The World Council of Churches: Declaration on Religious Liberty
 Adopted at the First Assembly of the World Council of Churches
in Amsterdam in August 1948.

An essential element in a good international order is freedom of religion.  This is an implication of the Christian faith and of the world-wide nature of Christianity.  Christians, therefore, view the question of religious freedom as an international problem.  They are concerned that religious freedom be everywhere secured.  In pleading for this freedom, they do not ask for any privilege to be granted to Christians that is denied to others.  While the liberty with which Christ has set men free can neither be given nor destroyed by any Government, Christians, because of that inner freedom, are both jealous of its outward expression and solicitous that all men should have freedom in religious life.  The nature and destiny of man by virtue of his creation, redemption and calling, and manís activities in family, state and culture establish limits beyond which the government cannot with impunity go.  The rights which Christian discipleship demands are such as are good for all men, and no nation has ever suffered by reason of granting such liberties.  Accordingly:

The rights of religious freedom herein declared shall be recognized and observed for all persons without distinctions as to race, colour, sex, language, or religion, and without imposition of disabilities by virtue of legal provision of administrative acts.

1.     Every person has the right to determine his own faith and creed.

The right to determine faith and creed involves both the process whereby a person adheres to a belief and the process whereby he changes his belief.  It includes the right to receive instruction and education.

This right becomes meaningful when man has the opportunity of access to information.  Religious, social and political institutions have the obligation to permit the mature individual to relate himself to sources of information in such a way as to allow personal religious decision and belief.

The right to determine oneís belief is limited by the right of parents to decide sources of information to which their children shall have access.  In the process of reaching decisions, everyone ought to take into account his higher self-interests and the implications of his beliefs for the well-being of his fellowmen.

2.     Every person has the right to express his religious beliefs in worship, teaching and practice, and to proclaim the implications of his beliefs for relationships in a social or political community.

The right of religious expression includes freedom of worship both public and private; freedom to place information at the disposal of others by processes of teaching, preaching and persuasion; and freedom to pursue such activities as are dictated by conscience.  It also includes freedom to express implications of belief for society and its government.
This right requires freedom from arbitrary limitation of religious expression in all means of communication, including speech, press, radio, motion pictures and art.  Social and political institutions should grant immunity from discrimination and from legal disability on grounds of expressed religious conviction, at least to the point where recognized community interests are adversely affected.

Freedom of religious expression is limited by the rights of parents to determine the religious point of view to which their children shall be exposed.  It is further subject to such limitations, prescribed by law as are necessary to protect order and welfare, morals and the rights and freedoms of others.  Each person must recognize the rights of others to express their beliefs and must have respect for authority at all times, even when conscience forces him to take issue with the people who are in authority or with the position they advocate.

3.     Every person has a right to associate with others and to organize with them for religious purposes.

This right includes freedom to form religious organizations, to seek membership in religious organizations, and to sever relationships with religious organizations.

It requires that the rights of association and organization guaranteed by a community to its members include the right of forming associations for religious purposes.

It is subject to the same limits imposed on all associations by non-discriminatory laws.

4.     Every religious organization, formed or maintained by action in accordance with the rights of individual persons, has the right to determine its policies and practices for the accomplishment of its chosen purposes.

The rights which are claimed for the individual in his exercise of religious liberty become the rights of the religious organization, including the right to determine its faith and creed; to engage in religious worship, both public and private; to teach, educate, preach and persuade; to express implications of belief for society and government.  To these will be added certain corporate rights which derive from the rights of individual persons, such as the right: to determine the form of organization, its government and conditions of membership; to select and train its own officers, leaders and workers; to publish and circulate religious literature; to carry on service and missionary activities at home and abroad; to hold property and to collect funds; to co-operate and to unite with other religious bodies at home and in other lands, including freedom to invite or to send personnel beyond national frontiers and to give or to receive financial assistance; to use such facilities, open to all citizens or associations, as will make possible the accomplishment of religious ends.

In order that these rights may be realized in social experience, the state must grant to religious organizations and their members the same rights which it grants to other organizations, including the right of self-government, of public meeting, of speech, of press and publications, of holding property, of collecting funds, of travel, of ingress and egress, and generally of administering their own affairs.

The community has the right to require obedience to non-discriminatory laws passed in the interest of the public order and well-being.  In the exercise of its rights, a religious organization must respect the rights of other religious organizations and must safeguard the corporate and individual rights of the entire community.