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UN Report: Penalties for Conversion Remain a Serious Threat to Liberty E-mail
Written by Don Byrd   
Friday, 09 November 2012

Christianity Today links to a report by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on religious freedom highlighting patterns of abuse with respect to religious conversion around the world. 

“The right of conversion and the right not to be forced to convert or reconvert belong to the internal dimension of a person’s religious or belief-related conviction, which is unconditionally protected under international human rights law,” said Mr. Bielefeldt presenting his report to the UN General Assembly.
“In some States, converts may also face criminal prosecution, at times even including the death penalty, for such offences as ‘apostasy,’ ‘heresy,’ ‘blasphemy’ or ‘insult’ in respect of a religion or the country’s dominant tradition and values.”

“While some members of religious or belief minorities experience pressure to join a religion or belief deemed more ‘acceptable’ in society, converts are often exposed to pressure to reconverting to their previous religion. Such pressure can be undertaken both by Government agencies and by non-State actors, including by directly linking humanitarian aid to an expectation of conversion.”

The right to soul freedom is fundamental. One of the reasons I'm proud to be Baptist is its traditional emphasis on conscience over creed. Without the freedom to choose what we believe, the promise of religious liberty is merely lip service. Countries cannot claim on the one hand to respect religious freedom, and on the other hand to condone or impose penalties for conversion.

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