishes to continue to maintain its duty to all citizens; antinomianism accelerated during the 1960s, causing an adolescent phase for humanity; religions are not equal in size, in esteem nor equal in history but procedural equality can be achieved; the Church of England, as a state religion, is extrospective rather than introspective; we are not good at distinguishing authority and power; the authority within the Church stems from the image of Jesus Christ being nailed to a cross without any power at all; there are three assets of the Church of England, first is its status as the state religion but this is a declining asset ("we go nowhere by right but by permission"), second is the nationwide scope of the Church to extend its presence in all communities in England (an asset under strain due to the resources to maintain this commitment), and the third source of the Church's authority is the difference the Church makes in communities as a growing asset (e.g. the Church's charity work); the notion that science has made redundant and as the justification for secularisation is false; resistance to dialogue with religion among scientists is negligible; England has a good balance between maintaining a state religion while holding to religious freedom which is itself an indivisible right.


James Patton

President & CEO of the International Center for

Religion & Diplomacy


Main insights:

a fine line between registration and freedom of practice; there are certainly state mechanisms used to restrict religious practice; securitisation rubric; dismissal of the legitimacy and recognition of the religion is at the heart of religious freedom violations; religious recognition is a religious freedom issue; recognition and lack thereof has roots in orthodoxy and heterodoxy; "where should recognition begin and end?"; the determinability of legitimate new religious groups; recognition could easily devolve into sanctioning the idea of faith as a state; when state atheism was lifted in former Soviet bloc countries, religious institutions filled the gap and re-established themselves to result in gaining state privilege; laws and institutional protections are not enough; religious literacy is fundamental to religious freedom and could also be crucial to religious recognition; state or inter-religious recognition creates a binary; a lot of pushback against new religious movement comes from religious groups already established; each religious group's ability to conduct their activities freely and to receive recognition equally is dependent upon their extension and respect for this ability to all other religious groups in the country; recognition in the form of sanctioning is counterproductive to religious freedom; the binaries that we sometimes create are harmful; we need to focus on the interpersonal rather than the formal and legal because focusing on the latter can be counterproductive; religious sanctioning; people seek acknowledgement of their identity which is about allowing them to feel heard; religious freedom upheld in the context of recognition equates to the freedom to self-define; identity conflict therefore arises from lack of acknowledgement and reduced freedom to self-define; conflict and violence is often the last resort undertaken by individuals after enduring long periods time of disacknowledgement; registration is an administrative act, recognition is an abstract concept in which the agency is on the institution or individual recognising another, while acknowledgement is the state and society allowing individuals to express themselves and to self-define, and finally affirmation is seeking out and receiving support for one's views and self-definitions which is not compatible with a pluralist society; exclusive theologies are also problematic and they place the onus back on religious institutions to not apply their exclusive theologies in such a way that negatively impacts religious freedom conditions; registration should be subservient to the principle that religious groups and individuals should not be imposed by the definitions of other religions and their leaders; we should be committed to radical pluralism (allowing people to be who and what they want to be); humans drift towards in-grouping and out-grouping so institutions have to be focused on protecting and promoting diversity on a constant, ongoing basis; reductionist identity; essentialist thinking (my identity hinges on a single thing) means that encountering people with different views will lead to feeling that the other person is a threat and existentialist thinking (my identity hinges on different things); conditionality (the more variables in a system that incline towards violence the more likely it is a that violence will happen) rather than causality; remove the state as much as possible from exercising regulation over religious activity; it would be near-impossible to have universal standards for registration implemented; it is advised that an investigative piece on registration be sought that analyses how registration functions; religious rightness is also a concern.


Pentecostal Christian of the 8th CEPAC Community

living in Democratic Republic of the Congo


Main insights:

