Baylor University Panel Says Religious Liberty Is Declining Around the World

“Freedom is on decline in the world,” Baylor University President Ken Starr told participants at the Global Religious Freedom Summit on the Baylor campus. (Photo by Robert Rogers/Baylor Marketing & Communications)
“Freedom is on decline in the world,” Baylor University President Ken Starr told participants at the Global Religious Freedom Summit on the Baylor campus. (Photo by Robert Rogers/Baylor Marketing & Communications)

Baylor University President Ken Starr and other experts maintain the state of religious liberty is at its lowest point in recent history.

Repressive governments, radical Islamists and reluctance by Western leaders to confront human rights abuses combine to create the worst global climate for religious liberty in recent history, say a university president with expertise in constitutional law, a victim of religious persecution in China and a former Congressman.

“Freedom is on decline in the world,” Baylor University President Ken Starr told participants at the Global Religious Freedom Summit on the Baylor campus in Waco, Texas, March 19.

Starr joined Bob Fu, founding president of the China Aid Association, and Frank Wolf, a 17-term Congressman from Virginia and sponsor of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, in a panel discussion at the event. It was organized by the Baylor chapter of the China Aid Association.

“Free exercise of religion means much more than freedom of worship,” Starr said, citing both the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Starr criticized the “minimalist” position that sees religious liberty only as protecting freedom to worship. Such an approach is “a modern-day heresy” that seeks to keep people of faith from bringing their beliefs into the marketplace of ideas, he added.

Wolf agreed that religious liberty cannot be confined to what happens within the walls of a house of worship. He cited the impact of faith-based convictions on public policy, from William Wilberforce’s 40-year campaign to abolish the British slave trade to Martin Luther King Jr.’s leadership in the civil rights movement.

China officially recognizes “freedom of belief,” Fu observed, “but not freedom to practice that belief — certainly not in the public square.”

Fu — who participated as a student in the Tiananmen Square demonstrations in 1989 — led a house church in Beijing until he and his wife, Heidi, were imprisoned for two months for “illegal evangelism” in 1996.

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SOURCE: Baptist News Global
Ken Camp

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