Freedom of Religion or Belief

It is not enough to tolerate religions or personal convictions or beliefs. We should recognize the power in beliefs and religions.

Yesterday I attended the International Panel of Parliamentarians for Freedom of Religion or Belief (#IPPFoRB) in Berlin.


Tolerance of religions and beliefs is an important human right. Taking action to stop or limit prosecution based on faith is paramount. But I think we can take this one step further. Beyond stopping oppression of faith, passive tolerance of faith or even promotion of a tolerant society, there is recognition of the power of faith.

Religion or belief gives purpose. Purpose gives strength, and with strength can come accomplishments.

Witness the early civilizations, the building of ancient Greece, the Roman Empire, the Mayans and social structures throughout our history. Religions have given purpose, strength and accomplishments to the benefit… and detriment of many. The strength has yielded the foundations for civilizations. It has also brought oppression, even terrorism. In any case, with conviction comes strength.

Religion or Belief -> Purpose -> Strength -> Accomplishment

This we should recognize and help use for the greater good. Faith can be a basis for individual strength and strong societies. Thus faith should be applauded regardless of what the person chooses to believe in.

The diversity of this conference is amazing. More than 100 MPs from more than 60 countries. All major religions are represented. Academia, NGOs and other interested parties attend.

Having attending this conference, I am left with a couple of questions. Firstly:

How can people with directly opposing purposes honestly cooperate for Freedom of Religion or Belief?

I spoke to people at the conference who have the goal of their religion winning at the expense of others.

Answers to this question could serve also to answer how we could make anarchy work in practice.

Another impression from the conference was that several of the attendants insisted that there was absolutely no connection between religion and terrorism. I believe such a refusal to discuss such a connection is both naive and dangerous. It can obfuscate a possible cause of terrorism. The blunt refusal of a discussion is never healthy.

Then there is the question of a battle of two basic human rights. Which takes rank – the freedom of religion and belief or the freedom of speech? What’s your answer to this potential dilemma?