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The Council of Europe has adopted a new resolution calling for more acceptance of religious pluralism.
The council is a human rights organization that promotes cooperation between European countries and “advocates freedom of expression and of the media, freedom of assembly, equality and the protection of minorities.”

The council’s European Court of Human Rights enforces the European Convention on Human Rights.

The resolution was proposed by Valeriu Ghiletchi, a Moldovan politician and former president of the European Baptist Federation, and called for “a culture of tolerance based on the acceptance of religious pluralism” as well as the promotion of the concept of reasonable accommodation.

His report, which included the adopted resolution, was titled “Tackling Intolerance and Discrimination in Europe with a Special Focus on Christianity.”

Its introduction stated that “freedom of religion is a fundamental right and one of the foundations of a democratic and pluralist society.”

“However, acts of hostility, violence and vandalism targeting Christians and their places of worship are insufficiently taken into consideration and condemned,” it said.

During his presentation to the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly, Ghiletchi highlighted a number of cases where Christians had been discriminated against and argued that in current times we need “more freedom of religion, not less.”

“The goal is to raise awareness and encourage and promote the culture of living together, whether someone believes or not,” he said. “Europe should be a model to other places in the world, to show what it means to respect religious freedom.”

One of those speaking in the debate on Jan. 29 was the Ukrainian Baptist politician, Pavel Unguryan, who cited incidents of intolerance and persecution at the hands of Russian rebels.

Unguryan asked for better protection of Christian minorities, including more facilities to register officially and the ability to distribute religious literature.

Members voted overwhelmingly in favor of the report, with 67 for and only two against.

The resolution’s adoption was welcomed by CARE Europe, a nongovernmental organization based in Brussels, Germany, which seeks “to promote the Christian values which protect life, liberty and the family.” CARE worked alongside Ghiletchi on the report.

In a statement on the group’s Facebook page, CARE’s director, Paul Moynan, described the vote as “a great result.”

“This resolution sets the clear signal before all employers, government officials and all European citizens of the 47 member states to take account of religious faith and rights, not only on holydays but on every day of the week,” Moynan said.

Paul Hobson is the editor of The Baptist Times of Great Britain – the online newspaper of the Baptist Union of Great Britain. A version of this news article first appeared in The Baptist Times and is used with permission. You can follow him on Twitter @PaulHobson10, The Baptist Times @BaptistTimes and the Baptist Union @BaptistUnionGB.

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