FEATURED DISCUSSION PANELISTS
Mariam Ibraheem is a Sudanese Christian who was imprisoned for her faith in December 2013 and later sentenced to death. She was born to a Christian mother and a Muslim father, but the Sudanese government considered her a Muslim because of her father. She refused to recant her faith; therefore, they declared her an apostate and imprisoned her along with her 9-month-old son, Martin. While in prison she discovered she was pregnant, and her sentence of torture and execution was postponed until after her daughter was born. Mariam gave birth to her daughter, Maya, in May 2014 chained in a prison cell for her faith.
Mariam’s story gained international attention, and many advocated for her release. Mariam and her children were released soon after Maya’s birth, and they eventually moved to the United States. A living martyr, Mariam received continued international publicity and spoke before the European Union and Pope Francis. She continues to speak publicly about religious freedom issues and on behalf of those who are oppressed globally.
Archbishop Ben Kwashi
Anglican Leader, Global Advocate
Benjamin Kwashi is a Nigerian Anglican Archbishop and global champion for religious freedom. He is married to Gloria, and they have six children, one of whom is also a priest. They have 54 orphans living with them and provide for an additional 400 children where they live in Jos, northern Nigeria.
Kwashi was ordained an Anglican priest in 1982. He went to serve in several rural and urban parishes, and later became Rector of a Theological College. In 1987, his church and vicariate were burned and destroyed during Muslim riots. He became the first bishop of the newly created Anglican Diocese of Jos in1992. In 2008, he was consecrated Archbishop of Jos Province in the Church of Nigeria. In July 2019 Kwashi was elected as General Secretary of the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON).
He published Evangelism and Mission in 2018 and Neither Bomb nor Bullet, co-written with Andrew Boyd, in 2019.
Gayle Manchin is Vice Chair of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). Appointed in April 2018, Gayle has worked alongside her fellow commissioners to advocate for release of Prisoners of Conscience in China, Cuba, Viet Nam, and all around the world. Recently, USCIRF released a strong statement urging governments to release religious Prisoners of Conscience in response to COVID-19.
Gayle is also an educator who has worked at the secondary and collegiate level. From 2005-2010 she served as West Virginia’s First Lady. During that time she served as President of the State Board of Education. She also served for one year as the Cabinet Secretary for the Office of Education and the Arts.
Previously, she directed the AmeriCorps Promise Fellows in West Virginia. She has served as President of the National Association of State Boards of Education and she is a member of the Board of Trustees of The Ford Theatre in Washington, DC.
Judge Ken Starr
Religious Freedom Scholar
Ken Starr works with the Lanier Law firm in an Of Counsel capacity in a range of appellate matters, as well as in other legal issues and causes of special interest. Judge Starr has argued 36 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, including during his service as U.S. Solicitor General. He served as United States Circuit Judge for the District of Columbia Circuit, as Counselor and Chief of Staff to U.S. Attorney General William French Smith, and law clerk to both Chief Justice Warren E. Burger and to Fifth Circuit Judge David W. Dyer. He was appointed to serve as Independent Counsel for five investigations, including Whitewater, from 1994 to 1999.
He served as President and Chancellor of Baylor University and Dean of the Pepperdine School of Law. For 25 years he taught constitutional issues as an adjunct or visiting professor at five law schools, and has served as a partner at two national law firms. He continues to serve on the Boards of Advocates International, the Supreme Court Historical Society, and the Christian Legal Society. Throughout his professional career, Judge Starr has championed the cause of religious liberty and freedom of conscience for all persons.