Genuine, Fair, Respectful, Rights of Others

The Tandem Project believes international human rights standards on freedom of religion or belief must have norms that unbiased, fair and equal for long-term solutions to conflicts based on religion or belief. Suggestions for Dialogue are welcome. Send to The Tandem Project by opening the Response box and submit a message.


Considering  that religion or belief, for anyone who professes either, is one of the fundamental elements in his conception of life and that freedom of religion or belief should be fully respected and guaranteed
, - Preamble, 1981 U.N. Declaration on the Elimination of all Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief, 25 November 1981

Selected Extracts for Dialogue

  • The warning signs are clear: unless we establish a genuine dialogue within and among all kinds of belief, ranging from religious fundamentalism to secular dogmatism, the conflicts of the future will probably be even more deadly.Mark C. Taylor, Williams College; New York Times Op Ed article.
  • Dialogue about deeply-held beliefs is one of the most sensitive and demanding challenges of our time. It requires attitudes of kindness, understanding, sensitivity and respect for persons who hold beliefs different from our own. - Rules for Respectful Dialogue, Tandem Project Human Rights Education Manual on the 1981 UN Declaration.
  • It is important to articulate the definition of the expression “freedom of religion or belief” for the purposes of this study. In that respect, it is recognized that sensitivity to labels is critically important for both religious and non-religious people when trying to reduce intolerance and discrimination based on religion or belief.  Passionate anger can quickly arise if people perceive their deeply held beliefs being described unfairly. Giving a label to matters relating to religious and other beliefs has always been a challenge to the United Nations and its Member States and involves complex and sensitive definitional issues. - Bahiyyih G. Tahzib, Freedom of Religion or Belief: Ensuring Effective International Legal Protection.
  • I join nearly all people of goodwill in wishing to see two old and cherished institutions – our two rocks of ages – science and religion – coexisting in peace while each works to make a distinctive patch for the integrated coat of many colors that will celebrate the distinctions of our lives, yet cloak human nakedness in a seamless covering called wisdom. Stephen Jay Gould, Rocks of Ages: Science and Religion in the Fullness of Life
  • A kernel of truth lurks at the heart of religion, because spiritual experience, ethical behavior, and strong communities are essential for human happiness. Clearly, it must be possible to bring reason, spirituality, and ethics together in our thinking about the world. This would be the beginning of a rational approach to our deepest personal concerns and the end of faith. – Sam Harris, The End of Faith
  • The decent liberal bending over backwards to concede as much as possible to anybody who shouts loudly enough, reaches ludicrous lengths in the following common piece of sloppy thinking. It goes roughly like this. You can’t prove a negative (so far so good). Science has no way to disprove the existence of a supreme being (this is strictly true). Therefore belief (or disbelief) in a supreme being is a matter of pure individual inclination, and they are therefore both equally deserving of respectful attention.”  - Richard Dawkins, from the Chapter on Great Convergence -“a devil’s chaplain”, Houghton Mifflin Company, 2003, p. 149.
  • Nobody can know what the ultimate things are. We must, therefore, take them as we experience them. And if such experience helps to make your life healthier, more beautiful, more complete and more satisfactory to yourself and to those you love, you may safely say: “This was the grace of God.” Carl Gustav Jung, Psychology and Religion, Terry Lectures delivered at Yale University.  
  • One might as well try to illuminate the midnight sky with a candle as throw the light of reason on metaphysics.” - Charles Darwin
  • If there is anyone among you who fancies himself wise – wise, I mean by the standard of this passing age – he must become a fool to gain true wisdom. For the wisdom of this world is folly in God’s sight. – St. Paul; 1 Corinthians 3: 18-19.
  • An illusion is not the same thing as an error; not is it necessarily an error…What is characteristic of illusions is that they are derived from human wishes…For instance, a middle-class girl may have the illusion that a prince will come and marry her. This is possible; and a few such cases have occurred. That the Messiah will come and found a golden age is much less likely. Whether one classifies this belief as an illusion or as something analogous to a delusion will depend on one’s personal attitude. Sigmund Freud -The Future of an Illusion
  • Soren Kirkegaard (1823-1855) stated a Christian must take a “leap of faith”-either/or. Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) said transcendentalism presumed a “special knowledge” derived from intuition. Blaise Pascal, a French philosopher and brilliant mathematician (1623-1662) said intuition was the key to God, “the heart has reasons that reason knows nothing about.” Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) agreeing with Islamic neo-platonic philosophy said “divine law revealed by God” complemented philosophy. Essay; United Nations, Human Rights, Freedom of Religion or Belief
  • I am not a believer. I am an agnostic in the wise sense of T.H. Huxley, who coined the word in identifying such open-minded skepticism as the only rational position because, truly, one cannot know. Nonetheless, I have great respect for religion. The subject has always fascinated me, beyond all others (with a few exceptions, like evolution, paleontology, and baseball). Stephen Jay Gould, Rocks of Ages: Science and Religion in the Fullness of Life
  • Darwin in a letter asking if he believed in God replied, “A man undoubtedly can be an ardent Theist and evolutionist, but if he had to wear a label, Huxley’s agnostic would be the most correct description of my state of mind.”  Written by Darwin in 1879, in reply to whether he believed in God and if theism and evolution were compatible, cited his friend, Rev. Charles Kingsley, as an example of a theist whom is also an ardent evolutionist- Adrian Desmond & James Moore, “Darwin”, page 568, Time Warner Books, 1991.                  
  • I will accept both Huxley’s view and the etymology of the word [religion] itself – and construe – as fundamentally religious (literally, binding us together) all moral discourse on principles that might activate the ideal of universal fellowship among people. Stephen Jay Gould, Rocks of Ages: Science and Religion in the Fullness of Life
  • Our educational systems need to provide children with a broad orientation: from the very beginning, children should be taught that their own religion is one out of many and that it is a personal choice for everyone to adhere to the religion or belief by which he or she feels most inspired, or to adhere to no religion or belief at all. – Ambassador-at-Large of the Netherlands for Human Rights, Piet de Klerk, 25 Year Anniversary Commemoration of the 1981 UN Declaration, 25 November 2006, Prague, Czech Republic
  • Article I:For the purpose of this convention: (a) - The expression “religion or belief” shall include theistic, non-theistic and atheistic beliefs; Draft International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Religious Intolerance, 1967
  • Article 18 protects theistic, non-theistic and atheistic beliefs, as well as the right not to profess any religion or belief.  - General Comment 22 on Article 18, United Nations Human Rights Committee, 1993.

The Tandem Project: a non-profit, non-governmental organization established in 1986 to build understanding and respect for diversity of religion or belief, and prevent discrimination in matters relating to freedom of religion or belief. The Tandem Project has sponsored multiple conferences, curricula, reference materials and programs on Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights – Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion - and the 1981 United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief.

The Tandem Project initiative was launched in 1986 as the result of a co-founder representing the World Federation of United Nations Associations (WFUNA) at a 1984 United Nations Geneva Seminar, Encouragement of Understanding, Tolerance and Respect in Matters Relating to Freedom of Religion or Belief, called by the UN Secretariat on ways to implement the 1981 UN Declaration. In 1986, The Tandem Project organized the first NGO International Conference on the 1981 UN Declaration.

The Tandem Project: Executive Director; Michael M. Roan, mroan@tandemproject.com