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IS FREEDOM OF RELIGION PROTECTED IN NZ TODAY?

Even before New Zealand was born as a nation, Magna Carta’s affirmation that “the English Church shall be free” had over the centuries been worked out into seven specific aspects of religious freedoms.

These freedoms were developed by various mechanisms over the last five centuries, including the Treaty of Waitangi and the Bill of Rights Act 1999.

But religious freedom is being significantly eroded in many countries throughout the world in a resurgence of intolerance, complacency and uniformity. In New Zealand we have not seen the erosion of these freedoms to the extent seen in the UK or Australia and we do have laws in place to protect our freedoms. It is likely, however, that a similar drift will follow here through Human Rights Tribunal and Court interpretations.

WHY DO WE NEED A REVIEW?

The New Zealand 1999 Bill of Rights Act (BoRA):

• affirms the right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief, including the right to hold and embrace views without interference
• protects the right to express religion and belief in worship, observance, teaching and practice
• affirms the right of minorities to be free from discrimination.

But we need a review to see how far NZ law and the practice of Human Rights Tribunals may be failing to protect the seven fundamental aspects of freedom of religion in New Zealand today.

IT'S TIME TO REVISIT OUR HERITAGE

We are asking for a formal review to see how well our freedoms are currently being implemented and whether any group, for example Christians, may be “falling through the cracks” and their rights being neglected, sidelined or undermined.

Freedom of religion and other historic freedoms such as freedom of speech, freedom of the press and academic freedom are increasingly under threat in the UK and we could, in time, expect to see in NZ. In fact, four centuries of progress in achieving full freedom of religion is now being put into reverse in the UK.

IT’S TIME WE ACT BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE - SIGN OUR PETITION TODAY


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“The Church has a duty to protect the free practice of all faiths in this country.”

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
Lambeth Palace, February 2012

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