The Becket Fund opposes blasphemy laws around the world because we believe the state does not have the power to determine religious truth. Such laws stifle religious expression and allow powerful majorities to oppress weaker minorities. For the same reasons, we oppose religious defamation laws, which give legal cover to oppressive blasphemy statutes.
Freedom of religion is more than just freedom to worship. It is the freedom to practice one’s religion, which for many people includes wearing religious clothing and symbols. The Becket Fund defends the right of religious individuals in the United States and around the world to express their religion through their attire.
The Becket Fund opposes anti-conversion laws, which regulate how and when people may convert to a different faith. Anti-conversion laws allow majority religious communities to intimidate those who want to adopt a new religion, and the registration requirements enable persecutors to identify and target converts. We believe that the freedom to choose one’s religion is a fundamental aspect of religious liberty.
In our work on international issues, we pay special attention to international treaties that outline universal human rights, starting with Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which affirms, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights… [and] endowed with reason and conscience.” Article 18 specifies that “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice worship and observance.”
Other international treaties not only echo the same principles, but lend them the force of law.
Our international work falls primarily into one of the following categories:
Casework, Conferences, Special Projects (Body of Belief, Constitutional Coding Project), Advocacy (Blasphemy, UPR Databases, Oral Interventions), the Legal Training Institute, and individual issues (Blasphemy, Religious Attire, Conversion, Hybrid Legal Systems).