Is religion private or public? - Maxicours

Is religion private or public?

  • Découvrir un aspect de la notion d'étude espace privé et espace public.
  • Approfondir sa réflexion sur la religion comme composante de la vie privée ou de la sphère publique.
Points clés
  • La liberté de religion est un droit humain fondamental et les gens sont autorisés à pratiquer leur culte quelle que soit leur croyance.
  • L'intolérance croissante d'une partie de la population pousse les gens à cacher leur appartenance à une religion... mais à l'inverse, il est tout aussi anormal de discriminer une personne parce qu'elle est athée.
  • Cette intolérance est paradoxale : les enseignements premiers de toute religion sont le respect et la tolérance !
  • Les religions sont devenues un sujet taboue car générateur de tensions, et ce même dans les pays où une séparation entre l'Église et l'État a eu lieu.

Freedom of religion is a fundamental human right and people are allowed to worship whichever god or deity they choose whatever the place they live in. Therefore, each individual or community can manifest their religion in teaching or in practice, publicly or privately and cannot be persecuted for their thoughts or beliefs.

But we may wonder if behind the words reality is not a little different.

1. From the Public Sphere...
a. Intolerance is a Danger

If practicing a religion is allowed and encouraged in most countries, atheists should not be singled out because refusing to submit to a religious belief is a way of expressing one’s convictions, too. When former President George W. Bush said:

I don’t know that atheists should be regarded as citizens, nor should they be regarded as patriotic. This is one nation under God.

he was dangerous for a small part of the population who were being stigmatized by his statements. And such words lead people to think that they can have an opinion about someone else’s beliefs and openly criticize them. If we imitated Bush we could say that Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Muslims... are not citizens but we would not become more intelligent, and we would of course be wrong.

This is probably because of such remarks that people nowadays refuse to say they have a religion or which religion they belong to. People have become more and more intolerant and this is quite paradoxical as religion is supposed to teach respect, understanding and tolerance. So, what used to be commonly accepted in the past fifty years is now banned from our conversations and religious topics are now debated in private. Where all religions should unite and work together to make a better world, they stand against each other firmly believing in their own superiority.

b. Religious Conflicts

Another reason why religion is becoming more and more a private issue is because it is often associated with wars and conflicts. In Belfast, Northern Ireland, Catholics and Protestants were separated by a wall during the Troubles and thousands of people died because they were enemies and stood firm on their demands for years and years on. Even though wars of religion have always existed, they are now passed continuously on television and social networks and it is difficult to ignore the consequences of fanatics who kill for their beliefs whereas one of the most important principles of religion is:

Thou shall not kill.
2. the Private Sphere

It is thus easy to understand why it is difficult to share publicly what you think as far as religion is concerned and people prefer to remain silent rather than express views that could condemn them. Fortunately, even in countries where church and state are separated, worshippers can manifest their religion in churches, mosques, synagogues... without running the risk of being ill-treated because they are protected by law. Freedom of religion is an unalienable right which must be respected.

3. Conclusion

Like politics, religion is a matter which has become taboo because it generates tensions between people. And though people should feel safe when dealing with religion, they do not and prefer expressing their views in private so as not to be harmed. They have a tendency to close in on themselves whereas it would be a win for everybody if they opened themselves up to others.

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