Religion & Human Rights

religious_persecution

Two Prickly Folks At The Café

PF1: “How can you say that? God intended for His servants to worship him through well-trained and devoted ministers—people called to His service and anointed with His power!”

PF2: “Bull!  You think God cares about the kind of ministers you have? Bigoted, servile automatons is what they are!!

PF1: “Well, I’d rather listen to one of my ministers than one of your so-called ‘priests’—just a bunch of puny excuses for real  men—

~~~~~~~~~
Your humble observer quickly left the Café before a fist-fight broke out…
~~~~~~~~~

That imaginary “conversation” isn’t all that different from real ones I’ve heard. People displaying highly irreligious attitudes as they fight like animals over what they claim is the “True Faith”.

This kind of religious intolerance can quickly lead to actual violence and, if sanctioned by powerful organizations or governments, roll right downhill into flagrant and physical persecution of whole groups of our human family.

From the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom:

Countries of Particular Concern:

Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Vietnam

Lest someone think that concerning themselves with religious freedom is of low value, remember: losing one freedom erodes the security of other freedoms…

International Conventions that need global support:

International Religious Freedom Act of 1998
“The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom shall have as its primary responsibility the annual and ongoing review of the facts and circumstances of violations of religious freedom and the making of policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State, and Congress with respect to matters involving international religious freedom.”

Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
“Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes the freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”

Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
“Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice, and teaching.”

From The Guardian:
“Religious persecution can never be excused, but its causes can be explained. The haunting fear of hidden, unexpected revolution drives every dictator, sooner or later, to savage attacks on those he fears most and understands least. Dictators who claim dominion over a man’s mind as well as his body, whose regimes are based on tyranny and their people’s ignorance of the outside world, are wont to attack religious leaders, who must, at all costs, be discredited.”

Spiritual Quote:

“The activity most intimately linked to the consciousness that distinguishes human nature is the individual’s exploration of reality for himself or herself. The freedom to investigate the purpose of existence and to develop the endowments of human nature that make it achievable requires protection. Human beings must be free to know. That such freedom is often abused and such abuse grossly encouraged by features of contemporary society does not detract in any degree from the validity of the impulse itself.

“It is this distinguishing impulse of human consciousness that provides the moral imperative for the enunciation of many of the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration and the related Covenants. Universal education, freedom of movement, access to information, and the opportunity to participate in political life are all aspects of its operation that require explicit guarantee by the international community. The same is true of freedom of thought and belief, including religious liberty, along with the right to hold opinions and express these opinions appropriately.

“Since the body of humankind is one and indivisible, each member of the race is born into the world as a trust of the whole. This trusteeship constitutes the moral foundation of most of the other rights — principally economic and social — which the instruments of the United Nations are attempting similarly to define. The security of the family and the home, the ownership of property, and the right to privacy are all implied in such a trusteeship. The obligations on the part of the community extend to the provision of employment, mental and physical health care, social security, fair wages, rest and recreation, and a host of other reasonable expectations on the part of the individual members of society.”
Bahá’í International Community, 1995 Mar 03, The Prosperity of Humankind, Section II

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Youth ~ Yes They Can !

youth_yes_they_canYouth have been mostly overlooked when adults consider solutions for critical problems.

Some typical responses are:

“They don’t have the experience or maturity to deal with major issues.”

“All they care about are watching videos and texting each other.”

“Youth? Their major interest is sex.”

“Help the world? Are you kidding?!”

Well, I happened on a video that shows a group of youth doing what most people consider an adult occupation.

In fact, they’re doing it just as well as the adults.

Mature? Capable? Informed? Organized? Disciplined?

Yes They Are!!!

Spiritual Quote:

“In spite of the encircling gloom….There are many notable signs of the awakening now in progress. Men and women everywhere, and the youth of both sexes in particular, are devoting their energies to the service of great ideals.

“National service in itself is a training for the reconstruction which must take place in the world…National service is great, but world service is greater.
Lady Blomfield, The Chosen Highway , p. 3

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We Are One ~ “Ya Gotta Be Kiddin’!”

oneness_of_humanityActually, I’m not kidding. We have always  been One.

Sure doesn’t seem like it though, right?

Consider this example:

Any given human being is One individual. That human being has many aspects and functions that compose their Oneness. Often, one or more of those aspects or functions starts to veer out of balance with the other functions and the One human has a Conflict; even to the point that they feel like more than One person—multiple entities fighting for control…

That’s a perfect picture of our Human Oneness—at war with itself, aspects and functions of the Whole fighting and disrupting the Balance.

