Monday, March 26, 2012

Reflection on freedom of religion

Earlier this week, as I was about to leave for work in the morning, the door bell rang. Opening the door, I discovered an old couple of missionaries (something like the Jehovah's witnesses) who were speaking only italian! Fortunately, I could understand most of what the old lady was saying. She wanted to give me some literatura about the life of Gesù. What makes the anecdote funny is that they seemed as puzzled as me by the fact that I couldn't (or rather wouldn't) speak italian. I must admit that there are lots of italians in my neighborhood and the previous owner of the house was italian, so I guess they had my address listed as “one of their own”.

This funny anecdote brought me to reflect on the principle of freedom of religion. Hit the jump the read more:

It is already bad that they wake you up on a saturday or sunday morning (when you are distributing a magazine titled “Wake-up” —“Réveillez-vous!” in french; in english it is “Awake!”—you KNOW you are waking people up!), but what those people don't realize is that by peddling their religion door to door they are violating section two of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as well as Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (and maybe the First Amendment to the United States Constitution: the Free Exercise Clause prohibits government from impeding the free exercise of religion but its not clear to me if it applies to individuals) which all guarantee the principle of Freedom of religion.

Clearly the right of an individual ends where the right of another begins: they have the right to practise their religion as long as they don't infrige on my own rights. When they are trying to talk to me about their religion, handling their flyers, they are clearly thinking that my religion is not as good as theirs and therefore disregard and overstep on my own right to freely believe whatever I want. I am entitled to my own belief and don't want to discuss it with anyone.

I believe that religion (whatever it is) is personnal and should happens in only three places: my head, my temple and my home. In this regard, to push it a little further, I find people displaying physical representation of their belief (necklaces, hats, wall decoration, urges to pray or constantly read into their sacred Book, etc.) to be annoying and distasteful. That's my humble belief and you don't have to agree or share any of it.

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