In the News: IHEU Corrects Vatican About Freedom From Religion

Actually, ‘freedom from religion’ is a human right, IHEU tells Vatican at the UN, Elizabeth O’Casey, IHEU, 2018-03-09

Humanists at the UN have today strongly rejected claims from the Vatican delegation that ‘freedom from religion’ is not a human right.

In its first statement to the 37th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council this afternoon, the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) was responding to comments made last Friday by the Vatican delegation. During a discussion (video) of the latest report of the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, the Vatican representative, Ivan Jurkovic, had disputed that ‘freedom from religion’ is covered by international law, saying that “Of the utmost concern, the use of the term freedom from religion, which is not contemplated in the international instruments, reveals a patronising idea of religion, going beyond the mandate of the special rapporteur.”

Delivering IHEU’s response today, IHEU Director of Advocacy, Elizabeth O’Casey, corrected the Vatican (known as Holy See in international fora), listing the established rights which constitute freedom from religion, and highlighted why freedom from religion is so necessary for those professing no religious beliefs around the world.

By rejecting the concept of freedom FROM religion, the Vatican shows that it has no respect whatsoever for the freedom of conscience of anyone. It is as if the Vatican were competing with governments of Muslim-majority countries which criminalize apostasy (i.e. leaving one’s religion), sometimes even punishing it with the death penalty, to see who can be the greatest destroyer of liberty. This illustrates that keeping religion out of politics—in this case, making sure that the Vatican and the Catholic Church keep their noses out of government—is so essential for human rights to be respected.

Bravo to the IHEU for reprimanding the Vatican and for asserting the importance of freedom FROM religion.

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