One Person/One World: Sick and Disrupted, the Parts bringing down the Whole, Suicidal…

I, however, firmly believe that humanity’s Oneness will be healed; in fact, I can say it’s inevitable!

Consider:

Humans began as small family and tribal units and learned the evolutionary lessons of how to live as One.

We then formed city-states and, eventually, nations. Those human structures have gone through an evolutionary growth that has given each of us an identity as members of rather large Wholes.

Why should human evolution stop here, no matter the crises and sicknesses that infect the Whole?

Who but a doomed pessimist would look into the future and see us reduced back to separate, small tribes or totally wiped out?

Historically, as each phase of transition in the organization of humanity approached, things began to look bad, people cried out a warning that humanity was doomed and… We’re still here.

Almost makes one think there’s a greater Plan; that a higher power actually wants us to achieve Global Unity and express our inherent Oneness in peace and tranquility…

Spiritual Quote:

“Let there be no mistake. The principle of the Oneness of Mankind—the pivot round which all the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh revolve—is no mere outburst of ignorant emotionalism or an expression of vague and pious hope. Its appeal is not to be merely identified with a reawakening of the spirit of brotherhood and good-will among men, nor does it aim solely at the fostering of harmonious cooperation among individual peoples and nations. Its implications are deeper, its claims greater than any which the Prophets of old were allowed to advance. Its message is applicable not only to the individual, but concerns itself primarily with the nature of those essential relationships that must bind all the states and nations as members of one human family. It does not constitute merely the enunciation of an ideal, but stands inseparably associated with an institution adequate to embody its truth, demonstrate its validity, and perpetuate its influence. It implies an organic change in the structure of present-day society, a change such as the world has not yet experienced. It constitutes a challenge, at once bold and universal, to outworn shibboleths of national creeds—creeds that have had their day and which must, in the ordinary course of events as shaped and controlled by Providence, give way to a new gospel, fundamentally different from, and infinitely superior to, what the world has already conceived. It calls for no less than the reconstruction and the demilitarization of the whole civilized world—a world organically unified in all the essential aspects of its life, its political machinery, its spiritual aspiration, its trade and finance, its script and language, and yet infinite in the diversity of the national characteristics of its federated units.

“It represents the consummation of human evolution —an evolution that has had its earliest beginnings in the birth of family life, its subsequent development in the achievement of tribal solidarity, leading in turn to the constitution of the city-state, and expanding later into the institution of independent and sovereign nations.

“The principle of the Oneness of Mankind, as proclaimed by Bahá’u’lláh, carries with it no more and no less than a solemn assertion that attainment to this final stage in this stupendous evolution is not only necessary but inevitable, that its realization is fast approaching, and that nothing short of a power that is born of God can succeed in establishing it.”
Shoghí Effendí Rabbání, The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 42

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Religious Persecution

religious_persecutionOur last post brought attention to the plight of seven Bahá’ís in Iran—arrested and held for eight months with no access to legal counsel and scheduled for trial this week on charges of  “…espionage for Israel, insulting religious sanctities, and propaganda against the Islamic republic”.

Similarly baseless charges are being leveled against Christians, Jews, Sufis, and many others.

There has been global and swift reaction to this gross example of religious persecution of the Bahá’ís from governments, groups, and individuals.

From a Resolution of the U.S. Congress to strong individual coverage of the situation, people are rallying to aid their fellow humans.

One reason the Bahá’ís are deeply troubled about their incarcerated Friends is a hauntingly similar situation in 1983 when a girl of 16 named, Mona, was hanged with nine other young women—just for being Bahá’ís…

monasstory_picMona

Would that we All  could help in some way to end All 
religious persecution…

Spiritual Quote:

Legislation can and does suppress both acts of religious persecution and the attitude of religious intolerance itself. As Mr. Arcot Krishnaswami indicates in his Study of Discrimination in the Matter of Religious Rights and Practices , “Individuals are inclined to consider wrong what the law prohibits, and right what it enjoins them to do” (p. 63). However, to eradicate religious intolerance at its root, legislation must be supported by education, beginning in primary school.

“Schools must first train the children in the principles of religion,” says Bahá’u’lláh, “so that the promise and the threat, recorded in the Books of God, may prevent them from the things forbidden and adorn them with the mantle of the commandments; but this in such a measure that it may not injure the children by resulting in ignorant fanaticism and bigotry” (Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh , 68). Religious education should teach children to manifest the nobility with which they were endowed by a loving God. It should encourage them to cultivate in their own character such divine attributes as compassion, tolerance, justice, righteousness, loyalty, truthfulness, wisdom, and humility. Children who learn to see in all religions the signs of the one Creator, will consider all religions part of a common human heritage, worthy not only of respect but of careful study.

