Winter 2010: The Right to Freedom of Religion or Belief

Freedom of Religion

The basis for human rights — respect for human life and human dignity — can be found in most religions and philosophies. For example, we may be familiar with the following common phrases that arise out of different belief systems: 

“Treat others as you would yourself be treated.” — Hinduism

“What you yourself hate do to no man.” — Judaism

“Hurt not others with that which pains you.” — Buddhism

“Do unto all men as you would wish to have done.” — Islam

“Live in harmony, for we are all related.” — Native American

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” — Christianity

When the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was drafted after WWII, these values were a source of inspiration. The UDHR, in many ways, is a reflection of the shared values found in the sacred texts and authoritative teachings of the religions and spiritual traditions of the world. Religious leaders and teachers play a significant role in explaining and defending human rights within their communities. Part of their role includes transmitting the importance of mutual understanding among people and groups of different beliefs. It is important that children learn from an early age about different faiths and to respect those who have different beliefs. The Convention on the Rights of the Child emphasizes this point: “Children have the right to know about their own cultural identity but also about cultures and civilizations different from their own.”  This edition of Rights Sites News is dedicated to the fundamental right of every human being to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion