Religious freedom is not an issue that shows up on the grid of the average Canadian. In fact, when you mention it to someone, you typically get a range of responses. Some people express a genuine interest, but most people’s eyes slowly glaze over like you told them you wanted to discuss the significance of protein values in wheat. Others stare back at you blankly as their mind races to try and determine how this could possibly be relevant to anything.
But while most may not realize it, religious freedom is extremely relevant because it is an extension of three foundational rights: Freedom of conscience, freedom of speech and freedom of association. History has shown us that religious freedom and democratic freedom are inseparable, and that a decline in one will inevitably result in a decline of the other.
Religious freedom is usually measured by considering two factors: Social hostility involving religion, and government restrictions on religion. According to a January 2014 report by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life, the share of countries with a high or very high level of social hostilities involving religion reached a six-year peak in 2012. The report noted that, “religious hostilities increased in every major region of the world except the Americas.”
Government restrictions on religion also remain high or very high in about three-in-ten countries in the world. 76 percent of the world’s population currently live in countries which are experiencing high or very high restrictions on religion. Only 1 percent live in countries where these hostilities are decreasing.
We can no longer allow religious intolerance to overcome human rights and freedom of religion. As an MP I have an obligation and moral responsibility to stand up for those who are unable to do so. People everywhere should possess the right to worship without being attacked, tortured, or taunted.
RELIGIOUS FREEDOM RESOURCES