I have posted this brief review of freedom of religion websites as I thought others in the blogosphere may find it useful.
The International Religious Liberty Association (IRLA) claims to be ‘the oldest association dedicated to freedom of conscience for all people’. The organisation is affiliated to the Seventh Day Adventist Church and based in the United States. From what I can see the website mostly concentrates on the legal or policy aspects of freedom of religion with little or no news on the persecution of individuals or groups because of their beliefs. This appears borne out by their statement that ‘A primary aspect of the IRLA’s work is to ensure that religious freedom has the highest possible visibility on the world scene. To that end, we hold congresses, regional conferences, national symposiums, and local meetings—all aimed at making sure issues of religious freedom remain high on society’s agenda. For despite the importance of international covenants and national legislation, without public support for religious freedom, any gains remain at the level of theory rather than practice’.
Forum 18 is based in Norway and according to their own description ‘is a Christian web and e-mail initiative to provide original reporting and analysis on violations of the freedom of thought, conscience and belief of all people, whatever their religious affiliation, in an objective, truthful and timely manner. It mainly publishes on the former Soviet states, notably Belarus and Central Asia, but also publishes original work on states such as Serbia and Turkey. Forum 18 works for religious freedom for all on the basis of Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights’’ Their website seems a very useful source of news for the region they cover.
The International Coalition for Religious Freedom is affiliated to the Unification Church and claims to be ‘a non-profit, non-sectarian, educational organization dedicated to defending the religious freedom of all, regardless of creed, gender or ethnic origin. ICRF acknowledges with gratitude that, at the current time, it receives the bulk of its funding from institutions and individuals related to the Unification Church community’. They appear to concentrate on New Religious Movements. I am not sure if this site is still active as their newsletter has not been updated since 2004.
http://www.uscirf.gov/ is a very comprehensive U.S Government website with a wealth of news and information on Freedom of Religion throughout the world. According to the website ‘The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom was created by the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 to monitor the status of freedom of thought, conscience, and religion or belief abroad, as defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and related international instruments, and to give independent policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State, and the Congress’
The International Association For Religious Freedom (IARF) appears to concentrate on interfaith activity and promoting awareness of issues of religious freedom through conferences and reports The organisation describes itself as’ a UK-based charity working for freedom of religion & belief at a global level. We have a century-plus history of encouraging interfaith dialogue & tolerance, with member groups in 25 countries, from faith traditions including Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Shinto & Zoroastrianism’. Somewhat like IRLA there is very little reportage of the persecution of individuals and groups for their beliefs.