Religion & Human Rights


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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2 thoughts on “Religion & Human Rights

  1. Couldn’t agree more! Take away (or give away) one freedom and you open the door for the take away of any or all others. Obviously, the “freedom” must be such that will not harm or harass those for whom the freedom is objectionable. Here’s a freedom I don’t want to give up or have taken from me! I believe in the freedom, while in my right mind and well informed, to determine when my own death is to my advantage. Presently, in Florida, I don’t have that freedom. I didn’t give it away; it was taken away by those who make up our laws concerning such things. As a pastor I’ve ministered to people in such pain that they’ve begged for help; help none of us could give. In some cases, their doctors sought to help by providing pain relief (medicine) which took away their pain but left them in vegitative forms. In other cases, food was denied them, leaving them to wither away as they starved. Or, a feeding tube was implanted, leaving the person to linger until infection or something else (like a court case) finally takes them. My own mother and father both lingered in nursing homes for months and months, not knowing anyone, bound to their wheelchairs until their bodies finally wore out and gave them some peace. A number of my friends and acquaintances were in such pain toward the end of their lives that they took drastic means to end their suffering; guns, pills, whatever they could get their hands on.
    From the time I was a boy we had animals around the house, dogs, and cats. We loved them. Loved them enough to end their suffering by allowing doctors to “put them down.” Do we not love each other enough to allow the freedom of well thought out, well planned, escape from what eventually happens anyway? Must we give up that “freedom” for the conscience of others? Must we take away that freedom from others simply because we “can’t bear the thought?” Are we so afraid of death that we will do anything to stave it off, even if doing so places great pain and suffering on others? The apostle Paul said: “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” Does that sound so horrible? Not to me!

    • David,

      The issue you bring up is a difficult one for many people.

      My own mother was suffering horribly in her last days until the doctors said they could do nothing to stop her internal bleeding–to forestall further suffering they overdosed her on morphine. I don’t know if that was “legal”–they could have just said they gave her enough to ease her pain and she died anyway–but my father was consulted about “ending it” by the doctors and he agreed…

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