Global Charter upholds religious freedom

A new Global Charter has been issued by academics and activists to uphold the right to freedom of thought, conscience and belief enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The drafting of the Global Charter of Conscience was overseen by English author and critic, Dr Os Guinness, and German sociologist, Dr Thomas Schirrmacher.

They hope that the document will bring religious tolerance back to the centre of public debate and safeguard the freedom of future generations to engage in public life.

The document calls for a public square that maximises freedom for all and asks people to have respect for those with differing views.

In one section, it appeals to religious believers and secularists to “acknowledge the excesses and at times evils of their respective positions, and commit themselves to an equal regard for the rights of all who differ from them in their ultimate beliefs”.

“In sum, the Global Charter of Conscience is a response to the crucial and unavoidable challenge of living with our deepest differences,” the charter states.

“Only by the wise and courageous application of these affirmations can humanity turn the danger of the differences between ultimate beliefs into a dignity of difference that will help make the world safer for diversity.”

The document was launched last week at the European Parliament in Brussels and is supported by the European Evangelical Alliance.

Dr Heiner Bielefeldt, United Nations special rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, commended the charter.

“This is a powerful document,” he said.

“It has enormous potential to inspire practical commitment and to contribute to a better understanding of human rights in general.”

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