08 December 2010

Open Doors global petition is presented at the United Nations: 428,856 people from over 70 countries urge UN to vote YES to religious liberty and NO to the Defamation of Religions Resolution

On Monday this week representatives of Open Doors delivered a petition to the United Nations in New York. It was received by Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Mr Ivan Simonovic.

It is anticipated that the United Nations General Assembly will vote on the "Combating Defamation of Religions" resolution in the next few days: the Open Doors FREE TO BELIEVE/RIGHT TO BELIEVE campaign has encouraged 428,856 people from over 70 different countries to urge the national delegations at the United Nations to say YES to Religious Liberty and vote NO on this resolution.

Eddie Lyle, CEO of Open Doors UK & Ireland, said "It has been a privilege to be here at the United Nations in New York to represent this unprecedented global expression of support for our persecuted brothers and sisters and the protection of their right to believe. We are encouraged at the positive reception we have been given by Mr Simonovic, and the indication he gave that our campaign has already played a part in weakening support for this resolution."

Dr Carl Moeller, President of Open Doors USA, said "We have worked together across the world on this campaign because we believe that by raising our voices and praying together we can play a vital part in standing with our brothers and sisters who are denied religious freedom and suffer persecution because of their faith in Christ."

Eddie Lyle added "We want to express our heartfelt thanks to everyone who has signed the FREE TO BELIEVE/RIGHT TO BELIEVE petition. They have been part of a global choir, a chorus of people who've said 'enough is enough, it's now time for change.' Their signatures have already begun to make a difference and they will go on helping us to make a difference for our brothers and sisters who face persecution on a daily basis."

The petition has also been communicated by email to every one of the 192 national delegations, emphasising that "It is vital to protect people from violence, abuse, and discrimination, whether they are Christians, Jews, Muslims or follow any other faith. But that protection must be on the basis of their individual and personal rights as described in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, not on the basis of protection offered to a religion."

The email to the UN national delegations stressed that "This call for a NO vote does not mean that we advocate the defamation of religions or approve in any way of incitement to religious hatred. Our concern is that the human right of religious liberty should be positively and actively protected at all times, regardless of the religious beliefs of the individual.

We believe that this resolution ultimately works against religious liberty because it promotes:

  1. The protection of a religion (essentially an ideology) instead of an individual
  2. The complete conflation of race and religion
  3. The erosion of freedom of expression as a fundamental freedom in favour of protecting the sensibilities of listeners

The petition says: "I believe that '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' (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 18). I am deeply concerned that the Defamation of Religions Resolution has the effect of severely restricting these foundational freedoms and undermines the right to religious liberty. I urge that everything possible is done to ensure that the United Nations rejects this resolution."