Is the freedom to share the gospel a human right?

Many Latter-day Saints may not be familiar with the term "proselytism," but it's making the rounds in academic and media circles in a debate about the rights and ethics of religions to convert others, particularly overseas. In Mormon vernacular, it's all about the obligation and role of "missionary work."

It's a debate worth watching because public policy often springs from such discussions. Earlier this month the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs at Georgetown University held a day-long event to discuss the issues. (Unfortunately, video from the conference won't be available for a couple of months.) Julia Duinn, religion editor at the Washington Times, talked to some of the participants in the event.

"Is proselytizing an international human right? Does everyone have a right to spread his religion to others? The 1948 U.N. Declaration of Human Rights not only allows believers to publicly 'manifest' their religious beliefs but also guarantees a 'freedom to change' those beliefs? Or is proselytizing "identity theft,' coaxing the unwary to give up their faith? The world's two largest religions, Christianity and Islam, both have the mandate to try to convert others to their faith. However, there's not equal access.

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