Why is religious freedom generally important?

​​​​Freedom-of-Religion

1. Religious Freedom provides a foundation for other freedoms


Religious freedom impacts "a country's security and its economic and political progress."

"And because the impact of religious freedom extends beyond the realm of religion and has ramifications for a country's security and its economic and political progress, more students and practitioners of foreign policy need to focus more time and attention on it." 


Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, July 30, 2012 Human Rights First, "How to Promote International Religious Freedom: Blueprint for the Next Administration," Dec. 2012.

http://www.humanrightsfirst.org/wp-content/uploads/pdf/blueprints2012/HRF_Religious_Freedom_blueprint.pdf

"Religious freedom is an indicator of free societies"

"Religious freedom is not only about freedom of religion; it is the cornerstone of freedom of expression and assembly, which are essential for secure and thriving societies." 


Human Rights First, "How to Promote International Religious Freedom: Blueprint for the Next Administration," Dec. 2012. http://www.humanrightsfirst.org/wp-content/uploads/pdf/blueprints2012/HRF_Religious_Freedom_blueprint.pdf


"We know from empirical data that religious freedom is an indicator of free societies with accountable governments and thriving civil societies. We also know the converse: denying religious freedom increases conflict and hostility, leads to restrictions on civil and political rights, hinders democracy and stability, and breeds violent extremism." 


Human Rights First, "How to Promote International Religious Freedom: Blueprint for the Next Administration," Dec. 2012. http://www.humanrightsfirst.org/wp-content/uploads/pdf/blueprints2012/HRF_Religious_Freedom_blueprint.pdf

When religious freedom is not protected, other freedoms often go unprotected.

"Unfortunately, there are many examples of exclusion of people from the enjoyment of freedom of religion or belief. In some countries recognition of religious practice is by definition limited to a particular list of religions, with the result that members of other religions or beliefs face problems, for instance when applying for official documents." 


"Moreover, those who have exercised their right to convert to another religion or belief are not only confronted with negative reactions from society at large; in some countries they are also exposed to criminal prosecution. Further, as a result of a conversion, marriages have been nullified against the will of the concerned couple and persons have been excluded from the right to inheritance." 

Heiner Bieledfeldt, "Limitations on Religious Freedom have 'Chilling Effect'", New Europe Online, 11/15/2010, http://www.neurope.eu/article/limitations-religions-freedom-have-chilling-effect