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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.”

Should religious freedom be protected in times of crisis?

“I support freedom of religious belief as a basic human right that deserves the highest level of protection.

I stand up against worship bans which are illiberal and non-democratic. Blanket bans on public worship are incompatible with the international human right to the communal exercise of religious freedom. Fundamental freedoms apply to all, and they must be protected rather than weakened in times of crisis.”