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Exploring Religious Freedom

January 7, 2010

The 2010 Social Justice Challenge is underway, and this month’s topic is Religious Freedom. There is more information here.

Welcome to the Social Justice Challenge 2010 everyone! I’m more excited about this challenge than any other because I sincerely hope it will be life changing for all involved. I have long wanted to focus more of my reading on what matters and I hope that this challenge helps us to not only learn but take action on what we’ve learned.
To start things off on this month focusing on Religious Freedom, I thought it would help if we confronted our feelings about the subject. Below you’ll find a few questions that you should feel free to answer either on your own blog (and leave a link in the Mister Linky) or in comments. We have so much learning that we can do just from each other.

I have started perusing other participants’ posts, and I love the variety of people involved in this challenge, exploring their thoughts on religious freedom. I have seen a devout Christian, an atheist, and many others. I am really excited about this discussion and what each person is bringing to the table.

What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of religious freedom?
Religion and spirituality come in many forms, but it should always nurture love and compassion. This is the core teaching of virtually every religion. When religion becomes a vehicle for controlling people or robbing them of essential freedoms, or if it’s used to justify prejudice or hatred, it is not rooted in God.

The freedom to practice ones faith, or to have no faith, should be everyone’s birthright. And when a government imposes religion on its people, not only does it restrict the freedom of people with different beliefs and practices, it oppresses the believers. For example, in Reading Lolita in Tehran Azar Nafisi wrote about a woman who was firm is her traditional Islamic faith. This lady had always worn a burqua as a mark of her belief. After a fundamentalist Islmaic regime seized control of Iran, head coverings were mandated by law. This violated this lady’s faith. She had always worn a burqua voluntarily to show her devotion to Allah. Now that this practice was forced upon her, it lost its meaning.

What knowledge do you have of present threats to religious freedom in our world today?
We enjoy great religious freedom in this country, and we have the luxury of taking it for granted. This is not true in many parts of the world, where “faith” is an instrument of government control.

Have you chosen a book or resource to read for this month? (If not don’t worry, I’ll be updating the resource list this week)


Why does religious freedom matter to you?

It is a fundamental right of every human being, and without it, we can’t make progress toward achieving justice and peace. And if a person follows a religious path, it needs to be chosen freely and mindfully, without fear.

NOTE TO READERS: The comment links on my new template are a bit confusing. Many of the comments on this post are actually referring to this article on the GLBT  (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered) reading challenge.

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