"when I was 13 years old, I was discriminated against both of the choice of my religion (Protestant Christianity) mainly by my peers"; when this was taking place, I felt very alone and that my views were not compatible with the society in which I was living; the social pressure felt by me as a young teenager was enough to make me change my religion on the outside for some time although I retained my true religion within but this saved me from being excluded from building friendships and to save myself from loneliness and isolation; more recognition of religions can actually lead to the fragmentation or seem to lead to the fragmentation of society because of the vast amounts of religious sects found in the DRC (the question that comes to mind here is, how many religions is too many?); when there are so many different religious denominations and sects in the country, the government is forced to react with regulations by to bring order and unity among the people; some pastors exploits uneducated women; most churches don't emphasise converting Gentiles to Christians anymore, but instead focus on converting Christians from other denominations to their denomination which has caused the multiplicity of revival churches; "I live in a very populated area. In my avenue alone, you can find more than 17 churches from different communities. So religion has restrictions on the development of societies because it compromises their development by locking them up for long hours, many days in prayer rooms, in mosques and asking them for offerings"; the legacy of colonisation in Africa has left traditional African religion subjugated by the religions of other peoples; I see the benefits of have a state religion for purposes of bringing order and unity for fragile nations as well as to reduce social hostilities but these aims should not be achieved at the expense of religious freedom; Kimbanguism is an example of an African-initiated endogenous church that infuses Congolese traditions with Christianity; recognition of my religion by the state is very important to me, primarily for practical reasons because in the DRC, unrecognised religions may arouse the attention of state officials who can cause difficulty or whom are often corrupt who may order a church to stop its activities; a religion not recognised by the state is a religion that will find difficult to thrive; I understand the importance of recognition by the state for the functioning of a religion because the religion I was born into has been recognised in the DRC since colonial times as it was brought to the DRC by the Europeans although other newer churches cannot say the same and they suffer from lack of recognition; in some African countries, whether you suffer persecution today is based on which religions your ancestors were proselytised into during the colonial period; lack of recognition leads to state placing obstacles in the way for your religion to thrive as well as a lack of socialisation for those within a minority faith community who may be shunned by their family members and peers for their religion; persecution or segregation based on religion or belief means the society or the state does not want that person or people in the region which is indeed based on a refusal to recognise that person or people's legitimate existence in the country (this raises questions surrounding recognition and citizenship as well as recognition as the facilitator of belonging); recognition of religion or belief by the state correlates with what it means to promote freedom of religion or belief; support for wider recognition would undoubtedly lead to a real positive change for the mentality of people who reprimand others without basis; recognition must be in accordance with constitutional principles on religion and belief; its not obvious whether more recognition for alternative or new religions will promote pluralism; the exclusive theologies of Abrahamic religions are also problematic because smaller or traditional religions are seen as beneath which leads to discrimination and inequality therefore recognition between religions is crucial for religious freedom; to put an end to the discrimination of smaller or indigenous religions in Africa, the state would have to restrict or regulate presence of certain communities so that the indigenous ones could flourish; the recognition of many religions in Africa has, on the contrary, led to conflicts between pastors, between Christians and serious conflicts with the rulers; let's say, in a country where there is only one religion, people have the same way of thinking and reflecting on a fact; the cases of Italy, Saudi Arabia and again Iran are perfect examples; recognising freedom of religion for every person is a positive aspect, but we have arrived in a world where freedoms are expanded and have compromised the chances of some to succeed; freedom of religion should be done according to the realities of each country and this in connection with its culture and its beliefs; religions imported from somewhere have led to disparities in the leaders of certain communities in the world; religion must be endogenous and must not come from another civilization because, in some observations, religion is a strategy to propagate cultural imperialism in the world by targeting certain civilizations.


Presbyterian Christian

living in India


Main insights:

