America Stands for Religious Freedom
Senator Alfonse DAmato (R-N.Y.), co-chairman of the Helsinki Commission, along with Congressman Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.), denounced discrimination against Scientologists in Germany. We will hold to account those governments that fail to live up to their promises, Senator DAmato said.
Other officials of the Commission said they would raise the issue directly with their German counterparts, and many commented forcefully against minority religious discrimination in Germany at the hearing.
After hearing that prejudice existed against Jehovahs Witnesses, Charismatic Christians, Muslims, Scientologists, Mormons and other religions, Congressman Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.), mentioning his own membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, stated, If America stands for anything, it stands for religious freedom.
Noting that religious intolerance has placed religious freedom at risk, Congressman Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), founding member of the Commission, said, The promise of the Helsinki Final Act was that it was the vigilance of our neighbors as well as that of ourselves that would protect those basic freedoms.
Religious freedom is not just something for religious people nor is it isolated from the other freedoms, co-chairman Smith said. Religious freedom is essentially the right to freedom of speech, thought and assembly directed toward ones deepest spiritual needs. If the state is permitted to deny these basic rights to one person or group on the basis of religion, what is to prevent the state from denying these other persons or other groups for other reasons?
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