Human Rights and Religious Freedom
Why is religious freedom so important
Religious freedom is a fundamental human right. Religious freedom benefits everyone - it creates conditions for peace, democratisation, development and other human rights. Unfortunately there are increasing instances in several parts of the world where violations of this most basic human right occur.
For the Church promoting and protecting religious freedom is not a matter of self-interest. A lack of religious freedom creates socio-economic discrimination. It reduces citizens' ability to come together and become agents for peaceful change. This can fuel intercommual tension and extremism.
Where religious freedom is denied human development and
flourishing is impaired. For the Church promoting and defending
religious freedom is an important element in the process of
democratisation and poverty reduction.
How the Church works to strengthen and protect
The Church works proactively to ensure the importance of religious freedom is not overlooked or forgotten in foreign policy and development cooperation. It does this by constructive dialogue with the British government and the EU institutions. Internationally, the Church works with and through the Office of the Anglican Observer to the United Nations.
As part of a wider Communion of Churches, the Church of England is alert to those instances where religious freedom is infringed. Mission and development agencies try where possible to provide faithful support to those who find this fundamental freedom under stress. This involves providing both pastoral support and also challenging those unjust structures of society that threaten this most basic of human rights.
These same agencies also provide a wide range of resources
to help parishes and dioceses here in the UK to engage prayerfully
with this matter. These resources usefully complement the first
hand stories and testimonies that emerge through the
companion links that twin dioceses here in the UK with
dioceses and provinces overseas.