the fact that he is stated that because he is part of the "majority religion" in that part of India (the Northeast) actually shows that being a minority can cause discrimination and institutional hurdles in India but the true and universal application of FoRB means that even if you are part of the minority or fringe of the religious landscape, you may still practice and exercise your beliefs freely; the dichotomy of the minority juxtaposed with the majority perpetuates the notion that being part of the majority secures your religious rights more than if you are part of a minority; discrimination and lack of recognition on social media is of concern; involved in student welfare, I have been faced with Christians evicted from their homes in neighbouring states looking for a place to live back in their hometowns; hatred for non-believers is politically-fuelled and holds roots in racism; forced conversions do take place and lynching of members of opposing churches does take place in India but has largely been ignored by the state and media due to the minority status of Christians and the focus remaining on Muslim-Hindu relations; there are minorities and majorities but there also exists minorities within minorities and it is these that suffer especially from lack of recognition and provisions by the state; politicians cater to whatever majority religious population exists; where religion is used as a political tool, I feel that it can be justifiable to restrict its propagation to an extent; the restriction of belief, worship or discussion however, is not justifiable; "the religion of the majority becomes the state’s religion; it is not so much wrong as it is natural and statistically inevitable and if religion is to exist in any form, I cannot say that it is wrong for a country to hold a state religion"; the state can have its religion but individuals and communities should be able to have their own; "yes, Christians are formally recognized as a minority in India and that comes with its benefits in every sphere; at the state level, it does not make much of a difference"; apart form stipends and lower cut-off points, the government does not do enough to protect basic rights of minority religious groups; "this formal and superficial recognition of religious minorities is hypocritical and is in essence just another facet of politics. Sadly, Christian states are not so different. This abuse of religion makes me feel that putting it in black and white or on forms should be banned"; "there is no lack of recognition per se, but rather, a lack of affection. The discrimination of religious minorities in some parts of the country has pushed back emigration to a large extent. The tribal communities, including the one I am part of, is wary of traveling or living in particular states and this becomes a huge problem because the infrastructure and education in tribal states are nothing compared to those in the big cities"; yes, I know of many Christians who have been forced to say ‘Jay Shri Ram’ (Praise Lord Ram) or break a coconut for example; the Christians themselves don’t normally spread such news but the social media does. I think people who have been bullied by mobs to do such things spend the rest of their service cowering in fear and long to return to the Northeast where we are a majority; if my basic rights were violated in such a way, I would immediately return to where I live now; there is no use going to the authorities; the fear and humiliation would be too much to handle; absolutely, a greater recognition of our beliefs would enable our tribal communities to work and study in the big cities and this will undoubtedly bring progressive change; I think that a state's commitment of more resources to religious recognition will support the promotion of pluralism; governments should be active to make sure that people who discriminate on a religious basis should be liable; this is necessary because for such a communally diverse country like India, everyone is a minority somewhere and if one group faces discrimination in one part of the country, it naturally causes a backlash in another and quickly leads to communal disharmony; the Government should ban politics backed up by religion; too many politicians have spat out hate speeches against religious groups (there was recently a huge riot in India because of one such speech) only to gain favour with another; any promotion or condemnation by politicians should be banned; and there should be strict policing of hate crimes; greater recognition would definitely bring down violence but definitely not sectarian hate because any sort of preferential treatment or upgrade of rights and benefits could only add fuel to the fire in some way. Conflict between religions and communities, even if devoid of violence, will always exist because of difference in belief and opinions; if there are rights we gain at the expense of the freedom of others, we do not deserve them and should be stripped of them as punishment. We must refresh our opinions on what religion is. Of course, much of it involves collectiveness but we have forgotten that faith in any form is first personal; if we do this and stick to the teachings of whatever/whoever we worship, I am sure most of our current problems will be dealt with because no religion, as far as I know, teaches hate.


Katharine Thane

Peacebuilding & Religious Freedom Policy Coordinator at Tearfund's JISRA


Main insights:

a focus on relatively small, practical changes can have a big difference on conditions facing individuals; new religious movements are seeking recognition and registration and their experiences are exposing issues in the legal frameworks and on how registration is administered; registration issues can be the impetus for why new religious movements involve themselves in FoRB; struggles for recognition come from a place of pain for lack of recognition while hurdles to registration and recognition arise from a place of fear; some prominent new religious movements have the monetary power which gives them the voice while other smaller new religious movements that do not have the monetary power have their stories less addressed; Scientologists are not recognised in Mexico and they are not getting the rights that other religions receive; some groups express that they think they deserve the rights to tax breaks and other benefits traditionally associated with registered or recognised status; we need to always defer to those who are directly experiencing registration issues when considering how to tackle the problem; there are potential issues with abolishing recognition systems but there are also issues with extending significant privileges to religious institutions; recognition systems should not be used to protect and maintain the resources, privilege and political access of certain religious groups; it is concerning that recognition system perpetuate the domination of a single religion or a handful; or do recognition systems protect the people within the religion; the justifiability of recognition systems is therefore based on who or what is the recipient of the benefits of recognition; the issue of institutional religious freedom is whether it could lead to inhibiting heterodox movements which would then be anti-FoRB; granting institutions FoRB would very quickly undermine broader FoRB and would turn political; institutions don't really exist, they are a social construct; individual and collective rights in the current human rights framework are enough to be extended over institutions to protect from state practices; there is enough scope within FoRB to analyse it for implementation to protect religious organisations from them not being able to thrive through practical restrictions; registration means recognition for some groups; do not enter FoRB in a confrontational (blaming and shaming way) pushes those countries you are trying to convince further away; to resolve registration and recognition issues, we need to gain a much clearer understanding of why they are arising from within the government, namely what fears, whether justifiable or irrational, are driving governments to institute legislation that limits religious activity through registration; human rights courts have the expertise and authority to resolve registration issues but 

