PRESS RELEASE No. 14/25
18 September 2014
Advancing Freedom of Religion or Belief for All
“Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.” 1 Peter 2:16
The Conference of European Churches launched the project of the Summer School on Human Rights devoted to the topic of Freedom of Religion or Belief from 15-18 September in Palermo, Italy. It was hosted by Italian Protestant Federation with academic support by KU Leuven.
The interdisciplinary programme included theological, political, sociological and legal approaches to freedom of religion or belief. During the four days more than 30 participants from 21 European countries and various Christian denominations discussed different perspectives and the relationship of freedom of religion or belief with other fundamental human rights.
It was emphasised that in the domain of advocacy churches should uphold human rights and freedom of religion or belief for all, as well as the interaction between minority and majority churches which should be balanced in the everyday life of the church.
The questions raised included: What is the relationship between theological reflection and the language of international law? Should freedom of religion or belief be defined on the national or international level? Is the Court the best place to defend freedom of religion or belief? How to react to hate speeches? How to strengthen the role of churches in their work with the civil society?
It was mentioned that human rights and human dignity should not be separated, as underlined by the approach of the “Good Samaritan” including: 1) Concern for others’ vulnerability; 2) Policy-making proposals should be practical and 3) How to restore human dignity?.
Participants were updated on the development of current trends such as the role of business, civil society, governments, in the field of promoting interfaith understanding and peace, in order to facilitate social change.
CEC’s work on advocacy on freedom of religion or belief was presented with reference to its work with international institutions, dialogue between churches on human rights’ issues; CEC’s human rights’ library; and training materials produced by CEC.
For more information:
Mag. Elizabeta Kitanović
Executive Secretary for Human Rights and Communication
Church and Society Commission aisbl
Rue Joseph II, 174
Tel. +32 2 234 68 36
Fax +32 2 231 14 13
E-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
The Conference of European Churches (CEC) is a fellowship of some 120 Orthodox, Protestant, Anglican and Old Catholic Churches from all countries of Europe, plus 40 national council of churches and organisations in partnership. CEC was founded in 1959. It has offices in Geneva, Brussels and Strasbourg.www.ceceurope.org
The Church and Society Commission of CEC links member churches, national council of churches and organisations in partnership of CEC with the European Union’s institutions, the Council of Europe, the OSCE, NATO and the UN (on European matters). Its task is to help the churches study church and society questions from a theological and social-ethical perspective, especially those with a European dimension, and to represent common positions of the member churches in their relations with political institutions working in Europe.