The study of the history and culture, if based on the premise of the oneness of humanity, should lead to a growing appreciation of the diverse religious traditions. This appreciation will be strengthened by interaction with people of different faiths, if the purpose is to promote unity. An everyday familiarity with people of different backgrounds will help each individual to lift the veil of cultural difference and see beneath it the shared humanity of all the peoples of the world. “O people! consort with the followers of all religions in a spirit of friendliness and fellowship,” Bahá’u’lláh commands His followers (Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh , 22). “Consorting with people hath promoted and will continue to promote unity and concord” (Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh , 36).
Bahá’í International Community, 1995 Jan 10, Promoting Religious Tolerance

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Repression . . .

bahai_martyrs

These are dangerous people?


…a developmental psychologist.
…a once-successful factory owner.
…an industrialist.
…an agricultural engineer.
…a teacher and school principal.
…a former social worker.
…an optometrist.


What do they have in common?

They’re members of the same Faith, they’ve been in prison for many months, and they’re going to trial next week with no access to legal counsel.

The charges?

“…espionage for Israel, insulting religious sanctities, and propaganda against the Islamic republic”.

What country is this occurring in?

Iran.

Statements by U.S. Government and NGOs

State Department condemns Iranian government’s charges against Baha’is
February 13, 2009

USCIRF calls for justice for Baha’i prisoners in Iran
Statement from the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom

Congressional Record – February 11, 2009
Representative Frank R. Wolf expressed concern over the upcoming trial of the seven Baha’i leaders

Amnesty International Urgent Action
Amnesty International has launched an urgent action update exclusively devoted to the latest news about the Baha’i leaders in Iran.

Institute condemns charges and upcoming trial against the Baha’i leaders in Iran 
The Institute for Religion and Public Policy issued this statement on February 12, 2009

Baha’i “Spying” Case Strikes New Blow Against Religious Freedom in Iran
Freedom House strongly condemns the Iranian government’s decision to try 7 Baha’is next week

 

Media Coverage

February 12, 2009
World Briefing – Middle East – Iran – 7 Bahais to Face Trial
The New York Times

Baha’i Leaders In Iran Charged With Spying For Israel
RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty, Czech Republic

Iran Announces Trial of Baha’i Leadership
7thSpace Interactive

Baha’i Leaders In Iran Charged With Spying For Israel
Payvand, Iran

February 11, 2009

Iran to try Bahais for spying for Israel

Agence France Presse – AFP

Iran charges 7 members of Baha’i faith with spying for Israel
Ha’aretz, Israel

Iran vows to try 7 Baha’i leaders as spies
Times Colonist, Canada

Obama’s Two Iran Tests 
Michael Rubin in the corner of The National Review Online

Iran to try Bahais for spying for Israel
Human Rights Tribune, Switzerland

Iran to try seven Baha’is for “spying” for Israel
IranVNC, DC


The official response from the
Bahá’í International Community


Religious Freedom? Human Rights? Equity and Justice?

All these will be on trial with these seven persecuted people . . .

Spiritual Quote:

Statement to the forty-fourth session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights

Agenda item 23: Implementation of the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief

Geneva, Switzerland
17 February 1988

* * * * * * * * *

“All religions teach that we should love one another; that we should seek out our own shortcomings before we presume to condemn the faults of others; that we must not consider ourselves superior to our neighbors.”

If all people were to follow these norms, as described in the passage we have just quoted from the Bahá’í writings, religious intolerance would cease to be a blot on human affairs. The ideals of the 1981 Declaration would become a reality for the suffering victims of religious persecution.

The Bahá’í International Community believes that binding international norms protecting human rights are of great importance. We are therefore following with great interest the recent discussions in the Sub-Commission and the Commission on the possible elaboration of a binding international instrument dealing with freedom of religion or belief, inspired by the recommendations contained in Mrs. Odio Benito’s excellent study. We are convinced, however, that in this delicate process it is important not to lose sight of the standards already spelled out in the 1981 Declaration. As the Commission’s Special Rapporteur, Dr. Ribeiro, indicated in his report presented last year, these standards can be understood as moral guidelines to those states which voted in favor of the Declaration in 1981.

