Religious Freedom

ARTICLE 18

United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948

Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

The First Amendment

The Constitution of the United States of America

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof: or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that NO official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein, If there are ANY circumstances which permit an exception, they do not now occur to us." United States Supreme Court (1943) West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 US 624.

What is Meant by Religious Rights

The Church in each place must be free to define the mission it believes it has received from God. Likewise, individual Christians and other believers must be free to practice their faith in whatever manner they believe necessary, commensurate with their not violating the same freedom of others. In addition, we affirm the understanding of religious freedom embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) and other international covenants. While some actions taken in the name of religious rights may be ambiguous and will have to be addressed on a case-by-case basis, we believe that religious rights include at least the following:

(Reprinted with permission from Freedom of Faith in the ULC Textbook)

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