Press Release

Becket celebrates 30 years of defending religious liberty for all Annual Canterbury Gala to honor three decades of heroic clients and landmark victories

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Ryan Colby 202-349-7219

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WASHINGTON Becket will celebrate 30 years of defending religious liberty for all at its annual Canterbury Gala on May 23 in New York City. This year’s Gala will celebrate Becket’s heroic clients, whose courage has helped lay the foundation for generations of Americans to live out their faith freely. The keynote address will be given by Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik, director of the Zahava and Moshael Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought at Yeshiva University and the rabbi at Congregation Shearith Israel in Manhattan. 

In 1994, founder Kevin “Seamus” Hasson left a top D.C. law firm to start his own practice defending the religious liberty of people of all faiths. He founded Becket, which has grown into the premier nonprofit, public interest religious liberty law firm in the U.S. and has been called “God’s ACLU.” Over the past three decades, Becket has secured eleven Supreme Court victories and hundreds of victories in the lower courts. This year’s Gala will honor the individuals who made those achievements possible, including the Little Sisters of the Poor, a Catholic order of nuns who serve the elderly poor; Agudath Israel of America, a historic Orthodox Jewish advocacy organization; Sikh Army Major Simmer Singh; and Lipan Apache feather dancer Pastor Robert Soto. Because of the bravery of these clients and many others, America has become a freer nation for people of all faiths. 

“For three decades, Becket has been proud to defend the religious freedom for all faiths,” said Mark Rienzi, president and CEO of Becket. “True freedom includes not merely private worship or belief, but also the right to live out those religious beliefs in daily life.” 

The Canterbury Gala draws its name from one of history’s most dramatic religious liberty stand-offs, when Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas à Becket steadfastly refused to allow King Henry II to interfere in the affairs of the Church. As a result, he was killed by the King’s knights for defending the principles of religious liberty. Becket traditionally awards the Canterbury Medal at the Gala to an individual who has demonstrated courage and commitment to defending religious freedom in America and around the globe (read about past medalists here). 

“Like Henry II before them, some government officials today try to use their power to silence religious beliefs they find troublesome or truths they find inconvenient,” said Rienzi. “But religion and religious liberty will not be silenced—and neither will Becket.”