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—

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Your humble observer quickly left the Café before a fist-fight broke out…
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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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Freedom ! ? !

Today is the United States of America’s premier celebration of liberty and freedom.

Had a discussion in my neighborhood coffee shop today about how America is binding it’s citizens into materialistic and corporate and short-sighted captivities—just imagine the poor folk “chained” to their televisions and believing what they see…

Of course, “freedom” and “liberty” can be perceived from the material plane or the spiritual plane.

First, just today, from a New Zealand news source, there’s a story of the joyous liberation of French-Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt—six years in captivity:

“She bathed fully dressed to shield herself from her watchful male captors.

“Asked if they raped her, she said: ‘I have had painful experiences . . . but I don’t want to talk about this here, now at this time of happiness.'”

“Her attempts to escape captivity brought punishments – being chained at the neck, deprived of food and made to trek between camps barefoot.

“In the letter to her mother released last year, she wrote: ‘I’ve tried to keep my head above water, but Mom, I have given up. . . Your daily suffering, and the suffering of everyone, makes death seems like a sweet option.'”

And, on this Western holiday of liberty and freedom, I give you the words of an Eastern man, held captive for 40 years:

“Materially, man is the prisoner of nature; the least wind disturbs him, the cold hurts him, the heat incommodes him, a mosquito irritates him; but when we consider the intelligence of man, an elephant is powerless before him, a lion is his prisoner, and a boy of twelve can lead twelve hundred animals. Man dries up the sea, inundates the desert, circumnavigates the globe, discovers what is under the earth, rides upon the air and creates new sciences. These are the signs of the crowning spiritual power of man—that power which can make nature his prisoner.

“Reflect on the divine forces. What has assembled us together? It is not a material but a spiritual force which has created this bond between our hearts, this attraction and affection for one another—a power stronger than reason, a power which founds nations, creates human unity and makes us renounce the world to discover sciences and organize laws which work through all creatures. Man, the victim of a mosquito, by his spiritual intelligence is conqueror, for by spirit he is completed; he stands upright and gives well-being to humanity.”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Divine Philosophy, p. 95

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~ Unleash The Life Within ~
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So, What Is The Truth ?

I’ve spent quite a bit of time recently doing what that man in the picture could be imagined to be doing–praying…

I’ve finally decided on a definite Direction for this blog.

I don’t wear a tie anymore.

I don’t sit in leather chairs, either.

And, I certainly don’t wish to demean anyone for their clothes or furniture, but to powerfully invoke the Sameness in each of us when we get down to our basic Human Necessities…

Anyone who doesn’t think attention to God and His Scriptures is the way to guide one’s life–whether Hindu, Buddhist, Sabian, Zoroastrian, Jewish, Christian, Islamic, or other Major recipients of God’s Wisdom–might think my change in direction to be less than “profitable”.

What is “Profit”?

I’ll choose an extremely appropriate definition from WordWeb:

“The advantageous quality of being beneficial”

I wish my blog to be beneficial. I wish to provide the clearest indication of TRUTH that I can find. I wish to aid my fellow human beings to the maximal extent of my ability.

So, stay tuned…

I intend to raise the entire discussion to the level of Principle.

I intend to give you the Best information I can find!


Verse One

This post is one in a series. All poems are from my free-to-download book, Is Your Soul In Here ? I’ll keep the series going as long as interest is shown through your comments. If there are enough comments, I’ll publish them in their own post !

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Again?

Creeping up a
Hill of life from a
Valley too well-known;
This time, this
Time reach some
Height not leading
Back to have-to;
This time, this
Time free enough to
See beyond these
Patterns locked in
Self so locked in
Dust.


Ouch… Aha !


As I approach the end of the drug treatment for Hepatitis C, I feel pretty much like that image—fact is, I think it’s perfect.

The main parts of my body, mind, and feelings are sharp and prickly like that desert plant.

My soul and spiritual capacity are, naturally, the lovely flowers—growing right up out of the pain producers.

The following quote is by a magnificent man who passed away in 1921. He spent 40 years in prison for his spiritual beliefs…

“Freedom is not a matter of place. It is a condition. I was thankful for the prison, and the lack of liberty was very pleasing to me, for those days were passed in the path of service, under the utmost difficulties and trials, bearing fruits and results.

“Unless one accepts dire vicissitudes, he will not attain. To me prison is freedom, troubles rest me, death is life, and to be despised is honour. Therefore, I was happy all that time in prison. When one is released from the prison of self, that is indeed release, for that is the greater prison. When this release takes place, then one cannot be outwardly imprisoned. When they put my feet in stocks, I would say to the guard, ‘You cannot imprison me, for here I have light and air and bread and water. There will come a time when my body will be in the ground, and I shall have neither light nor air nor food nor water, but even then I shall not be imprisoned.’ The afflictions which come to humanity sometimes tend to centre the consciousness upon the limitations, and this is a veritable prison. Release comes by making of the will a Door through which the confirmations of the Spirit come….

“The confirmations of the Spirit are all those powers and gifts which some are born with (and which men sometimes call genius), but for which others have to strive with infinite pains. They come to that man or woman who accepts his life with radiant acquiescence.”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in London, p. 120