The specific mandate of the Committee to Study Religious Persecution and Liberty includes the following:
- Provide a Reformed framework that establishes a biblical and theological grounding for religious liberty and the injustice of religious persecution.
- Propose individual and group action that empowers the church in our increasingly secularized North American setting to walk alongside and intercede on behalf of those who are subject to religious persecution or denied religious liberty at home or abroad.
- Report on [the Committee’s] progress to Synod 2015 and provide the completed study to Synod 2016.
(Minutes of Synod 2013, Article 90)
Background to the Mandate
Classis Toronto overtured Synod 2013 to appoint a study committee to “equip our church” regarding religious persecution and religious liberty. The starting point of the original overture is the growing problem of religion-based persecution of Christians and others across the globe, which “calls urgently for response” by the church. The overture then suggests that the church cannot send a “coherent message” about the injustice of persecution without giving an account of the value of religious liberty. But Classis Toronto also notes that the problem of persecution and its relation to religious liberty is “complex” and “comprehensive.” As a result of both the urgency and intricacies of the problem, Classis Toronto argues that the CRCNA has ample grounds for committing its resources to careful study and practical recommendations.
Synod 2013 acceded to the overture and appointed a Committee to Study Religious Persecution and Liberty (Minutes of Synod 2013, Article 36).