Uighurs take part in a protest against China. Up to one million Uighur Muslims are being detained in the western Xinjiang region, where they're said to be undergoing "re-education" programs. Photo credit: Reuters / Murad Sezer

Let Freedom of Religion or Belief Ring

As millions of Americans celebrate July 4th, let us not forget freedoms that are under attack in other countries. Specifically, Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 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.”

We salute these organizations that are championing fresh approaches and effectively defending and advocating for freedom of religion and belief around the world.

The Bush Institute has published the Freedom Collection of videos that send a message to dissidents, underground preachers and political prisoners around the world: we hear your voice, as you stand for your freedom, free people will stand with you.

21Wilberforce’s Center for Religious Freedom trains and equips emerging leaders in the defense and promotion of international religious freedom.

The Defending Freedoms Project, launched in December 2012 by the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, in conjunction with the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom and Amnesty International USA, supports prisoners of conscience around the world.

Freedom Now is a U.S.-based non-profit, non-governmental, and non-partisan organization that works to free individual prisoners of conscience through legal, political and public relations advocacy efforts.

The Freedom of Religion or Belief Learning Platform provides resources to assist individuals, communities and decision-makers to learn of, reflect upon and promote freedom of religion or belief for all.

The Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom works with a worldwide network of religious freedom experts to provide defenses against religious persecution and oppression.

The International Religious Freedom Roundtable is a convener of NGOs and individuals from any and no faith that work to stem the rising tide of restrictions on freedom of religion or belief.

The Religious Freedom and Business Foundation educates the global business community on how religious freedom is good for business, encouraging it to join forces with government and non-governmental organizations to promote respect for freedom of religion or belief (FoRB).

The Religious Freedom Institute works to secure religious freedom for everyone, everywhere.

USCIRF’s Religious Prisoners of Conscience Project highlights individuals imprisoned for exercising their freedom of religion or belief, as well as the dedicated advocacy of USCIRF Commissioners working for their release.

The international religious freedom (IRF) movement in this country influenced a long line of faith-based and human rights international activism, affecting freedom for millions globally. Right now the IRF movement faces enormous challenges. Yet many are stepping forward to accept those challenges because they understand that freedom of religion or belief is a foundational human right that is key to global security and stability.

Each of us has a role to play.

Take Action

  1. Read this fascinating history of the U.S. International Religious Freedom Act
  2. Encourage your congressman/congresswoman to adopt a Prisoner of Conscience
  3. Watch this brief video