There are certain values that are esteemed universally. Moreover the different religions of the world are deemed to be in support of these values. These human values are several and comprise of such attributes such as peace, respect of human life and dignity, freedom of worship and speech and tolerance.
A human being is valued in the world and should have the right to justice and peace. All people have the right to security and legal recognition. Human rights ensure that the people are protected from arbitrary arrest, detention or exile. As time has passed, there has been an increase in the different religions making it a religious pluralistic world. How do the different religions practice and adhere to these values? Are there times there are contradictions in the way people practice these values?
There are times when religious pluralism in a country causes disagreements in the area of family life. In Australia, there have been Muslims who have desired a sharia court so that they can be granted divorce according to their religion. The national courts are able to give them divorce however they feel they are not adhering to their faith when they do not go to their own court.
Recently, human rights have touched on the freedom of one choosing who they will marry and giving birth. Previously the State had focused on the freedom of speech and expression but there has been conflict in the issue of same sex marriages and abortion especially when it comes to the teenage pregnancies and health risks in abortion.
There has been a shift or a change in the values esteemed in various states especially
when it comes to the family values. Traditionally there was a long process to be followed when one wanted a divorce especially in the Christian set up however the State made it possible for the people to be able to get divorce quickly. There are other contentious issues such as abortion and same sex marriages where the church and the people in other religions have not been in agreement as the clergy perceive the acts to be going against the Christian values (Lupu and Tuttle, 480).
In the traditional Christian set up especially the Catholic churches there has been the expectation that the people will value life and that is why there had been so many debates on abortion before certain countries legalised the process. There was concern that legalising same sex marriages would be a threat to the usual family set up where there is a female male relationship. As time has progressed, the pluralist religious views have caused many to greatly analyse and even question their beliefs when it comes to marriage, divorce and abortion.
It is therefore a tough call for the State to manoeuvre through all these viewpoints.
There are religious people who will not agree to oversee or coordinate same sex marriages or have anything to do it. However at the same time, there can be no discrimination or insensitivity towards these people of different beliefs as it would be going against the universal values of equality and freedom of expression.
It is therefore important for all the people to ensure that they practice the universal values otherwise they will find themselves arrested and paying damages.
Even as most people agree that peace is a great value, there are times that religious
pluralism causes a lot of conflict in the world (Gopin, 15). There have been disagreements and even serious civil wars and conflicts between the Christians and Muslims in African countries such as Nigeria and Sudan.
As much as different governments respect human rights there is also an increase in ethnic and religious conflict. When it comes to issues of religion it touches the core of the person and it gets highly sensitive. The people at times refuse to observe the universal views of human rights and freedom of expression all in the name of defending their religion. The question that remains however is what is more important, defending one’s religion or obeying the rules of the religion which advocate for peace and love with one’s neighbours?
In Islam, there is emphasis on the community and when the religious people teach the people the law, they emphasize that Allah looks at the community and expects the society to be just. The individual’s rights are protected under the society’s collective responsibility. In Christianity especially the protestant faith, an individual is responsible for his actions and is expected to be fair and just.
In the traditional Confucianism religion, the ruler is expected to take care of his subject and manage property matters. If he mistreats his subjects he loses the mandate to rule them which was given to him from heaven.
What about the freedom of worship and speech? In most religions there are certain dressings or ornaments that the individuals wear. It is not a matter of choice but it is an act of religious duty and obedience. The Catholics have the crucifix while the Muslim women have the hijab. In Eastern Europe especially France the wearing of religious symbols in public schools has been prohibited.
Lately, there has been intolerance, xenophobia and great fear towards Muslims. When they wear their religious clothes it is perceived to increase the risk of violence and threats that go against the democratic values and institutions of the State (Danchin, 6). There have been arguments against this view.
When a woman or man wears their hijab it does not mean they are extremists or fundamentalists or they are against the liberal institutions and processes of the state. After the September 11 terrorist attacks, there arose great debate on the issue of racial profiling in the United States as the people felt that the Muslims were being discriminated against and their privacy was being invaded.
