In the United States, the month of July is known for its celebration of freedom. One of the most important freedoms involves religion and rights of personal conscience and belief. Many people aren’t aware, however, of the commitment to religious liberty that exist in the international community.
Let me share a few great examples:
“Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.” Universal Declaration, Article 18
“No one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice.” International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, (1975) Article 18-2
“The right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion is inalienable and must be universally enjoyed.” Fourth World Conference on Women, Beijing (1995)
These are always good to remember and share whenever you have an opportunity to defend religious freedom.
In keeping with this month’s celebration of freedom, UFI Board Member, Bill Duncan shares with us some good news on the religious freedom front and provides some important information on what we need to be aware of during the upcoming months.
We also want to make you aware of a special report prepared by our colleagues at Family Research Council: “Hostility to Religion: The Growing Threat to Religious Liberty in the United States.” The often quoted adage: “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty” certainly comes to mind as we each examine our responsibilities in helping to maintain and sustain religious freedom – no matter what country we might live in.
Faithfully for Freedom,
President, United Families International
Good News and Challenges on the Religious Liberty Front
The recent Trinity Lutheran decision involved a Missouri religious preschool that had applied for a grant from the state to upgrade its playground safety equipment. Although the school’s application was rated very highly, the state determined the school was not eligible simply because it was religious. The problem was, the state believed, allowing a religious school to participate in the public program would run counter to a state constitutional amendment prohibiting aid to religion. Missouri’s amendment, along with 39 states who have similar amendments (often referred to as “Blaine Amendments”) were enacted during a time of concern with growing immigration, especially by Catholics, and reflected a bias against institutional churches.
- A new case is emerging in Michigan, where the city of East Lansing is excluding a family farm from participating in a farmer’s market because they declined to use their property, 22 miles away, for same-sex weddings.
- A bill that would drastically limit the ability of religious institutions to ask their employees to abide by their religious teachings has passed one house of the California Legislature.