Speak Up

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Speak Up! is a new initiative that comes as a response to Pope Francis’ numerous calls to not remain “silent and inactive” in the face of the “unacceptable crime” of religious persecution. Through this campus initiative, we invite our Notre Dame student community to respond to the Pontiff’s call by being vocal and active about the universal human right to freedom of religion and belief. The goal behind this initiative is to raise awareness of those whose rights to freedom of religion and belief are being brutally repressed. How? By coming together as a community to speak of their suffering, stand in solidarity with them, and advocate on their behalf. We invite ND students to create effective and creative communication tools that will raise awareness and call for solidarity with one or more religious community that suffers from religious persecution.

Submissions should illustrate the relevance of religious freedom as a fundamental human right and the importance of defending it. Submission should be tied to current cases of systematic and violent religious persecution against one or more religious community. We envision these submissions as answering a very pressing question: What can we do to ensure that those struggling for their religious freedom are not forgotten?

Students are invited to submit a piece of work in their choice of medium. Since the main goal is awareness, the entry should be something that people are eager to share within their social circles. Entries could be traditional or nontraditional. For example, they could consist of video or audio public service announcements (PSAs) of 30-60 seconds; print materials (such as flyers, handbills, banners, posters, fotonovelas, etc.); promotional materials (such as t-shirts, stickers, bags, posters, etc.); and artistic representations (such as mixed media art, songs, sculptures, poems, puppets etc.). Let your creativity have no limits!


What qualifies as religious persecution for this initiative?

We understand religious persecution for Speak Up! as the use of violent methods to prohibit or restrict religious freedom. Such methods can include detention, interrogation, forced labor, imprisonment, beating, torture, “disappearance”, forced flight from homes, enslavement, rape, murder, execution, attacks on and destruction of places of worship, or credible threats to carry out such actions. While we do realize that religious restrictions of different levels of intensity occur in most countries and against a variety of religious groups, our focus here is on systematic violent persecution.


This campus challenge targets ND students, including graduates and undergraduates.  The deadline to submit your entry is October 26, 2015 at noon. Results will be announced by October 29, 2015.

All entries must be accompanied by: (1) an information sheet with the name, address, email, phone, college, status (undergraduate or graduate) and major; (2) a short bio; (3) a description of the submitted material (300 words maximum) explaining how the entry responds to the challenge; and (4) a title for the entry.

A committee comprising 5 ND faculty and staff members will judge the entries. A first selection will be made to choose the entries that will be displayed first at O’Shaughnessy’s Great Hall and then at the Pontifical Urban University in Rome, during the three-day Under Caesar’s Sword international conference that will take place from December 10-12, 2015. Read more about the conference here. A second selection will determine which students will get to travel to Rome to attend the conference and present their work. We will fully provide for transportation to and accommodation in Rome. In Rome, sponsored students will be invited to present their work and encouraged to learn from and engage with conference participants.

Speak Up! is made possible through the generous support of the Nanovic Institute for European Studies, and is co-sponsored by The Center for Civil and Human Rights.

Questions? Please contact Zahra Vieneuve by email zvieneuv@nd.edu or phone 574.631.7233