The truth is that the people were afraid of their lives and they were concerned that the Muslims did not respect the universal human values of peace and harmony between the people.
If anyone had the highest probability to be a terrorist, he would be an individual of Middle Eastern origin who was a practicing Muslim. There were employers who were hesitant to employ people of Middle Eastern descent. Choosing to act on these feelings however would be wrong since one is not allowed to discriminate against others on the basis of their religion.
One of the universal values in the world is equality when it comes to opportunities. No one should be discriminated when it comes to what they desire to achieve in terms of their work and family because of their religion.
Ever since the terrorist attacks of September 9/11, the Muslim women’s dressing in
Australia has come to be perceived as a form of women’s subjugation instead of the expression of their faith. The French government has the view that wearing religious symbols may infringe upon the rights of others. The freedom of others to worship and express them would be adversely affected. The religious symbols may work to pressure people towards a certain religion. It may also be a channel for propaganda and provocation.
The government is also concerned about the women in the nation. It does not want the occurrence of any event where women and girls are discriminated against. The question however is whether wearing the hijab causes any harm to the girls or the society. They wear the hijab for their own private reasons.
There are values that deal with man’s relationship with others. For leaders, more is expected as they are expected to carry out their responsibility well in the society. They are expected to be accountable and have integrity. These are values that are agreed on by all the people even in the face of increasing religious pluralism. The people are expected to live in peace and harmony respecting each other’s belongings and property (Spickard., 8)
There are people who view democracy as a value that should be upheld. In the countries where there are fundamental Muslims, they may perceive concepts such as democracy as a Western influence which they do not want to be associated with (Esposito and James, 428). There are those values such as democracy which may actually take time to take root in some cultures or religions. There are countries which do not want to be under cultural imperialism.
Even the most repressive cultures however realize the importance of human rights. However they do not want to practice the values under the Western human rights notion. They have chosen to use alternative philosophies of socialism and community development.
When it comes to ensuring that there is harmony and peace, the different governments have been trying to separate religion and the state. Religion should be regarded as someone’s private affair. This is what is known as secularism. It is liberal democracy that is regarded to be the optimal environment where equality can be observed (Norris and Inglehart, 40). However when religion is used as an excuse to attack other people or other countries, it is wrong.
In the 2001 terrorist attacks, President Bush spoke of the fight between good and evil and the way good has to triumph (Aly and Green, 5). There will be no tolerance for the fundamentalists, extremists and radicals who use Islam as an excuse to terrorize the nationals of a different country. The people of America whether Christian, Hindu or Buddhist stood to defend the sanctity of life. The nationalistic unity came to the front to ensure that human lives are respected.
With the rise in religious pluralism, there is increasing growth in secularism where the family values in the religious setting will not be practiced in the country by all the people. There will be a shift towards the universal and political values with a great emphasis on human rights as stipulated by the United Nations. Those religions that encourage contrary beliefs will have a hard time interacting with other countries.
Aly, Ann and Lelia Green. “Less than Equal Secularism, Religious Pluralism and Privilege” Media and Culture Journal, 11.2 (2008), 1-16. Print.
Danchin, Peter. “Suspect Symbols: Value Pluralism as a Theory of Religious Freedom in International Law” The Yale Journal of International Law, 33: (2008)1: 2-61. Print.
Esposito, John and James Piscatori “Democratization and Islam”. Middle East Journal, 45.3 (1991) :427-440. Print.
Gopin, Marc. “Religion, Violence and Conflict Resolution” Peace and Change, 22.1(1997):1-31. Print.
Lupu, Ira and Robert Tuttle “Same-Sex Family Equality and Religious Freedom”. Northwestern Journal of Law and Social Policy, 5(2010): 275-305. Print.
Norris, Pippa and Ronald Inglehart. “Uneven Secularization in the United States and Western Europe” Democracy and the New Religious Pluralism. Ed Thomas. Banchoff. UK: Oxford Publishers. 2006. 31-58. Print.
Spickard, James. “Human Rights, Religious Conflict, and Globalization – Ultimate Values in a New World Order”. International Journal on Multicultural Societies, 1.1(1999): 2-19. Print.