There are around 10 000 distinct religions in the world. This means over 10 000 communities of people that are in solidarity. My biggest question about religion is whether it restricts civil rights? I mean religion is intense, it is a belief of a way of life for most people. We have also seen many instances in history where the advancement of human rights came after the restriction of religion in the state. There have also been many wars because of religion however there have been wars for many things in history, so can we associate religion with wars? To find answers to these questions I will be considering religion on three levels; historical, conceptually and contemporary.
Religion on a historical level has had a big impact on our development of communities, philosophy, and many other concepts. We can see a trend of a relationship between religion and the civil rights movement. Let’s think back to the age of enlightenment. The motto was “dare to know”. It was all about people having their own willpower to make their decisions without being influenced by the church. Along with scientific and philosophical advancement, it was time for political advancement and this was achieved by restricting the power of religion over people. According to the Encyclopaedia of War out of 1763 recorded conflicts in history 123 or 6.98% have been religiously motivated. Some examples of these wars are French wars of religion, the thirty years war, the Israel-Palestine war, the Pakistan-India war, the Syrian civil war, Sudan civil war and so many more. So we can clearly say that history has proven to us that religion can cause conflict. However many things cause conflict would these instances have been any different if there were no such thing as religion? I don’t think this is even a reasonable question since we can never know what would have happened without the belief of a god. Our history may have changed in unimaginable ways.
Is religion individualistic or is it a regulatory framework for human relations and a legal cornerstone? The answer to this question determines the answer to my question; Does religion restrict civil rights? If religion has control over the state we can say that it is restricting civil rights. However, if there is secularism we can fairly say that religion does not interfere with it. Gandhi has said “Those who say that religion has nothing to do with politics do not know what religion means.” however I disagree. Religion can be completely separate from the state and our politics, and I think it should be. Lastly, the contemporary part of the discussion.
I believe when it comes to religion nowadays there are two new anomalies. The first one is fundamentalism. This is basically about going back to the roots of the religion. For example in Islam that would be the Quran. This is an extremist way of thinking and is just not reasonable for our day and age. Another trend is atheism. I believe that atheism is becoming more popular in our society. Which makes sense considering we are being introduced to more cultures and religions and people are realizing they don’t have to believe in what their parents believed in. Overall I believe that religion can be a positive thing for people’s lives as long as it stays within personal relations and does not dictate anything bigger.