We also believe that it is useful to focus attention on contemporary manifestations of religious intolerance. We have therefore studied with interest Dr. Ribeiro’s latest report, hope that his mandate will once again be renewed by the Commission, and wish to underline the importance of forging a broad and non-partisan consensus on the elimination of religious intolerance.

While Dr. Ribeiro has chosen to focus on allegations of violations of religious freedom in seven countries, it is important to bear in mind that many countries suffer from the pernicious influence of religious intolerance. Efforts to implement the 1981 Declaration, and to formulate an eventual convention, must be guided by an appreciation for the universal nature of the problem.

In the Bahá’í view, a crucial means for implementing the 1981 Declaration is the development of tolerance among individuals and the abolition of religious exclusivity and fanaticism. Dr. Ribeiro has rightly pointed out that intransigent attitudes, the claim of religious believers to an absolute and exclusive hold on truth, and the denial of the right of everyone to be different are root causes of religious discrimination.

Indeed, human beings have a tendency to view their own beliefs as right, and all others as wrong. They have, we suggest, erroneously interpreted the tenets of their own faiths as advocating such exclusivity, and sometimes as giving them the right to persecute others under the banner of upholding their version of truth. The Bahá’í writings admonish humankind to abandon such intolerant attitudes and replace them with mutual respect and forbearance.

How can religious dogmatism be banished from human minds and hearts? In the first place, we believe that all the world’s major religions have proceeded from the same Source, worshipped alike by Bahá’í, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jew and Moslem, as well as members of other religions. The core teachings of every religion—for example, the teaching to love one’s neighbor—are essentially the same, and we submit that they reflect one universal truth.

Understanding of this point will enable each individual, whatever his or her religion, to view other religions with due respect. This perspective fosters tolerance among people of various beliefs, despite the differences that may exist in their outward religious practices. For this reason, we welcome Dr. Ribeiro’s suggestion that interreligious dialogue should be fostered and that such discussions should aim at “emphasizing the similarities among various religions and beliefs rather than their differences.”

While believing, as part of our faith, that all the great religions are united in the fundamental principles that they espouse, the Bahá’í writings advocate the moral obligation of everyone to search for truth independently. Religions and beliefs must never be forced on people. Instead, the Bahá’í writings indicate that each individual should utilize his own powers of intellect, reason and spirit to search for truth.

The principle of independent search after truth can help to heal the wounds inflicted by intolerance in at least two important ways. On the one hand, it induces each individual to act humbly towards others, instead of with an air of superiority, and to respect their right to choose beliefs of their own as a result of their own quest for truth.

On the other hand, we believe that, if people are permitted to question the dogmas handed down over generations, and to seek truth using their own faculties of perception, they will develop a genuine appreciation for religious tolerance.

We therefore welcome initiatives designed to increase respect for different beliefs and understanding among religions. This is why, for example, the Bahá’í International Community has actively participated, along with other non-governmental organizations, in making plans for a Second International Conference on Tolerance for Diversity of Religion or Belief, scheduled to be held in Warsaw, Poland in 1989.
Bahá’í International Community, 1987 Mar 03, Eliminating Religious Intolerance

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Our Human Family ~ Unity In Diversity

human_family1
First, a few news items about our Human Family:

From the Washington Times: Film casts a chill on family’s future “Already, 90 countries or localities have subpar fertility rates (i.e., below the 2.1 children per woman replacement level), according to the CIA’s World Factbook. Thirty-six have rates less than 1.5.”

From Business World: The free market and morality “…the economic inequality between the north and the south had become more and more an inner threat to the cohesion of the human family, ‘a danger that was no less real than that proceeding from the weapons arsenals with which the East and the West oppose one another’.”

From the Guardsman: Inauguration 2009: ‘Remaking America’ “We need to recognize that the human family isn’t about differences or trying to make everyone be the same, but about just trying again to be more positive. ”

From the Mindanao Examiner: Inter-generational by Fr Roy Cimagala “We cannot help but deepen our respective generational specializations of interest, in all their social and cultural varieties. I suppose this is how things go. We even have to foster the legitimate differences. But we need to learn how to form one organic whole, since in the end we all are one human family.”

If the photo that leads this post “offended” you or made you “uncomfortable” you have a long road to travel toward the realization that our Human Family truly is  an organic whole.

This single realization—the Oneness of Humanity—is the golden key to the resolution of all our global ills. Trace the causes of any of the increasingly menacing crises in our world and you will find one or another form of prejudice by one part of the human family against another part of that same family.

