2002, Rights - Religious, Human

Religious Rights and Religious Freedom

Religious Rights and Religious Freedom

Freedom of Religion in the World Today

Kevin Boyle

This is an important time to discuss the subject of religious freedom in the world: it was in the context of religion that the western world (previously largely remote from terrorism, if we exclude these islands) absorbed the horror of the attacks of 11 September in the United States. In the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights we were correct at an early point to label the attacks as crimes against humanity in international law. Militant Islam espoused and executed those attacks and undoubtedly the nexus long evidenced in history of different religions being linked to violence and conflict was reinforced worldwide. The 11 September attacks were carried out in the name of God and in the aftermath it is not the most propitious time to envisage greater religious freedom Indeed under the banner of counter-terrorism we have seen a backlash against various religions, including Islam, in many countries.

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2002, World Council of Churches

The Challenges facing CEC and the WCC

The Challenges Facing the Conference of European Churches and the World Council of Churches

The Challenges Facing the Conference of European Churches (CEC)

Keith Jenkins

The main challenges currently facing CEC relate to the European Union.

Work is now proceeding in the EU’s ‘Convention on the Future of Europe’. Its report will contain recommendations for the restructuring of the EU – perhaps a draft constitution or constitutional treaty for the Union.

One reason why restructuring is necessary is the imminent expansion of the EU. Structures originally designed for six countries creak with 15 and will be paralysed with a bigger membership.

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2002, Belarus, Ukraine

The Religious Situation in Belarus in 2002

The Religious Situation in Belarus in 2002

Vera Rich

Belarus is supposed to be a secular state. President Lukashenka describes himself as a nonbeliever, but aims to reintegrate Belarus into the Soviet Union, and he sees an alliance with the Orthodox Church as useful in this respect. The latter is an exarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate), and its head is still Filaret of Minsk, as it was in Soviet times.

Lukashenka has given the Orthodox Church many privileges, many of which are unconstitutional. For example any religious publishing house in Belarus has to have the approval of the Orthodox Church, whatever its denomination. The president has often denounced the Roman Catholic Church as a tool of NATO and anti-Belarusian. More and more restrictions are placed on foreign clergy. Now the situation is that no ‘servant of a foreign religion’ can go to Belarus without the permission of the government’s Committee for Religious Affairs. There has been an attempt by two or three priests of the Orthodox Church to link up with the Autocephalous Belarusian Orthodox Church based in Canada.

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2002, Ukraine

Ukraine in 2002

Ukraine in 2002

Sarah Birch


In the area of today’s Ukraine there is a tradition of foreign rule and of resistance to it. Before the Soviet period Ukraine had had only fleeting and unstable experience of autonomous statehood. In the twentieth century Ukraine was formed in stages, following the First and Second World Wars, on the ruins of collapsed empires. Ukraine gained territorial integrity for the first time as part of the Soviet Union, and won autonomy as a sovereign state only following the Soviet collapse in 1991. This fitful formation has left a number of social and cultural marks on the republic:

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