they don't address the fear and there remains two opposing sides "us and them"; it is important for religious recognition to be theoretically expanded as there is not enough headspace (mental and emotional capacity) for people to dedicate themselves to specialties; an error that some make is to state that their subfield is the most important within FoRB, instead the subfield should be taken into consideration as part of the broader set of issues involving FoRB; there is a huge discrepancy between policy and practice; the consequentialist approach regarding nefarious intent is the right way to go; it is permissible for religious groups to wish to be granted separate legal status from secular entities such as business and charities; hesitant to separate to religion from other kinds of belief-based organisations; create a philosophical-worldview category of association as the middle ground to satisfy all types of belief-based entities; some religious institutions have funded certain aspects of FoRB with detrimental effect; standards are needed even if they are necessarily progressive and are never the finished product; standards are really needed, have compassionate for all sides such as comprehending the fear and nervousness underlying registration and recognition issues; integrate RoRB into the Sustainable Development Goals as a justification for how recognition and registration can support humans thriving through state and social facilitation; the OSCE has to please states which is all fear-based which inhibits the ability of both to engage on FoRB issues; we must name countries that are misusing registration but just not blame and shame them; cultural relativism is used to justify bad behaviour and is the key argument for those who are anti-human rights and is used as a justification to keep things the way they are; facilitation and facilitators allow for collective wisdom and solution-making to emerge from different sectors; facilitation also allows for movement away from ego (the idea that we as individual's don't have all the answers); the biggest issue to solve is the decolonisation of human rights and FoRB.


Mormon missionary

active in Mongolia


Main insights:

poor treatment and rejected service as a missionary both in the United States and in Mongolia; despite the LDS Church being recognised in Mongolia, this missionary explained that despite the recognition for their Church granted by the government, they continued to feel "nervous about immigration coming to interrogate us or send us home" and "made me feel nervous to be there and sad that I couldn’t talk openly with people about my beliefs"; this indicates that recognition is not always a guarantee of religious freedom and equal treatment and protection by the government; lack of recognition "hinders the growth and maintenance of the Church’s congregation and fosters discouragement and prejudice throughout the world for members of my faith"; however, sometimes a lack of recognition can galvanise a greater faith in God among members; "There are many places in the world where my faith isn’t recognized as an actual religion which makes it difficult for people to practice it"; recognition and freedom to practice one's religion are integral to community and fellowship among members; "I would hate for someone to feel forced into believing something and I think that is counteractive to developing a relationship with God"; "I do not believe that religious beliefs should be restricted, and I do not believe that the government has a right to force people what to believe. For many years our Church has prayed that we would be able to do missionary work in China (for right now missionaries are not allowed to be sent there). I think of the joy I have experienced through my faith in Jesus Christ, and it saddens me to know that there are millions who have no access to exploring their faith"; "it makes me deeply sad to see and experience these things happen, and not just for members of my faith but of all faiths. As a deeply religious person I know of the weight it carries in someone’s heart and life"; the fact that Latter-Day Saint beliefs often challenge mainstream or traditional Christianity is suggested as a further reason why restrictions imposed on the LDS Church and why it remains unrecognised in some countries; government backing of one religion gives that religion a sense of superiority over all others; recognition can in some cases in practical terms mean less recognition for one or all other religions; greater recognition for all religions would create a level playing field on which all religions could flourish; support for greater levels of government resources funnelled towards recognising and facilitating new or alternative religious groups is a "good thing"; greater representation for new or alternative religions in both the media and in education systems is important to facilitating greater recognition.


