Liberties in Lockdown 6 – Keeping the faith during COVID-19

Article 9 of the Convention on Human Rights makes explicit reference to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. It also recognises that these fundamental freedoms must occasionally be circumscribed so that they themselves are not an obstacle to “public order, health or morals, or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others”.

Restrictions to fundamental freedoms are unlikely to be received with open arms and compromises must therefore be found. Religion and faith go to the core of our nature as individuals. Not only is COVID-19 having a severe impact on our physical well-being, it is also having an impact on our spiritual well-being. Our experience of the coronavirus is encouraging us to question how we organise society, especially in settings characterised by large gatherings of people, such as religious congregations, where distancing is not always possible.

What does freedom of religion look like when freedom of assembly is restricted? Can religious gatherings be justified while other social gatherings remain banned? Can the services provided by a religious organisation be considered essential services during a pandemic?

These questions, and many more, will be tackled by our distinguished speakers during the sixth online event of ELF’s new series – Liberties in Lockdown.


It’s clear that COVID-19 will reshape our societies, and indeed our lives, in many ways. What will our world look like once the lockdowns have ended and the travel restrictions are lifted? Will we recognise our countries and cities; our neighbourhoods and friends? Will we recognise ourselves? For the next few weeks, each installment of the Liberties in Lockdown series will have a particular focus, looking at, among other things, the economy, digital privacy and healthcare. We hope you can join us for these important discussions.

Time: 9:30 – 10:30 (CEST)


Ibrahim Salama, PhD, Chief of the Human Rights Treaties Branch, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)

Vincent Depaigne, PhD, Policy Coordinator for the dialogue with churches, religious associations and philosophical and non-confessional organisations, DG for Justice and Consumers, European Commission

Matthias Belafi, PhD, Head of Department “Contacts with churches, Jewish communities and other religious and non-confessional communities”, State Chancellery of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

Moderated by:

Elisa Di Benedetto, Founding Member, Co-managing Director and Web editor, International Association of Religion Journalists

Opening remarks by:

Daniel Kaddik, Executive Director, European Liberal Forum

This event will be live-streamed on the European Liberal Forum Facebook page.

Organised by the European Liberal Forum.


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