Bishop Nick has been in Berlin at the International Panel of Parliamentarians for Freedom of Religion or Belief (IPPFoRB ) - a global network of parliamentarians/legislators committed to combating religious persecution and advancing freedom of religion or belief*.
The conference concluded today (Wednesday) with a conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in which she congratulated IPPFoRB for becoming "one of the most important players in defending this inalienable right."
Writing in his blog, Bishop Nick says that one of the themes the conference has highlighted is, “the discrepancy in many countries between what is written in law and how that law is either implemented/applied or ignored . . . It is the implementation of that law that counts, and it is the discourse surrounding debate about that implementation that demands intellectual as well as moral integrity.
“What emerged from several parts of the world is the pressure under which freedom of religion and religious expression is coming. Attempts to exclude God/religious world views from the public square are not unique to the secular West, but the spurious assumptions behind them seem to have one thing in common: that secular humanism (for want of a better term) is neutral and occupies the neutral place in the public discourse. It is self-evidently true and is purely 'scientific' – that is to say, needs not to make its case for credibility because that case is obvious.
"The outcome – put briefly – is that liberalising societies demand the right for 'tolerance' unless asked to tolerate views that are inconvenient to its assumptions of what is tolerable. One delegate explained how attempts are being made in his country to shout down any expression of traditional family values or articulation of a conservative view of ethics that derives from religious commitment.
“That is not – as the speaker emphasised – to argue the case for the rightness of his views, but, rather, to insist that these views must be allowable if his society is to be truly tolerant.
Read more on Bishop Nick’s blog here.
* As defined by Article 18 of the UN Universal Declaration for Human Rights which declares, “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”