Oneness Pentecostal


living in the Philippines


Main insights:

"I live in a country where religion is the main accepted" which suggests that in some countries, the government does not discriminate according to denomination as long as individuals identify with the religion as a whole; religious activity should never be restricted by the state; the fact that my country doesn't have a state religion means that we though we still have Christianity as the majority religion, other religious groups still feel comfortable in practicing; however, state holidays remain oriented around Christianity still; it is incredibly important to me and the religious community of which I am a member that the government recognises us as Christians so that we can freely practice our religion; in this sense, the state's recognition of a religion is the gatekeeper to free practice of that religion in the country; a lack of recognition from the state to practice one's religion makes unrecognised groups and individuals feel persecuted; there is a distinction that should be made between feeling persecuted and being persecuted; more recognition for religions by the state would help religiously homogenous countries in becoming more pluralistic; the Oneness Pentecostal Church has struggled and continues to struggle in certain countries due to it being a breakaway from large mainstream branches of Christianity. Many people view us as being narrow minded and intolerant: this is untrue and based on stereotyping; "the more you know about what others believe, the more you understand about them and you find out that they're just ordinary people like you. I have friends with different faiths and they're still my friends because they're good, decent people".



Jehovah's Witness

living in exile in Denmark


Main insights:

The post-Soviet states have given registration a more central role in their legislation because of its efficiency in filtering out religious groups that the state does not favour; it is the state that is given recognition and registration the kind of power that it has to restrict religious activity; in Kazakhstan, Jehovah's Witnesses can offer literature inside their own building but not outside; conscientious objection was the issue for Jehovah's Witnesses in Armenia and Russia; Jehovah's Witnesses are the target of police and police raids in Russia; religions range from favoured, recognised, registered, unregistered, unrecognised and banned; in Russia, religious groups cannot survive without registration let alone thrive; authorities will ask a group if they are registered and they want to know what organisation you are part of; the Jehovah's Witnesses used to be registered before their ban; although they had problems when registered, they had the legal standing to pursue remedial procedures for any violations of their freedoms but without legal entity status and registration they don't have this ability now; although back then the police may not have liked what the JW were doing, they had no legal standing to stop them; the most common punishment for Jehovah's Witnesses is imprisonment; the Russian government views the Jehovah's Witnesses as an American religion attempting to Westernise Russian citizens; the Russian government sees that religion should be intertwined with the state like the Orthodox Church is so they applying this same thinking to other countries and see that American religions for example have their ultimate loyalty lying with the American government which highlights one of the reasons why the Russian government has imposed restrictions on the Jehovah's Witnesses from thriving in the country; historical examples of persecutions of Christians emboldens Jehovah's Witnesses to believe that they belong to the true religion; the JW were registered in Crimea in 2016 as local religious organisations but then the 2017 Russian ban came into effect which then applied to both Russia and Crimea; JW do not have registered status in Abkhazia or South Ossetia but they are not banned there; Russian police do not want to break the law themselves by allowing Jehovah's Witnesses to practice even if they might personally sympathise with them as peacefully practicing their religion; state recognition is not an aim but instead no interference of the state is the goal; minority religions sympathise with the JW on registration issues because they know that firstly the same could happen to them very quickly and that secondly a ban on JW will also indirectly negatively impact their practice of their religion too meanwhile the Orthodox Church welcomed the 2017 ban; the apolitical views of the JW can actually cause tensions with the state when authoritarian government demands political conformity; lack of recognition certainly contributes to a lack of welcoming for religious groups; respect and recognition are intertwined but respect should be the basis of recognition to achieve genuine forms of recognition; after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Russian Constitution has all the fundamental principles but a gradual decline has taken place that has made conditions for religious freedom devolve and has lead to the creation of their own so-called democratic standards; Putin likely delegated the JW ban to the General Prosector Office, the FSB, and the Ministry of Justice; the Russian security services and the Russian Orthodox Church worked against the JW for years to make the ban happen; Jehovah's Witnesses are Russian citizens yet they are not protected by the Russian constitution; the recent ECHR decision has been too late – should have been made years ago; during investigations into the JW, a few have died under suspicion circumstances; the Criminal Court is used as the primary judicial tool against the Jehovah's Witnesses irrespective of what the Russian Constitution states; anti-extremism law deprives of people of their Russian citizenship; labelling Jehovah's Witnesses as "extremist" is a complete misrecognition of the religion; in a show trial in the Supreme Court, the Russian government has used the justification that because Jehovah's Witnesses profess an exclusivist theology, that they do not respect other religions and so therefore are extremist; the fact that the JW were fast-growing meant that they were targeted more; banned in Tajikistan and no registered status in Turkmenistan; state registration in Kazakhstan; local registration in Uzbekistan in one of the cities; Kyrgyzstan is the most welcoming to the JW out of the Central Asian countries; JW also have registered status in Mongolia; even though we have registered status in these countries, we are still restricted so registration needs to be considered country-by-country and in a relative way.




