H.G. Matsyavatar Das

Monday, 14 February 2011

About religious freedom By Matsyavatara Dasa (Marco Ferrini)

On December 10, 1948 the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Article 18

-Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, consciousness and religion; this right includes freedom to change one's religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest one's religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.-

Article 19

-Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.-

In the last days we were ashamed to hear about the disrespectful behaviour resulted in barbarous acts against Christians, mostly in Countries of Muslim tradition, that caused the death of many people. By witnessing so many frequent episodes of violence, with regards to religious intolerance, more than ever today we feel the moral need to remark a fundamental concept for the human welfare society, to favour its ethical and spiritual development: the importance to respect one’s freedom to seek a religious belief as a civil way of living. Everyone has the right – women and men at the same level – to freedom of thought and expression of one’s own belief or religion. We make a strong and clear claim first of all to our conscience and to the sensitive people who spend time to listen, in order to reject any form of violence and whether possible to promote, to defend and value the respect for practising any form of religion, not only by granting to each individual the possibility to choose in one’s own private life which religion to follow and how. Furthermore to grant the faculty to become a follower of that particular beleif, self-guarding the right to become a witness of that faith, to convey and spread the message in the society we live in, with full respect for the others and for the basic values of living together in a civil society.
Episodes of violence claimed in the name of religion, with the aim to repress a faith different from the one accepted by the majority of the population, appear to us as heavy as those offences made towards us, against our own religious values that attain to our person, because such acts of violence are by far contrary to the essential freedom of every human being.
By repressing the rispectful expression of one’s belief, we deny the principle of religious freedom in itself, which is a fundamental part of a wider concept of individual freedom. As a matter of fact if we lack the freedom to practise spiritual values, what other kind of freedom could we ever talk about?
Freedom on the political and social level without the respect for a religious freedom, that attains to the more intimate and deeper instances of each human being, is considered neither real freedom nor justice. As History may very well teach us, where there is no justice there can never be peace and freedom.
Besides the kind of belief it may concern, each religious fundamentalism is an attack to freedom and to spiritual realization, the same as every exasperated laicizing of spiritual values is an attack to the expression of freedom, of one’s own way of being, feeling and projecting life in accordance to an evolutive and creative purpose.
For this reason, if we really want a better human world, it is essential, today more than ever, to become witnesses and leaders of an authentic expression of religion on the basis of a rightful freedom.

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