HOME > NEWSROOM > ARTICLES > UN Expert: Respect the Right to Convert

UN Expert: Respect the Right to Convert

A United Nations (UN) independent expert recently highlighted threats to a key religious human right: conversion. Heiner Bielefeldt, the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, declared to the UN General Assembly, “The right of conversion and the right not to be forced to convert or reconvert belong to the internal dimension of a person’s religious or belief-related conviction, which is unconditionally protected under international human rights law.”

The Special Rapporteur faulted governments, as well as non-state actors acting out on “widespread societal prejudices.” For example, he noted:

Many States impose tight legislative or administrative restrictions on communicative outreach activities. Many such restrictions are conceptualised and implemented in a flagrantly discriminatory manner, for instance, in the interest of further strengthening the position of the official religion or dominant religion of the country while further marginalising the situation of minorities. Members of religious communities that have a reputation of being generally engaged in missionary activities may also face societal prejudices that can escalate into paranoia, sometimes even leading to acts of mob violence and killings.

In his accompanying report, Mr. Bielefeldt analyzed the right to convert, the right to not be coerced into conversion, the right to seek the conversion of others without force, and the rights of children and parents in conversion. 

He urged nations to consistently respect this fundamental right protected under Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states, “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”

By Aaron Mercer, Vice President Government Relations

 

Published: November 16, 2012

Latest News

60,000 Shoebox Gifts Airlifted to Children Displaced by ISIS Militants in Northern Iraq

Samaritan’s Purse recently airlifted 60,000 Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts to Northern Iraq, where displaced Iraqi kids have been stripped of their homes and most possessions.

Aaron Shust Partners with Radio Outlets for Holiday Promotions That Help People in Need

Dove-Award winning Aaron Shust is teaming with radio outlets across the country to help make Christmas a little more merry to those in need.

Christian Radio to Give Free College Tuition to Full Time Staff

Positive Alternative Radio (PAR) is providing its employees innovative new benefits that include access to higher education, time off for community service, and financial counseling.

CTVN Announces New Roku Channel

Cornerstone Network (CTVN) is now available on Roku TV and able to stream programming to viewers live and on demand.

Christmas Reflections in Washington

While end-of-year debates on government appropriations, military policy, tax provisions, judicial nominations, and other issues continue their rough road to resolution in this lame-duck session of Congress, Christmas is in the air in the nation’s capital.

FCC Rules Against Church on Closed Captioning

The FCC recently denied a church’s request for a waiver from closed captioning rules, shedding more light on the agency’s approach to determining what may truly be an “economically burdensome” situation.

Senator Promises a Bill Broader than ENDA

Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) announced this week that he intends to introduce legislation next year that will roll the controversial Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) into a broader...

White Paper Issued on Video Policy

Key leaders in the House Energy and Commerce Committee this week released a white paper on video policy as they continue their path toward a review and revamp the Communications Act.

NRB15 Worship Service on Wednesday, February 25, 2015; Open to the Public

The NRB Convention in 2015 will be a Monday-to-Thursday event rather than a Saturday-to-Tuesday event as in years before, but convention participants will still have an opportunity to worship together during the Wednesday evening worship service on February 25, 2015.

NRB to Host Regional Networking Event for Christian Film Pros, Jan. 10

Christian film professionals in the Baltimore, DC, and Richmond region are invited to attend a networking event next month at the NRB headquarters in Manassas, VA.

More News