This afternoon I came across a petition online that I could not help but sign—and I strongly urge you to do the same.
Sometimes we may take for granted that freedom of religion is a fact for everyone in our modern society.
But the truth is that the protection of human rights (including freedom of religion) only becomes a reality if we make it so: if we stand up for our persecuted brothers and sisters in their most desperate times of need.
Now is one of those times.
It seems unbelievable in the 21st century, but the Council of Europe—which represents 47 European nations on matters of human rights among other concerns—is set on April 10 to consider an incredibly backwards piece of legislation that could potentially violate the human rights of millions of Europeans.
The proposed law, based on a report by a French politician named Rudy Salles, is attempting to establish “sect observatories” (translation: “cult-watching groups”) in the Council of Europe’s 47 countries.
His report is called “The Protection of Minors Against Excesses of Sects” and argues without any persuasive evidence whatsoever that anti-religious “sect observatories” should be set up to monitor minority religious groups that allegedly threaten the physical or mental well-being of children.
However, as a number of articles and letters have already shown beyond doubt, experts recognize this legislation for what it really is: a bogus attempt by a French politician with ties to the French anti-cult community to impose French style discrimination and hatred on a European-wide scale.
Probably the most impressive letter voicing outrage over this legislation comes from the International Religious Freedom (IRF) Roundtable. In a letter to the Honorable Anne Brasseur, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of Europe (PACE), the letter reads in part:
“We are a truly multi-faith group of organizations and individuals, representing a high degree of diversity. We agree on very little theologically, but we all agree on the importance of religious freedom for all faiths and none. If PACE adopts this report as drafted, it will have taken a major step backwards in terms of religious tolerance and the rights of religious minorities in the 47 countries in the Council of Europe. The report should be sent back to the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights for further investigation and analysis.”
Some of the dozens of signatories include the European Interreligious Forum for Religious Freedom (France), Central-European Religious Freedom Institute (Hungary), the Gerard Noodt Foundation (Netherlands), Church of Scientology National Affairs Office (United States), Soteria International (Denmark), United Sikhs (United States), as well as leaders in religious communities, academia, law, and other fields—and the list is growing by the day as awareness spreads.
What Salles is trying to do at the Council of Europe reminds me of the earlier similar efforts of the world’s worst totalitarian regimes.
I don’t want to look back five or ten years from now, when “sect observatories” have stripped away and normalized the loss of freedom of religion, and ask myself “Why didn’t I speak up when I had the chance?”
We need to act now before it is too late.
I for one will not sit by and watch Rudy Salles sow the seeds of hatred, prejudice, and religious bigotry toward minority religious groups that have violated no law.
Even a website affiliated with the Council of Europe itself has begun to address this problem and recognizes just how potentially toxic this bill could be.
Join with me in reading and signing this petition to make sure that the Council of Europe hears our voice loud and clear.
Will you join me?
SIGN THE PETITION ONLINE HERE.
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