Meet The Next Generation of Religious Freedom Advocates

May 31, 2019
Fli Insider Fellows Group

by Jared Besse • 6 min read

Last summer, I had the tremendous opportunity to intern with the marketing team at First Liberty Institute.

Before arriving, I knew the organization by its reputation, as I’d heard about some of their work in my classes. When I started my summer internship with the firm, I discovered the incredible work that they do every day to protect our first freedom. As a budding professional, I was encouraged by the quality of leaders at First Liberty Institute, who work diligently to promote and protect freedom in our country. All of this made me love the work they do, so much so that I wanted to come back again this summer.

For years, I’ve seen how our country has grown hostile toward religious liberty, and even apathetic and desensitized to attacks on that fundamental freedom. Not only that, I’ve also seen a rise in moral ambiguity, a lack of healthy dialogue, and an increase in hostility against Americans, like me, who want to live according to our faith. It’s made me realize that something must be done if we want to see religious freedom thriving once again in our country.

We can’t just sit on the sidelines, especially those of my generation. Millennials are becoming the face of America, and this is the time when we must join the fight for our first freedom.

A Pew Research study found that Millennials are now the largest generation in America. They account for 73 million of the nation’s population, overtaking the previously largest generation, the Baby Boomers. Despite the stereotypes that you may hear about my generation and its views on the First Amendment, there are studies showing that we feel very strongly about protecting religious liberty.

According to a survey performed by marketing development organization Amicus Communications, 95% of millennials believe that religious freedom is important. However, many of these millennials also think that our religious freedom is worse off today than it was just 10 years ago.

What’s more, a Barna Group study also found that 56% of Christian millennials are “very concerned” about the future of religious freedom, and that those individuals are far more likely to support and join an organization that protects religious liberty. David Kinnaman, president of Barna Group, explained, “Younger Christians are recognizing the implications for their future—what perhaps once felt like something that would only affect clergy and Christian leaders, now feels like it could have a bearing on life for ordinary citizens.”

Kinnaman makes a great point, noting that millennials see the importance of religious freedom beyond the walls of a church or a synagogue. They are seeing it in the larger context of protecting everyone’s right to live according to their convictions and conscience.

In other words, protecting the first freedom of people of faith is the basis on which we can protect the freedoms for all Americans, religious or not. Without our first freedom, all others tumble.

Like me, there are many millennials who see the threat to our religious freedom, and they are joining First Liberty Institute on the frontlines. This summer I am blessed to intern alongside 17 other passionate and driven millennials—all who will “run to the sound of the guns” in defense of our first freedom. I want to take a moment to introduce a few of them to you.

Anastasia Frane Anastasia Frane

Anastasia Frane attended Baylor University for undergraduate and is currently a rising third year student at Harvard Law School. She came to First Liberty because she’s passionate about defending religious freedom. At Harvard, she had the privilege of putting together two amicus briefs for the U.S. Supreme Court on religious freedom issues with other law students, an experience she enjoyed immensely.

Stephanie Mason Stephanie Mason

Stephanie Mason is a rising second year student at Southern Methodist University School of Law in Dallas. She came to First Liberty Institute with a passion for research, writing, religious freedom and excellence in everything she does. She originally discovered the firm at an internship at Focus on the Family the summer before her senior year of college at William and Mary. This summer, she hopes to contribute to the mission in a meaningful way and learn more about the First Amendment in the process.

Ben Frizzell Ben Frizzell

Ben Frizzell is a rising third-year student at Oklahoma City University School of Law. He graduated summa cum laude from Oklahoma State University with a B.S. in Political Science. He’s the oldest of six kids—who all happened to be in college at the same time. He was also recently commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps. He’s thankful for the opportunity to be here at First Liberty Institute learning how to protect our first freedom.

Sydney Swift Sydney Swift

Sydney Swift will be a senior at Baylor University in the fall. She is currently pursuing a degree in Public Relations with a minor in Religion, and will be taking the LSAT in September in hopes of going to law school. This summer, she’s a part of First Liberty Institute’s marketing team. She was drawn to work with the firm because of the work we do and the people we help.

Become a First Liberty Institute Fellow. This Fall we’ll head to D.C. for an all-expenses paid leadership program where you’ll be equipped to join the fight for Religious Liberty.

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