Current Religious Intolerance
Despite UN declarations on religious freedom, there is still massive room for improvement in some countries.
Current religious intolerance in North America
- Wars: Religious intolerance is a driving force behind many of the world's armed conflicts and centers of civil unrest, an example is: Protestants vs. Roman Catholics in Northern Ireland
- Muslims, vs. Roman Catholics vs. Serbian Orthodox in the former Yugoslavia
- Christians, Jews, and Muslims in the Middle East
- Aboriginals, Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs in India
- Christians and Muslims in East Timor, currently occupied by Indonesia
- Christians and Muslims in the southern Philippine islands
- Hindus and Muslims in Sri Lanka
- Christians and Muslims in Sudan
- Missionaries: Religious missionaries are severely persecuted in some areas of the world. Most victims are Christians; most perpetrators are federal governments. (2)
- Conversion: Some countries have declared that a religious conversion from the state religion to another belief system is a criminal act, sometimes punishable by death. These laws appear to be most frequently found in Muslim countries.
Some examples of current Intolerance:
There has been much progress in the past decades
- In 1986, Senator Jessie Helms (R, NC) introduced a bill in Congress to remove tax exempt status from existing Wiccan groups and prevent any new groups from being recognized. It never made it out of committee.
- Family court judges in the U.S. and Canada occasionally discriminate in custody matters against the parent of minority, high demand faith groups, such as Jehovah's Witnesses.
- Various attempts have been made to modify the constitution in order to permit prayer in the public schools. This would have students recite prayers of the dominant religion. Students who follow minority religions would be given the options of either violating their own beliefs or risk later harassment and violence from other students.
The constitutions of the US and Canada guarantee religious freedom to all citizens, yet many hurdles remain to be overcome:
- With the repeal of oppressive laws, Native Americans are now able to conduct their traditional ceremonies.
- The exclusion of Jews from membership in golf clubs and similar organizations is much less common than in the past.
- A person no longer has to believe in the existence of a personal deity in order to be a conscientious objector to military service. (However, the Canadian government only extends charitable status to religious groups if they teach a belief in a God.)
- Some local ministerial organizations now include non-Christians.
- J.F. Kennedy became the first Roman Catholic President of the US. The religious faith of the Prime Minister of Canada seems to be of little interest to anyone. (We suspect he is a Roman Catholic).
- Ritual consumption of peyote during some Native American rituals is permitted.
- Native Elders are now generally given the same rights as Christian and Jewish clergy during prison visits
- Roman Catholic children are no longer taught that Protestants will go to eternal punishment in hell when they die; most Protestant children are no longer told that all Roman Catholics will go to hell.
Some Random Examples of Intolerance
- Atheists are denied certain fundamental rights in some States
- Children are occasionally seized from homes because of some social workers' misunderstanding of their parents' religion.
- Parents are denied access to their children because of some judges' beliefs about the parents' faith.
- Leaders of some faith groups (e.g. Neopagan) are not recognized as clergy during prison visitation
- Some faith groups are not allowed to perform marriages. A common method of exclusion is for state or provincial governments to require the group to have been in existence for long periods before their clergy can marry people.
- The Socialist premier of the province of British Columbia in Canada refused on religious grounds to authorize election papers for a candidate nominated for the Provincial Legislature. Threatened with a lawsuit that he could not possibly win, he apologized for his act of bigotry.
- Followers of certain faiths are only able to celebrate their rituals safely in certain areas of North America. They fear persecution and attacks by Christians who misunderstand their gentle, earth based faith. These include Wiccans, Druids, and other Neopagans. Much of this hatred is based upon a beliefs held over from the Inquisition.
Some of this intolerance is quite repulsive, and included:
We find this result to be curious and self-defeating for conservative Christians. On one hand, they are committed to fulfilling the Great Commission which is to preach the Gospel to all the world. At the same time, they are broadcasting so much hatred against various groups that many "non-believers" are becoming resistant to the message.
- a call for the Federal Government to exterminate all followers of a specific faith group
- a statement that the leaders of a certain religion were plotting to kill all of Christian leaders in America
- a statement that it is the goal of a particular non-Christian to give all Americans two choices: to convert immediately to their religion or have your head chopped off
- that followers of a particular faith group routinely torture and kill babies, and commit other unspeakable crimes.