By Tony Perkins
There’s plenty to dislike about the United Nations, but one thing the world’s leaders can all agree on is the importance of religious liberty. While Christians run for their lives in the Middle East and Africa — or worse, suffer gruesome, torturous deaths — dozens of countries are vowing to stand and fight for their freedom. At last Friday’s U.N. Council for Human Rights, a whopping 53 members of the U.N. submitted a “Joint Statement Supporting the Human Rights of Christians and Other Communities” declaration to the Geneva gathering.
The U.S., Russia, Western European nations, the Pope, Lebanon, Israel, and others linked arms in a key showing of support for the “deeply-rooted historical presence of all ethnic and religious communities in the Middle East. Here world religions appeared, including Christianity.” Although the statement isn’t earth-shattering, it is timely.
“We witness a situation where violence, religious and ethnic hatred, fundamentalist radicalism, extremism, intolerance, exclusion and destruction of the social fabric of whole societies and communities are becoming the features of a non-viable political and social model… Therefore,” the 53 write, “we ask all States to reaffirm their commitment to respect the rights of everyone, in particular the right to freedom of religion, which is enshrined in the fundamental international human rights instruments.”
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Unlike the Obama administration, which for months refused to acknowledge the existential threat to Christians, even the international community holds out the right — not just to have faith, but practice it. Although the letter doesn’t get into specifics, the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights does. “(E)veryone,” the legally-binding agreement makes clear, “shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.”
These nations agree that people don’t just have the right to be a Christian — they have the right to live as one too. We applaud these leaders for speaking with one voice on an issue near and dear to the United States. As Americans, there is no cause more critical, no ideal more sacred.
Tony Perkins is president of the Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council. He is a former member of the Louisiana legislature where he served for eight years, and he is recognized as a legislative pioneer for authoring measures like the nation’s first Covenant Marriage law.
(Via FRC’s Washington Update. Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.)
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