Convening 9 April 2015
Conversion, Proselytism and Religious Freedom

Università degli Studi di Milano
Via Festa del Perdono 7 – Milan

9 April 2015
h. 3.00 pm- 6.30 pm, Sala Crociera (Giurisprudenza)

Judaism, Islam and Hinduism

Daniela Milani, Università degli Studi di Milano

Massimo Campanini
, Università degli Studi di Trento
Silvio Ferrari, Università degli Studi di Milano
Domenico Francavilla, Università degli Studi di Torino
Piero Stefani, Facoltà Teologica dell’Italia Settentrionale

7 May  2015
h. 10.30am – 12.30 am, Lecture Room 410

Between religious belonging and freedom of choice

Daniela Milani, Università degli Studi di Milano

Silvio Ferrari, Università degli Studi di Milano
Paolo Naso, Sapienza – Università di Roma

The cohabitation of different faiths within the same social context, as a result of the contemporary migration processes, as well as the current spread of violent forms of religious imposition make the issue of the inter-religious relations an extremely relevant one today. In order to understand these relations it is necessary to deal with some essential aspects of the religions concerned, in particular as far as the meaning of conversion and proselytism within them is concerned. Indeed, these two central elements of religious life determine how the believers consider those individuals and peoples practicing a different faith and which stand they take towards them.

What does being converted mean within Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism and other religious traditions? How are individuals abandoning one of these religions seen by their religious community? And how is a person who converts to another religion seen? How do such understandings affect the law – particularly the acknowledgement of religious freedom – in the countries where these religions are followed by the majority of citizens? Which value does religion bestow on a forced or not sincere conversion?

Many believers of several religions consider witnessing their own faith and proposing its contents and rules to other people as a task God itself have assigned to every human being, a duty that no one can abdicate. Obviously this does not mean that drawing upon violence, lie and direct or indirect forms of pressure as means of spreading religion is allowed. Such practices have been condemned by the European Court of Human Rights in some judgements that have uneasily drawn a line between legitimate and not legitimate forms of proselytism. However, beyond such widely accepted distinctions one may pose a more radical question concerning the expectation inherent to the act of converting someone: Doesn’t this expectation already imply a misrecognition or a lack of respect of the other’s faith? Does proselytism itself really fit with the dialogue among religions and the coexistence of people having different faiths within the same country? Both these questions draw the fundamental issue of religious freedom into play.

Reset-Dialogues on Civilizations and Silvio Ferrari, Professor of Canonical Law at the Università degli Studi di Milano, in cooperation with Laboratorio Culture, Diritti e Istituzioni at the Università degli Studi di Milano and Oasis Foundation have organized a series of seminars dealing with the question of inter-religious relations. During the seminars scholars of several scientific disciplines – among others law, theology, sociology, history of religions – and spokesmen of various religious communities will tackle, according to a comparative approach, the meaning of conversion and proselytism within the different social-religious contexts considered.

The seminars are part of the program of the module of Compared Religions’ Law, held by Prof. Silvio Ferrari at the Università degli Studi di Milano, as well as of the Ph-D-program in Juridical Sciences at the same university.

The venue is the Università degli Studi di Milano, via Festa del Perdono 7. The seminars are open to everyone is interested in a in-depth analysis of inter-religious relations in the contemporary world. The languages of the events are both English and Italian.

For further information please contact Alessandro Tira ( or Michele Salonia (

Project Director: Giancarlo Bosetti
Scientific Coordinator: Silvio Ferrari
Scientific Committee: Giancarlo Bosetti, Cristiana Cianitto, Silvio Ferrari, Daniela Milani, Alessandro Tira
Press: Nicola Missaglia (nicola.missaglia @
Project Manager: Michele Salonia