Archbishop and Professor Thomas Paul Schirrmacher, Dr. theol., Dr. phil., PhD, ThD, DD, DHL (born 1960) is Secretary General of the World Evangelical Alliance, which connects Protestant churches belonging to 143 National Evangelical Alliances with a total of 600 million members.
Before becoming Secretary General, Schirrmacher served WEA in various leadership roles over the last two decades, including being the Associate Secretary General for Theological Concerns and Intrafaith and Interfaith Relations and the Director of the International Institute for Religious Freedom (Bonn, Cape Town, Toronto, Colombo, Brasilia), a global research network in supporting religious freedom and opposing the persecution of Christians and other religions or worldviews.
Schirrmacher holds the honorary positions of President of the International Council of the International Society for Human Rights (Frankfurt) and of Co-President of Religions for Peace (New York),
Schirrmacher has been ordained and consecrated in the Anglican tradition and is Archbishop Coadjutor of the Communio Christiana under Archbishop William Mikler, a global independent Anglican community with a Reformed and Charismatic emphasis having historic succession lines from Anglican, Old Catholic, Orthodox and Oriental churches. In this function he works closely with the Communio Messianca, which connects believers and churches from an Oriental background in 75 countries. He has visited and worked with the heads of most leading Christian churches, as well as leaders from the whole Muslim world and other major religions. He has collaborated with the last two Popes, the Ecumenical Patriarch of the Orthodox Churches, and many other global church leaders on behalf of religious freedom. Schirrmacher is known for his lead role in developing the first-ever joint statement by the Vatican, the World Council of Churches, and the World Evangelical Alliance, “Christian Witness in a Multi-Religious World,” published in 2011, a milestone in church history.
Schirrmacher has earned four doctorates—in ecumenical theology (Dr. theol., The Netherlands, 1985), cultural anthropology (PhD, USA, 1989), in ethics (ThD, USA, 1996, and sociology of religion (Dr. phil., Germany, 2007)—and has received three honorary doctorates in the USA and in India.
Since 1986 he taught at many state and private institutions on three continents. He still serves as extraordinary professor of the sociology of religion at the state University of the West in Timisoara (Romania) and lectures human rights and religious freedom at Oxford Universities Regent’s Park College. 1996–2018 he was President of the Martin Bucer European Theological Seminary and Research Institutes (Berlin, Bielefeld, Bonn, Chemnitz, Hamburg, Innsbruck, Istanbul, Izmir, Munich, Pforzheim, Prague, Sao Paulo, Tirana, Zurich), where he taught social ethics and comparative religions.
Schirrmacher has delivered guest lectures at more than 200 universities and institutions around the globe and visits 50 countries per year. He visited most countries of the world and many of their governments and highest religious leaders. He is recognized as one of the leading human rights experts worldwide and frequently testifies before parliaments, high courts, the United Nations and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. He has addressed commissions of the German parliament (Deutscher Bundestag), the British House of Lords, the EU Parliament, the US House of Representatives and the Supreme Court of Brazil. The major German newspaper Die Welt calls him one of the three leading experts on religious freedom globally.
Schirrmacher has authored and edited 102 books, which have been translated into 18 languages. His most recent books include Creation Care (2019); The Quran and the Bible (2019); Suppressed Women (2019); Leadership in Ethical Responsibility (2017); Coffee Breaks with the Pope (2016/2020); Corruption (2016); Missio Dei (2016); Human Rights (2015); Human Trafficking (2014); Fundamentalism: When Religion Turns Violent (2013); Racism (2012); and The Persecution of Christian Concerns Us All: A Systematic Theology (2011).
Beside his honorary doctorates he received several other honours. In 2002 he was named ‘Man of Achievement’ by the International Biographical Center Oxford for his achievements in the area of the ethics of international development. 2007 he received the Franz-Delitzsch-Award for his dissertation on Hitler and in 2008 the International ProFide Award (Finland) for advocating human rights and religious freedom worldwide, especially for refugees from Iraq. 2016 he received the Order of Merit of the Royal House of Ghassan (Jordan/Lebanon) and 2017 the Stephanus-Price for Religious Freedom by the Stephanus-Foundation (Frankfurt).
He is listed in Marquis’ Who’s Who in the World, Dictionary of International Biography, International Who is Who of Professionals, Kürschners Gelehrten-Kalender, EU-Who is Who, Who is Who in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, 2000 Outstanding People of the 21st Century, 2000 Outstanding Intellectuals of the 21st Century, International Who’s Who in Distance Learning, and other biographical yearbooks. In 2022 he received the Health Media Award (London).