living in Pakistan


Main insights:

the constitution of Pakistan divides the population of the country between Muslims and non-Muslims and treats the religious minorities (the non-Muslims) as one homogenous group; minorities should not be treated in this way because each group has its own particular beliefs, history and ethnicity that manifest in groups having different needs and to be recognised as possessing those distinctions from others; there are also Islamic groups that see themselves as Muslims such as Ahmadis but that the Pakistani government does not recognise as Muslims; religious freedom should include protections for minorities in not being on the receiving end of socioeconomic disadvantage as is the case among Pakistani Christians who for example struggle more to receive and maintain employment due to discrimination or are simply not considered part of mainstream society because the government and constitution declare the country Islamic; religious minorities in countries where the state religion remains actively upheld become second-class citizens; only Muslims are allowed to be the prime minister or president of Pakistan and Ahmadis are not allowed to vote; because it would be practically impossible to change the laws in Pakistan, I advocate for economic equality for religious minorities so that we can at least prosper in the business and career worlds in the country to live decent lives; Christians are considered proxies of the West by the government and so therefore Christians are considered Westerners and may be subjected to be charged with treason; both identity cards and passports continue to show one's religion in Pakistan but new digital forms of associating religion with one's national identity are being created such as using systems to collect the thumbprints of citizens (changing the religion on the passport is very difficult and is almost impossible to change it if one is Muslim); Pakistani children are considered Muslim by default on their national identity documents unless parents explicitly tell authorities and if a mistake is made on the child's religion it is very difficult if not impossible to change it; filling out forms involving signing that I am a non-Muslim and if you are a Muslim, you have to sign a declaration of your belief in the fundamental tenets of Islam; there are judicial and social pressures around being non-Muslims; recognition by the Pakistani state of one's religion is important in so far as that it essentially affects my life as it decides that I must learn about Islam and Islamic culture because I am living in a country run according to Islamic principles so it is essential that I understand Islam; there are repercussions in Pakistani society if I was to be seen in a video arguing against Islam even if this video was taken in a Western country like the UK, I would face repercussions upon my return home such as detention at the airport; proselytising is definitely not allowed despite the fact that Article 20 of the Pakistan Constitution states the freedom to propagate; religious groups the government deems as non-Islamic are only allowed to register as NGOs and are not legally recognised as religious organisations (which constitutes a policy of non-registration) while there is a separate system of registration for Islamic groups; due to the high amounts of terrorism in the country, the government already deploys police presence to religious services and although they serve to protect, they have the dual purpose of controlling religious services which is organised through the District Authority; barbed wire and metal detectors at the doors are sometimes required for churches and mosques to hold services legally; there is an element of malregistration in Pakistan in that even if non-Muslim places of worship were registered as places of worship and religious organisations, the government does not have the ability to ensure the protection of those buildings and group members; I do not believe should be involved with religion at all; it is compulsory for all students to study Islamic studies as part of the national curriculum; there is now the subject ethics but the issue arose that this subject was more geared towards non-Muslims rather than including Muslim students as well; you cannot be atheist or non-religious officially in Pakistan; there is significant misunderstand and lack of education of religious minorities within the Pakistani government and officials, especially the nuanced differences between non-Islamic denominations; there is no interest in the distinctions between Sikhs, Hindus and Christians as the government is primarily concerned with whether one is Muslim or not; I question or am suspicious of the benefits can practically bestow via registration; state funding of religious minorities will be problematic as it will cause social upheaval; the Pakistan police are Islamic religious zealots; I don't think there is much the United Nations can do to resolve these religious freedom issues in Pakistan; my main issue is being excluded from the mainstream, from politics, from the conversation and from the life of the country; a focus needs to be placed on the economic prosperity of religious minorities as a variable in considering FoRB conditions; Islam as the state religion of Pakistan is an inherent characteristic of the country due to its history because it was propositioned as a homeland for Muslims.

Phase One (Preparatory work for PhD)

(November 2019 – December 2020)

  • Communications begin in November 2019 with Dr Carolyn King and Dr Carl Morris regarding my suitability for taking on PhD work at UCLan.

  • Cometan's first human rights work Islam in China & The Plight of the Uighurs is written and then published in December 2019.

  • Cometan writes his PhD proposal over the course of 2020 and submits the proposal in the autumn ready for January 2021 commencement of PhD studies.

