Saturday, September 22, 2012

Is there a spike in religious restrictions?

According to a recent post on the CNN Belief Blog there may be a rise in restrictions on religion. I don't buy it. At least, not in the US. A couple of the examples/areas cited in "Spike in religious restrictions in U.S. and world, Pew Center finds" actually seemed to indicate something quite different.

"The study does however take into account a 'number of reports involving people who were prevented from wearing religious attire, like beards, in the judicial settings and prison,' he said.
There were also more reported restrictions on zoning permits to expand or build religious centers."

To interpret the above as an indication of "restriction"* you would first have to make an assumption that indicates the opposite. Namely, you would have to have jumped to the conclusion that religion should get special treatment and/or should be allowed exceptions the rest of our institutions and organizations are not allowed. Are we not suppose to abide by rules, regulations, and laws regardless of our personal opinions and preferences? There is nothing that automatically indicates the above dress code and zoning rules is meant for religion alone. By the basic standards of society they are not being singled out or persecuted. If your company has decided you can't have a beard because it looks unprofessional, which I find offensive in terms of individual right, should a religious person be allowed to disregard it just because they are religious? No! If the rules or laws are unfair/unjust they should be challenged and hopefully eliminated. If they are not unfair or have sound reason for existing then everyone should abide by them. That means everyone!

The notion that we are restricting religion simply by not allowing them a special privilege or exception is ludicrous. This is just an example of how skewed society's perception is when it comes to religion.

*In all fairness, I should mention that part of the problem is due to previous standards of behavior. A rising level of "restriction" is true when compared to prior reports. That is not to say that they should continue to be viewed as actual restrictions. The fact that religion has gotten away with ignoring the rules by which the rest of us are expected to live does not make it right or acceptable. Pew does an excellent job in terms of social research. I am in no way trying to belittle or dismiss the work they do. The biases I occasionally find in their reports is merely a reflection of the norms of our society.

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