STRASBOURG, France (TAB, MS) — During the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in mid-April, religious rights group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) won a battle against a European initiative that would allow governments to rule religious groups and reduce homeschooling rights. Public education in Europe often includes teachings on morality at odds with churches and calls unrecognized religious groups “sects.” For religious freedom advocates, the stakes were high. The resolutions, proposed by Rudy Salles of PACE’s Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, would damage the rights of European parents in educating their children “according to their own religious and philosophical convictions,” according to ADF. Salles, a member of France’s National Assembly, has been criticized for connections with a French agency, the Inter-Ministerial Mission for Vigilance and Action Against Sectarian Excesses, which is accused of conducting witch-hunts against independent religious groups. After the vote in favor of ADF and other religious rights advocates, PACE removed language from Salles’ report and resolutions that “threatened religious freedom and parental rights to educate their children.”
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