21Wilberforce–a human rights organization named for William Wilberforce, a 19th-century British lawmaker who was key in the abolition of slavery throughout the British Empire–has launched a new website called Freedom Center.
It is “an online advocacy hub, with tools and information that can be used to learn and engage in the defense and advancement of global freedom of religion or belief.”
The website describes the rationale behind its creation:
“Today, more people globally are persecuted for their faith and for acting according to their conscience than in any time in history. We have been witnessing across the globe severe, routine acts of intolerance, discrimination, persecution and even genocide against religious believers on account of the beliefs they hold. In response to these growing challenges, there is a need for a new era for education, protection and advocacy for international religious freedom.
“Despite the magnitude of the problem and growing trends of religious repression worldwide, there has been virtually no coordinated or effective efforts in the West to broadly activate and facilitate collaborative action of grassroots networks for defending and advancing these freedoms—generally referred to in the U.S. as "international religious freedom" (IRF) or "freedom of religion and belief" (FORB) in Europe and many other countries.
“There are numerous non-governmental organizations (NGOs) engaged in advocacy, many with single-issue agendas. Campaigns for reforms and prisoners of conscience are often small and poorly funded. Potentially powerful grassroot networks are disconnected, while large faith-based and other groups remain untapped. The historic focus on high-level advocacy for a few visible cases has achieved some success, but ultimately has done little to tangibly help the vast number of ‘invisible’ people suffering for their religious identity, their faith, and or acts of conscience.”
The website provides a resource for “passionate individuals, grassroots activists, faith groups, NGOs and networks” to help them “become more active in raising awareness and strengthening the voices of those persecuted for their faith or belief around the world.”
“The time is ripe for fresh resources to inspire and equip for advocacy,” says 21Wilberforce President, Randel Everett. “We offer specific tools and guidance for how to do that effectively. New resources will continue to be added throughout the coming months.”
Located at 21wFreedom.center, the website includes “action tools” for organizing events, fundraising, peer-to-peer advocacy and petitions; a library of related documents and information; tools for creating effective campaigns and a calendar of annual events designed to raise awareness of human rights.
From its beginnings, the Church of Scientology has recognized that freedom of religion is a fundamental human right. In a world where conflicts are often traceable to intolerance of others’ religious beliefs and practices, the Church has, for more than 50 years, made the preservation of religious liberty an overriding concern.
The Church publishes this blog to help create a better understanding of the freedom of religion and belief and provide news on religious freedom and issues affecting this freedom around the world.