Phase Two (First Year)

(January 2021 – April 2021)

  • Submission of RPA (Research Programme Approval) and ethics application, approvals for which were granted in April 2021, the latter being granted by Professor Christine Barter of UCLan for Category One participants.

  • Initial collection of references relating to recognition of religion or belief (RoRB).

  • Initial theorisation of recognition of religion or belief as well as the approach of recognitionism.

Phase Three (First Year)

(May 2021 – August 2021)

  • Initial development of the theory of recognitionism including recognition agency, sustainable recognition system and the extension of these to the thesis main body.

  • Creation of the Spectrum of Religious Recognition as well as the first iteration of the Religious Recognition Around The World table.

  • Writing first draft of the doctoral thesis.

Phase Six (Second Year)

(May 2022 – August 2022)

  • Completing the third draft of the doctoral thesis (focusing on parts 3 and 4).

  • Publication of Recognition of Religion or Belief on 29th June 2022 and the 2022 Global Religious Recognition Report on 14th June 2022.

  • Continue conducting interviews with Category One and Category Two participants and implementing main insights into the thesis notes.

  • Completion of the Category One and Category Two participant interviews.

Phase Five (Second Year)

(January 2022 – April 2022)

  • Founding The Religious Recognition Project and publishing the RoRB Index on

  • Work on the First Edition of Recognition of Religion or Belief begins and on the 2022 Global Religious Recognition Report.

  • Ethics approval for Category Two participants was granted on 28th January 2022 by Dr Douglas Martin.

  • Scheduling and conducting interviews with Category One and Category Two participants.

  • Theorising RoRB standards as part of the broader establishment of the RoRB framework.

  • Implementing discoveries from participant interviews into the thesis notes.

Phase Four (First Year)

(September 2021 – December 2021)

  • Completing second draft of the doctoral thesis with an emphasis parts 1, 2, 3 and 4.

  • Managing invitations and scheduling in the first wave of interviews for early 2022.

  • Further development of recognitionism, facilitationism and sustainable recognition.

  • Reapplying for ethics approval based on the new approach taken to interviews which will include participants who need to be anonymised for their safety.

Phase Seven (Second Year)

(September 2022 – December 2022)

  • Publish the 2022 RoRB Index (published 29th December 2022).

  • Transcribing all participant interviews and interpreting all data retrieved.

  • Continue implementing main insights into the thesis notes.

  • By December 2022, complete the fourth draft of the doctoral thesis.

  • Complete three journal articles, one of which is in collaboration with Professor Marco Ventura on religious recognition.

  • Completed PhD Transfer Viva on 5th December 2022 with Dr Philip Constable and Frank Harrington.

Phase Eight (Third Year)

(January 2023 – March 2023)

  • Receive feedback from Carl on the fourth draft of thesis.

  • Use Carl's feedback to complete the fifth draft of the doctoral thesis by the end of March 2023.

  • Complete the Associate Lecturer post at Lancaster University.

  • Complete the Associate Lecturer post at UCLan

  • Oversee the publication of the three journal articles.

Phase Nine (Third Year)

(April 2023 – August 2023)

  • Continue with Associate Lecturer posts at UCLan and Lancaster.

  • Complete the sixth draft of the doctoral thesis by June 2023.

  • PGR Conference and AHRA Summer Seminar lectures.

  • Send the sixth draft to Carl for review and feedback before the end of June.

  • Complete and publish the 2023 Global Religious Recognition Report.

  • On 14th April 2023, Dr Mark Hurst was confirmed as the external examiner.

  • On 26th April 2023, Dr Evan Lawrence was confirmed as the internal examiner.

Phase Eleven (Post-Thesis)

(January 2024 – July 2024)

  • Completed the doctoral viva (oral examination) in December 2023/January 2024 with Dr Mark Hurst as external examiner and Dr Evan Lawrence as internal examiner.

  • Graduation from the University of Central Lancashire with PhD held in July 2024.

Phase Ten (Third Year)

(September 2023 – December 2023)

  • Complete the seventh and final draft of the doctoral thesis.

  • Doctoral thesis proofread by Professor Michael York and Lancaster University student Summer Moyo-Hamilton.

  • The doctoral thesis was completed on 20th September 2023.

  • The doctoral thesis was submitted on 30th October 2023, a little later than expected to due to an administrative delay with the Chair of the Research Degrees Board.

  • Lecturing on modules and at events at both Lancaster University and UCLan.

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