Who would willingly sit down at their family meal and forcibly restrain their children from eating the food, over time watching them starve to death?

This is happening in our global family…

Who would go out and earn a lucrative livelihood then come home and refuse to spend any of that money on certain members of their family?

This is happening in our global family…

Who would bring a dangerous means of producing energy into their home, placing it in an area where they never go but other members of the family must go?

This is happening in our global family…

Who would have children then make sure they receive no education?

This is happening in our global family…

I could go on with examples that seem horrific when considering a single family yet are not being sufficiently protested against or dealt with (even being hidden) by the most affluent members of our Human Family; but, I won’t go on to construct a laundry list of ills—I’ll instead utter a cry for a thorough washing of the Laundry…

Spiritual Quote:

“…when this human body-politic reaches a state of absolute unity, the effulgence of the eternal Sun will make its fullest light and heat manifest. Therefore we must not make distinctions between individual members of the human family. We must not consider any soul as barren or deprived. Our duty lies in educating souls so that the Sun of the bestowals of God shall become resplendent in them, and this is possible through the power of the oneness of humanity. The more love is expressed among mankind and the stronger the power of unity, the greater will be this reflection and revelation, for the greatest bestowal of God is love. Love is the source of all the bestowals of God. Until love takes possession of the heart no other divine bounty can be revealed in it.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í World Faith, p. 218

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Why Can’t The “Experts” Fix The Economy ?

economic_meltdownDid a quick search of Google News for the words “economic meltdown ” and this story jumped out at me:

Women must be included in solving global economic meltdown, UN says
UN News Centre – Feb 6, 2009
“Governments must give women a key role in making decisions aimed at resolving the current global economic crisis…”

A link at the bottom of that article led to:

Women hold key to breaking out of global food crisis “Not only do women suffer the most from global problems, such as the current crisis arising from the surge in food prices, but they can also contribute the most to its solutions, United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro said…”

Together, these articles seem to point toward a solution to multiple global crises  that’s being avoided: Bottom-up and woman-centric

I did a search on the word “Davos “, where a privileged group of mostly males recently admitted their inability to see a solution for the global crisis, and I found an op-ed that also pointed toward women:
From the New York Times: Mistresses of the Universe “Banks around the world desperately want bailouts of billions of dollars, but they also have another need they’re unaware of: women, women and women.”

I’ll leave it to the people with more stamina than I have to work out the details necessary to achieve gender equality in the arena of dealing with global crises…

What I can and will do is to consider women, consult with women, and work with women; and, while doing that, stay as open as possible to learning more about sensitivity, intuition, and compassion.

There are Great Problems that have infected our human family and even with Great Solutions being applied we will still see much more unrest and possibly even Great Revolutions before Peace and Tranquility become the Norm:

Spiritual Quotes:

“Regarding the economic prejudice, it is apparent that whenever the ties between nations become strengthened and the exchange of commodities accelerated, and any economic principle is established in one country, it will ultimately affect the other countries and universal benefits will result. Then why this prejudice?”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í World Faith, p. 288

“Bahá’u’lláh set forth principles of guidance and teaching for economic readjustment. Regulations were revealed by Him which insure the welfare of the commonwealth. As the rich man enjoys his life surrounded by ease and luxuries, so the poor man must likewise have a home and be provided with sustenance and comforts commensurate with his needs. This readjustment of the social economic is of the greatest importance inasmuch as it insures the stability of the world of humanity; and until it is effected, happiness and prosperity are impossible.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í World Faith, p. 240

“The rich will enjoy the privilege of this new economic condition as well as the poor, for owing to certain provisions and restrictions they will not be able to accumulate so much as to be burdened by its management, while the poor will be relieved from the stress of want and misery. The rich will enjoy his palace, and the poor will have his comfortable cottage.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 132

“Strive, therefore, to create love in the hearts in order that they may become glowing and radiant. When that love is shining, it will permeate other hearts even as this electric light illumines its surroundings. When the love of God is established, everything else will be realized. This is the true foundation of all economics. Reflect upon it. Endeavor to become the cause of the attraction of souls rather than to enforce minds. Manifest true economics to the people. Show what love is, what kindness is, what true severance is and generosity. This is the important thing for you to do. Act in accordance with the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh…. Now is the time for you to live in accordance with His words. Let your deeds be the real translation of their meaning. Economic questions will not attract hearts. The love of God alone will attract them. Economic questions are most interesting; but the power which moves, controls and attracts the hearts of men is the love of God.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 239

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