Katrina Bradford was chosen by her ability to com­mu­nicate to mil­lennial. Katerina Bradford | Courtesy

America’s self-pro­claimed largest reli­gious freedom legal orga­ni­zation, the First Liberty Institute, chose sophomore Katarina Bradford’s essay as its model for teaching mil­len­nials about reli­gious freedom.

Bradford will intern for the First Liberty Institute during the summer in Plano, Texas, take part in

social media out­reach to mil­len­nials, and will travel to dif­ferent uni­ver­sities to discuss her work.

As one of six stu­dents selected from across the country to par­tic­ipate in a First Liberty Fel­lowship, Bradford attended a con­ference in Wash­ington, D.C., in November. The stu­dents then wrote research papers about how to under­stand mil­lennial culture and beliefs. The institute chose Bradford’s from the six to use as a model for its out­reach.

“Bradford’s project was a good insight into reaching mil­len­nials more strate­gi­cally,” said Stephanie Reyes, director of program strategy for the First Liberty Fel­lowship. “We were really fas­ci­nated by her input.”

Bradford, a phi­losophy and German major, said all the par­tic­i­pants in the fel­lowship studied pol­itics except her, which allowed her to provide a unique, philo­sophical look at mil­len­nials and their under­standing of reli­gious liberty.

“One of the biggest themes I came across in my research is that the mil­lennial gen­er­ation has lost its trust in insti­tu­tions,” Bradford said.

She said this included cor­po­ra­tions, gov­ern­ments, and churches. Her research found that mil­len­nials want to express their beliefs as indi­viduals sep­arate from insti­tu­tions. This is where Bradford said there was an oppor­tunity to con­vince mil­len­nials about the impor­tance of reli­gious freedom.

“If the gov­ernment pro­hibits the church from exer­cising its religion, then that poses a fun­da­mental threat to the mil­lennial culture, as well,” Bradford said. “They don’t want to lose their freedom of expression or indi­vid­u­ality.”

Bradford said she sug­gested appeals to the “selfish nature” of mil­len­nials — to show them why reli­gious liberty is good for them, even if they are not reli­gious. She also said mil­len­nials need anec­dotal stories rather than policy essays to per­suade them.

Although Bradford wrote this research essay by herself, she said Pro­fessor of Phi­losophy Nathan Schlueter influ­enced her ideas.

Schlueter said Bradford is a great indi­vidual to carry this message of reli­gious liberty to mil­len­nials because of her “humility, which is not squishy, and firmness of prin­ciple, which is not offensive.”

Bradford will attend a con­ference at Pep­perdine Uni­versity on March 17 – 18 to discuss her ideas about com­mu­ni­cating reli­gious liberty.