International Religious Freedom

18/02/2016 1:16 pm

Religious freedom is a fundamental human right and value of the Church, for people of all faiths as well as those of none at all. The Church works to protect and strengthen religious freedom throughout the world, by providing a strong voice in civil society for the oppressed and the vulnerable.

Refugees in Erbil, Redemptorists News, cssr.news

“In a world where various forms of modern tyranny seek to suppress religious freedom, [or try to reduce it to a subculture without right to a voice in the public square, or to use religion as a pretext for hatred and brutality,] it is imperative that the followers of the various religions join their voices in calling for peace, tolerance and respect for the dignity and rights of others.”

Pope Francis speaking on religious freedom, Philadelphia, USA, September 2015.

Middle East

The violence and upheaval in the Middle East has left religious minorities vulnerable to persecution and displacement. After visiting Iraqi Kurdistan, Cardinal Nichols strongly encouraged world leaders to think of religious life, and especially local Christians in the area "as a major part of a solution that we have to fashion" to rebuild "a stable, balanced society in that region". The local churches in Kurdistan, in an effort spearheaded by the Archbishop of Erbil, provide all those fleeing violence with vital aid and shelter, regardless of religion or ethnicity.

Bishop Declan Lang has written about the importance of taking practical steps to defeat Daesh, whether or not there is formal recognition genocide in the region.

The Bishops’ Conference supports the work of Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) to promote religious freedom for Christians across the world, but particularly in the Middle East at this time.


Recognising the dignity of every human being, the Bishops’ Conference is also working hard to raise awareness of the persecution of Rohingya Muslims by extremist Buddhist nationalists in Burma. We support the work of the Church in Burma by raising issues of human rights violations and religiously-motivated persecutions with MPs and peers.

To find out more, follow the link below to read a statement by Burmese Cardinal Charles Bo on the treatment of the Rohingya people:



Religious freedom applies equally to atheists as to people of faith. The Bishops’ Conference stands in solidarity with the Church in Bangladesh in condemning the recent murders of Bangladeshi atheist bloggers and the minimal response of the Bangladeshi government to the attacks.


Bishop Declan Lang has written on the persecution of atheists. Read it here.



MP Mike Kane asked the Foreign and Commonwealth Office what recent steps they have taken to promote the abolition of the death penalty across the Commonwealth.  

MP Margaret Ritchie asked the Foreign and Commonwealth Office how many attacks on Christian places of worship in Israel the British Embassy in Israel has recorded in each of the last three years.

MP Valerie Vaz spoke recently on the elections in Burma in an adjournment debate in the House of Commons.

MP Anne McLaughlin asked the Department for International Development Minister what steps are being to protect and support Yazidi women and children rescued from Daesh territory, now living in refugee camps near the Syrian border.