In 1962, Diane Knippers first learned the value of freedom when, as the daughter of a U.S. Navy chaplain at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, she went to school with young people who were willing to swim shark-infested waters to gain their liberty.

Later, Knippers attended high school in Iceland, where she learned about the enormous impact U.S. policy decisions have on people around the globe. Even something as seemingly minor as a fishing treaty can wreak havoc on an economy such as Iceland’s.

In 1992, Knippers combines her passion for freedom with the belief that Americans can have a global impact. As acting director of the Washington, D.C.—based Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD’s president, Kent Hill, is currently in Moscow running the institute’s Christian Resource and Study Center), Knippers oversees the organization’s work in encouraging concern for human rights, especially religious freedom, in U.S. denominations. Her special interest is monitoring and raising awareness of the global spread of Islam as a threat to religious freedom.

Knippers’s work has influenced not only church leaders and human-rights activists, but has inspired her painter husband as well. Through his wife’s work, Ed Knippers (CT, Mar. 6, 1987, p. 63) became aware of the moving stories of dissident Cuban poet Armando Valladares and dissident Russian poet Irina Ratushinskaya (CT, Dec. 15, 1989, p. 26). Known for his large paintings (rarely measuring less than four by eight feet), Ed Knippers created a suite of 16 small linocuts illustrating the sufferings of those he calls “prisoner-saints.” Three of these prints appear in the CT Institute on human rights, beginning on page 29, along with essays by Diane Knippers and other Christian human-rights experts. ...

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