Freedom of Religion or Belief ‘the most basic right of all’

Benedict Rogers and Andrew Copson are joint authors of a blog published by the Huffington Post:

“Freedom of thought, conscience or religion, as set out in Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is the most basic right of all – the right to choose what to believe, to practice your beliefs, to share your beliefs with others in a non-coercive way, and to change your beliefs. It protects the rights of people of all religions, and the right to have no religion. And it is increasingly under threat throughout the world.”

“Until recently, freedom of religion was wrongly perceived as a right for religious people. There was a sense that if you were not religious, Article 18 was not for you. But this is a profoundly incorrect interpretation. It is in all our interests to speak up for the protection and promotion of this basic right, because when it is denied to one group, all are affected. Where Christians are persecuted, minorities from within Islam – Shi’a or Ahmadiyya, for example – also suffer, as do Baha’is. Where Muslims are the prime victims, as in Burma and among the Uighurs in China, Christians and other minorities suffer alongside them. And in many parts of the world, those who choose to exercise their right to not believe, to reject religion, to declare their agnosticism, atheism or humanism, they face discrimination, arrest, imprisonment, torture or even death.”

Read the whole blog