2020

Big Win! Key Religious Liberty Position, Petitioned for by iFamNews, Reinstated by European Commission

The position of Special Envoy for the Promotion of Freedom of Religion or Belief outside the European Union has been reinstated by the European Commission after having previously been discontinued. Mr. Ián Figel' has served in that role until is mandate expired in December 2019.

By Marco Respinti — A great, strategic victory has been won. The position of Special Envoy for the Promotion of Freedom of Religion or Belief outside the European Union has been reinstated by the European Commission!

Russia: Abnormal penalties imposed on Jehovah's Witnesses

On March 3, 2020, Mr. Artëm Gerasimov, a member of the Christian Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses, was sentenced by the Yalta Court (Crimea) to a penalty of 400,000 rubles (about € 5,300) on charges of practicing his religion, a crime sanctioned by the wretched Yarovaya law which labels Witnesses and other religious minorities disliked by the dominant Orthodox religion as "extremist". Gerasimov did not lose heart and appealed, but on June 4, 2020, the Crimean high court sentenced him to six years in prison, again on the basis of being a "dangerous extremist".

America and the Worldwide Religious Freedom

On June 2nd, President Donald J. Trump signed an Executive Order on Advancing International Religious Freedom, instructing the U.S. State Department to prioritize international religious freedom in its implementation of foreign policy and budget.

«Religious freedom, America’s first freedom, is a moral and national security imperative» the executive order reads. «Religious freedom for all people worldwide is a foreign policy priority of the United States, and the United States will respect and vigorously promote this freedom».

Violence and Discrimination Against Members of Shincheonji in South Korea

Report to the United Nations General Assembly on Eliminating Intolerance and Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief and the Achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 16 (SDG 16)

Dear General Rapporteur:
We are NGOs specialized in defending religious liberty, and scholarly organizations promoting research on new religious movements. We are concerned about discrimination against a Christian new religious movement known as Shincheonji in South Korea (on Shincheonji, see Introvigne 2019, Introvigne 2020).

Jehovah's Witnesses and conscientious objection

Holocaust victims, derided, discriminated against, subject to virulent attacks by anti-cult organizations and fake news fabricated ad hoc, Jehovah's Witnesses have always been an example of integrity and altruism that materialized with epochal human rights achievements. This was the case for the freedom of therapeutic choice and for the right to conscientious objection, now recognized as an inalienable right.. A survey promoted by the national headquarters of the Christian Congregation of Jehovah has brought to light the heroic efforts sustained by young Witnesses during the period spanning from 1960 to 1990.

Letter in Support of Vietnamese Hmong and Montagnard Christians

The Honorable Donald J. Trump
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Trump,
We, the undersigned organizations and individuals, are writing to applaud your appointment of the Special Adviser to the President on International Religious Freedom within the National Security Council, and to respectfully request your attention to the situation of religious minorities in Vietnam.

25 Years After: Release the 11th Panchen Lama!

by Marco Respinti — In 1995, the CCP kidnapped the second highest authority in the Geluk school of Tibetan Buddhism to substitute him with a puppet. European MPs now call for his release. Parliamentarians of different European countries have issued statements calling upon China to immediately release Tibet’s 11th Panchen Lama, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, and his entire family on the 25th year of their “disappearance.” 15 Swiss parliamentarians, 4 from Italy, 16 Czech MPs and 16 Czech Senators signed four different requests.

From social distance to Muslim solidarity proximity at the time of Covid-19

by Vasco Fronzoni — The Italian Muslim communities have faced the challenge of contagion with a pragmatic spirit. As it known, Islam does not recognize universal leaders, and therefore chooses on the basis of the general reference principles, which in the case of epidemics refer to a hadith that prescribes «if you hear of a plague in a land do not enter it; and if it breaks out in the land where you stay, do not leave»

Religions and the coronavirus

Religion, from the Latin religio -onis, akin to religare «to bind». A demanding term in times of coronavirus and social distances. In reality, the concept of religare refers to the beliefs, feelings and rites that bind an individual or a human group with what it considers sacred. And it is the link with these sentiments and values common to each creed that, even in these difficult times, guides religions to mobilize to help others.

USCIRF Condemns the Stigmatization of Religious Minorities during COVID-19 Pandemic

Washington, DC – The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) today expressed its concern over reports that religious minority groups from around the world have faced discrimination because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Religious communities have been harassed and accused of bringing COVID-19 to their countries.

A coalition of NGOs questions the People's Republic of China at the United Nations

Our federated CAP LC organised an event to be held on March 4, 2020, as a sideline of the Human Rights Council, a conference on Human Rights in the People’s Republic of China. On March 3, the HRC Secretariat announced that all side-events were canceled due to the COVID-19 epidemic. Despite the cancellation, conference speakers met at the United Nations to make their voices heard on human rights concerns in the People’s Republic of China.

Shincheonji and Coronavirus in South Korea: Sorting Fact from Fiction

"We are scholars, human rights activists, reporters. and lawyers, all with a substantial experience in the field of new religious movements (derogatorily called “cults” by their opponents). Some of us have studied the Korean Christian new religious movement known as Shincheonji Church of Jesus, the Temple of the Tabernacle of the Testimony (in short, Shincheonji).

Shincheonji didn’t lie about membership figures

Despite suspicions to the contrary, the Shincheonji Church of Jesus membership list that authorities obtained through a probe was not much different from the list the Christian sect had provided earlier.

Some politicians, heads of local governments and Justice Ministry officials had called for a prosecutorial investigation into the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, accusing the sect of hampering disease control efforts by intentionally omitting names from the list it submitted.

Coronavirus and Shincheonji: Stopping the Witch Hunt

To:
H.E. Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner of Human Rights
H.E. Ambassador Sam Brownback, US Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom

Dear President Bachelet:
Dear Ambassador Brownback:

We represent international NGOs specialized in the defense of religious liberty. We are deeply concerned with a growing number of instances of intolerance and discrimination against Shincheonji, a South Korean new religious movement, after a number of its members were diagnosed with COVID-19.

South Korea: Intolerance Against Shincheonji Church After Coronavirus Incident

by Massimo Introvigne (CESNUR) — Media all around the world are focusing attention on Shincheonji Church, a South Korean Christian new religious movement, after members of the church’s Daegu congregation were infected by the coronavirus. As a scholar who has studied Schincheonji, I am concerned with the fact that international media that obviously know nothing about it have ‘discovered’ this church overnight because of the coronavirus incidents in Korea, and have repeated inaccurate information they found on low-level Internet sources.