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The Church in each place must be free to define the mission it believes it has received from God. Likewise, individual Christians and other believers must be free to practice their faith in whatever manner they believe necessary, commensurate with their not violating the same freedom of others. In addition, we affirm the understanding of religious freedom embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) and other international covenants. While some actions taken in the name of religious rights may be ambiguous and will have to be addressed on a case-by-case basis, we believe that religious rights include at least the following:

  • Every person has the right to determine his or her own faith and creed according to conscience.
  • Every person has the right to the privacy of his belief, to express his religious beliefs in worship, teaching, and practice, and to proclaim the implications of his beliefs for relationships in a social or political community.
  • Every person has the right to associate with others and to organize with them for religious purposes.
  • Every religious organization, formed or maintained by action in accordance with the rights of individual persons, has the right to determine its policies and practices for the accomplishment of its chosen purposes, which implies the right:
    • to assemble for unhindered private or public worship
    • to formulate its own creed
    • to have an adequate ministry
    • to determine its conditions of membership
    • to give religious instruction to its youth, including preparation for ministry
    • to preach its message publicly
    • to receive into its membership those who desire to join it
    • to carry on social services and to engage in missionary activity both at home and abroad
    • to organize local congregations
    • to publish and circulate religious literature
    • to control the means necessary to its mission and to secure support for its work at home and abroad
    • to cooperate and to unite with other believers at home and abroad
    • to use the language of the people in worship and in religious instruction
    • to determine freely the qualifications for professional leadership of religious communities, freely naming their religious leaders at all levels and designating their work assignments.

(Reprinted with permission from Freedom of Faith)



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