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By Meghan Grizzle Fischer

In 1981, the United Nations General Assembly passed the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief. The Declaration is a detailed call for United Nations (UN) Member States to protect and promote freedom of religion, and its preamble makes a strong case for why freedom of religion is essential: its disregard has led to “wars and great suffering to mankind”; to the person who has religion or belief, it is fundamental to “his conception of life”; it is necessary for “understanding, tolerance and respect”; and it “contribute[s] to the attainment of the goals of world peace, social justice and friendship among peoples.”