Freedom of religion

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Freedom of religion is a principle that supports the freedom of an individual or community, in public or private, to manifest religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance; the concept is generally recognized also to include the freedom to change religion or not to follow any religion.[1] The freedom to leave or discontinue membership in a religion or religious group —in religious terms called "apostasy" —is also a fundamental part of religious freedom.

Freedom of religion is considered by many people and nations to be a fundamental human right.[2][3] Thomas Jefferson said (1807) "among the inestimable of our blessings, also, is that ...of liberty to worship our Creator in the way we think most agreeable to His will; ..."[4]

In a country with a state religion, freedom of religion is generally considered to mean that the government permits religious practices of other sects besides the state religion, and does not persecute believers in other faiths. For a current overview, see section Contemporary situation of religious freedom in the world.


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