In this modern day and age, one can ponder the beauty of how far humanity and this world has advanced ethically and morally ranging from Emmeline Pankhurst’s fight for women’s rights, Martin Luther King Jr’s activism in civil rights for African Americans, to Nelson Mendela’s advocacy for equality and democracy, and so much more. Where humanity fails are the innate demons of greed, misuse of power, and societal pressures that revert us to conjure harsh injustices such as the oppression and violence towards religion today.
Individuals seek to participate in religion or spirituality as a way of life or identity. It shapes one’s viewpoints in the actions, thoughts, or words they carry out on a day to day basis hence affecting those around them as well. In knowing how connected one’s religion is to their persona, why use it as a means to terrorize and wound?
In looking at a trend from 1975 to 2015, religious conflicts continue to increase as non-religious conflicts decrease due to using religion for politics or as an identity factor in acquiring policies or territory hence affecting the innocent, governmental restrictions, hostilities, and harassment rise in 2016 in which individuals carrying disputing thoughts based on their beliefs are threatened to even killed, to where individuals face persecution in practicing a religion today.
China alone continues to make headlines in their violations for how they treat people who practice a religion and their communistic ideals resulting in injustices and oppressions of one’s right to practice religion in itself. According to a 2020 CSW China Report, low-income Christians risk not receiving state funds unless they stop practicing their religion, landlords are pressured to not rent churches the government doesn’t approve, religious memorabilia are removed and destroyed from churches and private homes, to even religious leaders being arrested.
Furthermore, in the government of Myanmar, it holds onto Buddhism as a driving force in the country’s politics and ethics but also uses it as a means to suppress those who choose to practice a different religion. As a result, the government and security forces continue to suppress such dissident groups such as the Rohingya Muslims who lived there to the point so many Rohingyas fled to neighboring countries from the excessive violence.
A 2019 World Report by the Human Rights Watch report how the Rihingya’s would lack basic rights in health care and food and experience injustices as sexual assaults, killings, individuals disappearing without reason, villages being destroyed to even torture for having chosen Islam as their religion. It reached a point they were forced to receive a National Verification Card that would prove as being deprecating since it did not even give them citizenship. For similar violations of rights, see South Korean church, Shincheonji, which the nation has called a Korean “cult”. Since this claim, the church has faced public hostility, workplace harassment, and domestic abuse. Some have even committed suicide to escape their harsh environments.
If justice includes what is just, hence what is moral and with reason, then with this type of conscience, one should govern and lead against such actions or words that already fall short of this definition.
These are just a few of so many instances of violence towards the concept of having the freedom of religion. If power or public pressures from opinion are what drives decisions, then we must at the very least combat with words of common sense.