The New Zealand Human Rights Commission and the Religious Diversity Centre held a luncheon at the Parliament to promote the importance of social inclusion in the country.
In a program hosted by Member of Parliament Adrian Rurawhe, Dr. Maureen Sier, Director of Interfaith Scotland, delivered the keynote address “Protecting Religious Freedom and Diversity: The Role of Government and Interfaith Organizations in Promoting Social Inclusion.” The Scottish government funds Interfaith Scotland to engage in dialogue, educational activities, civic engagement and the promotion of religious equality.
Jocelyn Armstrong, Trust Board Chair of the Religious Diversity Centre, spoke of the importance of engagement and dialogue in formulating inclusive legislation and policies to reflect the religious diversity of New Zealand's changing demography.
Increased diversity is apparent from recent statistics. According to the 2013 New Zealand Census:
- The number of people living in New Zealand who were born overseas continued to climb, reaching more than 1 million people for the first time. In 2013, 1,001,787 people (25.2 percent) were born overseas, an increase of 303,159 people since the 2001 Census.
- In 2013, the most common birthplace for people living in New Zealand but born overseas was Asia—31.6 percent of the population was born there. In comparison, 26.5 percent of the population was born in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
- In 2013, England and the People's Republic of China remained the first and second most common countries of birth for overseas-born people living in New Zealand, but India replaced Australia as the third most common country of birth.
Those attending the program agreed that education plays a key role in ensuring the harmonious coexistence of diverse ethnic and religious populations.
From its beginnings, the Church of Scientology has recognized that freedom of religion is a fundamental human right. In a world where conflicts are often traceable to intolerance of others’ religious beliefs and practices, the Church has, for more than 50 years, made the preservation of religious liberty an overriding concern.
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