Press Release

Canterbury Medal Gala honoring Senator Orrin G. Hatch Postponed Becket will honor Orrin G. Hatch, champion of conscience, religion, and belief in public life on May 27, 2021

Media Contact

Ryan Colby 202-349-7219

Additional Information

WASHINGTON – As with many long-anticipated celebrations, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced flexibility for Becket’s annual gala. In order to ensure the safety of the event, Becket will postpone its bestowal of religious liberty’s highest honor until Thursday, May 27, 2021.  

Hatch was named Becket’s 2020 Canterbury Medalist for his instrumental role in the passing of fundamental legislation in defense of religious liberty for people of all faiths. He will receive the award in 2021, marked by an extended period of celebration of his legacy that will launch in the fall. The Canterbury Medal recognizes an individual who has demonstrated courage and commitment to defending religious freedom in America and around the world. Senator Hatch’s legacy is marked by civil discourse, principled leadership and unfailing dedication to the defense of religious liberty for all. At a time when our country is experiencing so much unease and unrestthe right to exercise our religious freedom is more important than ever. Becket honors a man who championed this right throughout his career and continues to stand for it as a thought leader encouraging America’s conscience.  

In his 42 years of serviceSenator Hatch became the longestserving Republican and Utahan in U.S. Senate history and earned the reputation as one of the most effective and bipartisan lawmakers of all time. In addition to sponsoring or cosponsoring over 750 bills that have become law, one of his most prized legislative successes is the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) of 1993which was passed by overwhelming majorities in both houses of Congress and signed into law by President Bill Clinton. In 2000, he was the primary author of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), which also passed unanimously in both houses of Congress. 

Outside of public service, Hatch is a faithful member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day SaintsA trained pianist and poetry aficionado, Senator Hatch has composed hundreds of songs for many different artists, and even boasts a holiday albumSenator Hatch continues to advance issues relating to freedom of conscience, religion, and belief through his foundation, the Orrin G. Hatch Foundation.   

Now more than ever, I am proud to lead Becket in honoring the ‘Father of RFRA,’ Senator Orrin G. Hatch,” said Mark Rienzi, president of BecketSenator Hatch’s legacy of championing protections for people of all faiths—and working across partisan lines to do so—has greatly strengthened religious liberty in the United States. We continue to rely on his courage and commitment to freedom for all as we advocate for similar robust support for this important human right at the highest courts in the land  

The Canterbury Medal draws its name from one of history’s most dramatic religious liberty stand-offs, which occurred between Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas à Becket, the law firm’s namesake, and King Henry II of England. The annual Canterbury Gala honors the award recipient in a black-tie event and is attended by the world’s most distinguished religious leaders and religious liberty advocates. 

Past medalists include the late Nobel Peace Laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel; Cuban poet and former political prisoner Armando Valladares; Orthodox rabbi of the oldest Jewish congregation in the U.S.Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik; First Counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day SaintsPresident Dallin H. Oaks; and 62nd Chaplain of the U.S. SenateChaplain Barry C. Black. It is rumored the annual gala will be celebrated in Utah, rather than New York—a fitting tribute and historic opportunity to celebrate Senator Hatch’s great work. 

For more information or to arrange an interview with a Becket attorney, contact Ryan Colby atmedia@becketlaw.orgor 202-349-7219.Interviews can be arranged in English, Chinese, French, German, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.