A Christian who sought election to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has been questioned in a ‘loaded and pejorative manner’ about whether his faith will interfere with his job.
Religious liberty campaigners have written to the Organization of American States (OAS) to complain about the treatment of Dr Carlos Bernal Pulido, who later withdrew from the interview process.
He received a questionnaire asking him whether he ‘will apply his religious beliefs or biblical interpretations to cases before him, rather than the sources of law that happen to be applicable’.
He was also asked, ‘whether he considers his religious beliefs to be contrary to any human rights source, standard or interpretation; or whether his Christian faith entails him having “preconceived ideas regarding…their role that women and LGTI persons should occupy in society”.’
An open letter signed by several religious freedom agencies said the questions were asked ‘in a loaded and pejorative manner’ and they said the attempt to tarnish Dr Bernal Pulido’s candidacy was an act of ‘bigotry’.
The letter also said, ‘We must not be naive. It is clear that the only reason these questions are even asked is because of Mr Bernal’s faith, since the interviewers have reservations about his Christianity per se,’ adding, ‘This is a serious prejudice.’
Alliance Defending Freedom International is one of the signatories of the open letter. Spokesman Tomás Henríquez said it should be a given that nobody is discriminated against because of their faith.
He commented, ‘Christian candidates to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights should not face discrimination.
‘The questioning of the self-appointed “Panel for Election Monitoring in the Inter-American Human Rights System” regarding Carlos Bernal’s religious views was undoubtedly biased and exhibited a clear prejudice against Christians.
‘The OAS should not condone attempts to discriminate against people of faith. Failure to condemn such attempts will undermine the credibility and confidence in the Inter-American human rights system.’
The campaign group added, ‘The evaluation to decide whether Bernal will serve on the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights cannot and should not be based on bad faith questioning of his religious convictions, but rather on his extensive judicial and academic career, with respect to which the panel had no objections.’