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Religious belief or ideology does not provide the right to discriminate or harm others.

February 21, 2024

Human Rights

Universal Human Rights Apply to All People, Faiths, and Nations

Over the course of world history, and in some cases even today, faith is used as a pretext for violence or discrimination. Such pretexts have no merit and should be firmly repudiated by all faiths, organizations, and individuals of conscience.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which United Nations members are signatory and which is “generally agreed to be the foundation of international human rights law,” declares:

  • “Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.” United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 2

The U.S. Supreme Court has consistently held that religious freedom does not permit harm against others.  United Nations special rapporteur on religion and belief Ahmeed Shaheed noted that “the right to freedom of religion protects individuals and not religions as such.” He stated that there is no basis for the claim that “religious beliefs can be invoked as a legitimate ‘justification’ for violence or discrimination,” and that all states must outlaw such conduct.


1. London, Emily, and Maggie Siddiqi. "Religious Liberty Should Do No Harm."  American Progress, April 11, 2019.

2. Scaffidi, Elizabeth. "Use of religious beliefs to justify rights violations must be outlawed, says UN expert." UN News, March 2, 2020.

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