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Religious Rights:

Religious rights are a sensitive topic not only because they involve delicate issues of personal conviction but because the debate does not merely revolve around freedom of religion but also freedom from religion. In any case there are certain threshold conditions for religious rights before liberty in this area can emerge. Pluralism, economic stability and political legitimacy, and willingness of different religious groups to live together are all necessary conditions for religious rights to thrive.

Within a state it is vital that there be some form of diversity or divergence from the norm that is accepted at least to the extent that it is not persecuted. Since religion can be a power force in a society it is important that the political and economic structure be fairly strong so as not be to reduced by a religious regime. Religious liberty is also not possibly unless varying religious groups are willing to live together. This is a particularly difficult issue to iron out in ethnic religious wars. This problem can only be solved if there is a provision within the religions that calls for tolerance.

It is believed by most in the West that separation of church and state is a highly important provision; however, those who disagree do not necessarily believe in the entire negation of freedom of religion. There are varying degrees in which the state and a religion can be related.
As was mentioned earlier, some are seeking not only freedom to practice religion but also freedom from the proselytizing of other religions. There is concern that some religions, namely Christian and Islamic, are considered aggressive religions that require the spread of the doctrine and thus encourage followers to do so personally. These religions, some believe, have had a crushing impact on less aggressive religions of the world such as those that existed in Africa prior to its penetration by these foreign religious concepts. As a result, conversion through economic persuasion destroyed many traditional cultural practices because they did meet the conformity new religion ( 445-486).

*Steiner, Henry J. & Philip Alston. International Human Rights In Context: Law, Politics and Morals. Oxford Press. 2000.

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Copyright © Laura Rowe.