Children’s right to practise or choose their own religion or no religion

CRIN believes that children should never be compelled to follow a belief system that they do not adhere to. In line with the CRC’s recognition of evolving capacities, children should be able to choose to follow or leave their religion or belief as and when they decide. In addition, children should never be compelled to attend religious schools or religious education classes. Schools should promote respect for people of all faiths, encourage inter-faith understanding and work with students to challenge divisive, violent and fundamentalist versions of all religions.

Read more on page 12 of our discussion paper Age is Arbitrary: Discussion paper on setting minimum ages.

Access to justice

Where a child is forced to follow a religion they don’t adhere to or stopped from one they do, they should have access to justice. Children must have a range of avenues to challenge such violations, including in the national legal system and at the regional and international level.

Campaigns & resources

  • CRIN published a review of the October 2015 report by the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief covering children's rights and freedom of religion. This highlights areas we feel deserve more attention to ensure consistent and adequate recognition of children’s independent right to freedom of religion.
  • Children’s civil and political rights are often neglected by UN bodies and by advocates reporting to those bodies. CRIN analysed gaps in how these are addressed by the Human Rights Committee, including the right to freedom of religion.