Written by Don Byrd

The United Nations has voted to set aside August 22 as the International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief. The resolution “strongly comdemn[s]” acts of violence and terrorism “targeting individuals, including persons belonging to religious minorities, on the basis of or in the name of religion or belief…” It also “recognizes that protecting against hate crimes and encouraging interfaith efforts and education “important first steps in combating incidents of intolerance, discrimination and violence.”

Ethics Daily’s report on the resolution includes remarks from Baptist leaders, including the BJC’s Amanda Tyler:

“Attacks based on religion are attacks on religious freedom,” said Amanda Tyler, executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty. “For many of our neighbors at home and abroad, more than their freedom to worship is at stake; their very existence is being threatened based solely on their faith.”

“Efforts like this ‘International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief’ are important signs of solidarity,” she added. “We all have a role to play as upstanders, calling out religious bigotry and denouncing violence based on religion whenever we see it.”

This resolution comes at an important time – perhaps even a crossroads – in international religious freedom. As I have posted recently, the state of religious liberty for religious minorities in many parts of the world appears to be declining. Governments that value freedom need to speak with one voice, and strongly, affirming their commitment to religious liberty for all.