Integrate religious freedom into school culture or risk a “totalitarian society”

Prince Charles said religious freedom should be embedded in school culture or we could face a “totalitarian society”.

His comments came as he opened the International Ministerial Conference on Freedom of Religion or Belief on Tuesday, which was attended by more than 600 delegates from 100 countries and multilateral organizations around the world.

Among them were Ephraim Mirvis, the Chief Rabbi, the Right Reverend Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Sheikh Abdullah Bin-bayyah, an Islamic scholar, and Archbishop Bashar Warda of the Chaldean Catholic Church in Erbil, Iraq. .

In a pre-recorded video statement, Prince Charles warned that the world is ‘at a crossroads between totalitarian and liberal societies’ as he called for the integration of freedom of religious belief into education, business and social networks.

“We are at the crossroads”

He Prince told the conference, organized by the Foreign Office and held at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Center in London: “The right to freedom of religion or belief is enshrined in Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of human rights.

“We must do everything in our power to ensure that this commitment translates into deeds, not just words. This essential principle must be embedded in government, education, business, media and social media and in all of our communities. Over the next two days, you will move this very important task forward.

“We are at a crossroads, ladies and gentlemen. There is a choice to be made between totalitarian and liberal societies.

“The lights of our collective faith can do much to illuminate the darkness in our world. This is why I am so encouraged by your coming together so you can share your experiences and values ​​and strengthen freedom rights.

More than 80% of the world’s population lives in countries where freedom of religious belief is threatened.

Religion “collateral damage” of the war in Ukraine

Liz Truss, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, also delivered a keynote address at the conference and described freedom of religious belief as “fundamental” and akin to free speech or democracy.

In her speech, the minister criticized “the appalling persecution of the Jewish community over the centuries”, China’s targeting of Uyghur Muslims in the Xinjiang region, the persecution of Christians in Nigeria and the plight of minorities in Afghanistan .

She spoke of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its impact on people’s ability to practice their faith, saying the UK would not rest until “your people are free to live, believe and prosper”.

She added: “Innocent civilians must take shelter from Russia’s indiscriminate bombardment of places of worship. Churches, synagogues and mosques were reduced to ruins. Religion turns out to be a collateral damage of Putin’s aggression.

Carol C. Reed