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Freedom of Religion or Belief - An International Law Commentary by Bielefeldt, Heiner; Ghanea, Nazila; Wiener, Michael (21st January 2016)

Part 1 Freedom of Religion or Belief, 1.3.6 Teaching and Disseminating Materials (Including Missionary Activity)

From: Freedom of Religion or Belief: An International Law Commentary

Heiner Bielefeldt, Nazila Ghanea, Michael Wiener

Subject(s):
Religion — Freedom of association — Freedom of expression — Freedom of thought, conscience, and religion — Minorities — Human rights remedies

This chapter reviews the international standards providing for teaching and disseminating religious materials as well as concerning missionary activity. Articles 18 of the UDHR and ICCPR explicitly refer to the freedom to manifest one’s religion or belief in ‘teaching’, which is complemented in the subsequent article about the freedom to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers. In addition, article 6 of the 1981 Declaration specifically guarantees freedom to write, issue, and disseminate relevant publications in these areas; to teach a religion or belief in places suitable for these purposes; and to establish and maintain communications with individuals and communities in matters of religion or belief at the national and international levels. While it is prohibited to use or threaten physical force or to coerce individuals in other ways, missionary activities should not be curtailed through vague concepts, such as ‘inducement’, ‘allurement’, or ‘unethical conversion’, which still exist in several national criminal law provisions against ‘proselytism’.

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