In recognition of her contributions on behalf of religious freedom, BJC General Counsel Holly Hollman received the National Award at an annual dinner in Washington, D.C., hosted by the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Lincoln Steed, the editor of Liberty magazine, presented Hollman with the award on May 22. The annual event, held this year at the Organization of American States, brings together diplomats, United States government officials, religious leaders and religious liberty advocates.
Melissa Rogers, former director of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, gave a tribute to Hollman at the event. A former general counsel of the Baptist Joint Committee, Rogers praised Hollman’s work as a top-notch lawyer, consensus-builder and Baptist.
“She truly believes religious liberty is a gift from God,” Rogers said, noting how Hollman’s perspective informs her exceptional work, particularly in amicus briefs filed at the Supreme Court that are useful and engaging.
“Ms. Hollman has long been at the forefront of promoting a balanced understanding of religious freedom in the United States,” said Dwayne Leslie, Deputy Secretary General of the International Religious Liberty Association, one of the event’s sponsoring organizations. “Her influence has been far-reaching, not just through her work in crafting legal responses to religious freedom challenges, but also in the public arena, through her extensive writing, speaking, and media appearances.”
“I have seen how our shared religious liberty values can bridge deep differences,” Hollman said as she accepted the award. “I am honored to continue the legacy of those Baptists that have long fought for religious freedom for others.”
In addition to her duties as general counsel, Hollman also serves as the BJC’s associate executive director. She is an adjunct professor of law at the Georgetown University Law Center, where she co-teaches the Church-State Law Seminar.
“As a constitutional lawyer, I am fortunate to work in an area of law that is important to people from different religious and political perspectives,” Hollman said. “By protecting individual religious freedom and protecting against government advancement of religion, we honor our history and the important place of religion in our society.”
Abid Q. Raja, the deputy speaker of the Parliament of Norway, received the International Award at the dinner. In 2014, Raja was one of a small group of elected officials from different countries who together founded the International Panel of Parliamentarians for Freedom of Religion or Belief (IPPFoRB). Since then, the organization has grown to an informal network of 130 parliamentarians and legislators from around the world committed to combating religious persecution and advancing freedom of religion or belief, as defined by Article 18 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Aykan Erdemir, a former member of the Turkish Parliament, gave the keynote address. He is also a founding member of the IPPFoRB and a signatory legislator to the London Declaration on Combating Antisemitism. During his address, he spoke of the importance of bridge-building, reminding the crowd that reaching out does not mean compromising core principles. He also discussed the plight of Andrew Brunson, a pastor from the United States who is currently imprisoned in Turkey. “This is why our work matters,” he said.
The annual Religious Liberty Dinner is co-sponsored by the North American Religious Liberty Association, the International Religious Liberty Association, the Seventh-day Adventist world church and Liberty magazine.