Religious Freedom

1. Struggle for Religious Freedom and success in it

Today, religious freedom is threatened in many countries in one form or another. But the most flagrant examples are the communist countries. In these countries, there is a system­atic attempt to destroy not only civil and political liberties but religious liberty as well. It is most unfortunate. Let us hope that the rulers of these countries will realize their mistake and reverse the process. Religion is not an opiate of the people; on the contrary, it represents a very important dimension of life and is one of the noblest expressions of the spirit. Religion brings a fulfilment for which there is no other substitute. To suppress religion is to maim the life of a people.

But religious intolerance is no monopoly of communism. It is unfortunate but true that religious intolerance has been practised by some religions themselves. There have been crusades; there have been religious versions of the “wars of liberation” practised by modern communist states; there has been heresy-hunting, bitter and bloody and often accompa­nied by mob violence and official persecution. In many cases, there was even genocide, a whole people decimated. In other cases, there was a systematic vandalism and a systematic and continuing persecution of local cultures and religions till not even their memory remained. In fact, intolerance has been such a common and important part of some religions that communism too is regarded as a religion on that account by some thinkers.

But thank God, people of Europe and America today have won the battle for religious freedom, and for the right to worship in their own ways. This right, this freedom, this tolerance towards others is a great value and it has been won at a great sacrifice.