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‘Those who remain silent are responsible’: UK statesman accepts Notre Dame religious liberty prize

On Thursday, Notre Dame Law School’s Religious Liberty Initiative awarded its Prize for Religious Liberty to Lord David Alton of Liverpool, a member of the House of Lords of the United Kingdom.

“For four decades, Alton has been a leading international voice on issues including the environment, human rights, and religious liberty,” according to a news release from the school.

“He has used his long career in Parliament to shine a spotlight on international threats to religious freedom as well as human rights abuses and genocidal atrocities against vulnerable populations,” the release continued.

Alton (pictured) spoke of his work and the people he has served in an award acceptance speech shared with The College Fix.

“Awards are, of course, a great and generous encouragement to the recipient…but they are also about far more than the individual concerned,” Lord David Alton said.

“This Award is also for the remarkable people and organisations who have collaborated with me…often as volunteers and selflessly giving their time, energy, and expertise in the cause of religious liberty,” he continued.

“Secondly, the award is also about the millions who suffer so grievously because of their religious faith or beliefs,” Alton said:

It is about the outrageous daily breach of Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that guarantees the right to believe, not to believe or to change belief. …

Last year at least 360 million Christians experienced ‘high levels of persecution and discrimination.‘ Worldwide, 13 Christians are killed every day because of their faith. …

Meeting those who have been beaten, tortured, imprisoned, raped, or bereaved never leaves you unchanged. You can’t put your hands into someone else’s wounds and remain unaffected. …

Edith Stein, murdered by the Nazis, was right. ‘Those who remain silent are responsible.” While another victim of the Nazis, Maximillian Kolbe, could have been speaking to our own times when he said, “The deadliest poison of our age is indifference.”

We have the right to freely come together in community with others and to worship in the tradition which we have embraced and with others to create holy spaces and places; to open schools and colleges in which to foster and educate our children.

It is also a duty of those who hold that each person is made in the image and likeness of our Creator to defend the civil, democratic and political rights and upholding of law in respectful societies and especially to defend the voiceless and most vulnerable of God’s children.

Notre Dame Law School presented the award at a London black-tie gala at the culmination of its third annual Religious Liberty Summit.

The school offers the prize once annually to a single person “in recognition of their achievement and support in preserving religious liberty,” according to the law school news release.

Read Lord David Alton’s full acceptance speech here.

MORE: Arizona Christian University sues school district for cutting ties due to religious beliefs

IMAGE: Notre Dame Law School

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