Limitations on religious rights


Professor Makau Mutua, in a paper of the same title argues that in the human rights corpus, indigenous religions should be protected against the proselytizing religions, that is, Christianity and Islam.

He argues that the two instruments-UN Declaration of Human Rights and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights- need to not only check on government’s encroachment into the private and personal realm but also powerful private institutions in the private realm including established religion.

It is a known fact that these middle Eastern religions spread to the rest of the world either through deceit or force or both combined. In Africa, the two religions sought to and were successful in destroying that which was different leaving the African as neither European nor Arab. He argues they are imperialist in nature, that is, they seek to dominate the whole world.

It his contention, and I agree, that free exercise of religion and belief should find protection within the human rights universe in the context of respect for diversity without giving license to the destruction of other religions and cultures.

It his final submission that the law need to expand to cover indigenous religions. Much may not be done to recover what has been lost but indigenous peoples should be at the forefront in trying to rebuild this information and passing legislation with the aim of protecting indigenous religions and cultures.

Further reading: Limiting religious freedoms

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About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

34 thoughts on “Limitations on religious rights

  1. Arkenaten says:

    To use your own words … Ha ha ha good luck!
    I do not reckon the Pope or any other Christian, let alone the Muslims, will take kindly to being told, ”That’s enough proselytizing!”

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Tish Farrell says:

    One of the most wretched and long-term effects of being missionaryised was that it destroyed /undermined all other cultural structures – leaving people, as you say – neither Europeans or Arabs, plus labouring under an enduring sense of inferiority which also suited/suits the propagandist of whatever doctrine.

    Liked by 5 people

  3. Mak, don’t you get it. Muslims and Christians push their culture and religion onto others because they’re really the bestest-ist, grandest-ist, greatest-ist cultures and religions out there. Hell, those people having said religions pushed onto them are lucky. Geez, get with it already. šŸ™‚

    Liked by 3 people

  4. john zande says:

    If he succeeds, please notify all virus researchers of his recipe.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I don’t know if it’s a good idea for governments to protect superstitions that cross the finish line into cultural acceptance, thereby earning the title of religion. Hell, even in the States, we have non-interference enshrined in our Constitution, and it gets used as a macabre shelter for all sorts of terrible things. Laws almost always have unintended consequences, and protecting one branch of superstitions is playing with a dangerous fire.

    Why can’t cultural expression be separated from local religion? That way, a society can decide which healthy practices it can preserve without having to pay lip service to the potentially harmful beliefs that originally spawned them. It would preserve local customs better than preserving the religion itself, because it wouldn’t involve two superstitious beliefs arguing which one is really super real.

    Liked by 1 person

    • makagutu says:

      What if the culture is intimately tied to the religious? The Africans did not have that chance. You should read the works of the early missionaries. It was either you convert or you convert. And they were followed closely by the colonial administration. It’s also good to know the missionary and the colonialist saw the African as lacking history and culture. It is from this perspective that this is to be read.

      Like

      • I understand the malevolent acts of early (and current, to be fair) missionaries, and that point is well-taken. What I’m getting at is the question of whether the religious protection requires actual religious belief. That is, the shape of such a law needs to be painstakingly crafted. Any misstep could end up having some unintended consequences.

        Like

        • makagutu says:

          Well, I see your point. Where do we draw the line at self determination? Because the missionary things his religion and culture is superior. How do we respond to this?

          Like

  6. renudepride says:

    My Kenyan brother, I agree with you wholeheartedly in your post. All institutions, sacred and secular, should both respect and encourage the cultural institutions of native peoples, whether they agree to those or not. It makes no sense that they should forcefully change what they are unable to control. That what already exists is a power outside of their manipulative abilities is no excuse for what they have already destroyed.

    Greed and the quest for unfettered wealth is not, in and of itself, justification for any of the barbarism that the Christians and Muslims have inflicted on any other culture. These culture wars are no less horrific than any of the military conflicts they cause.

    This is a very profound assessment that you have presented here. It would be even better if the so-called “powers-that-be” whether they be civil or sacred, would heed the message. Naked hugs!

    Liked by 2 people

    • makagutu says:

      Yes, we are totally in agreement

      Liked by 1 person

    • basenjibrian says:

      What if the “native beliefs” demand that an unfavored woman in the village be burned as a witch? I understand where you are coming from, but I also think Sirius makes a good point.

      We should question EVERYTHING. I am nervous about government protection of “beliefs”.

      I find the Pentecostal invasion of South America and Africa disturbing. But to many people in these regions, this New Religion seems to meet a need. I am not sure I would want the government “protecting” the Historic Catholic Culture of Brazil (or the syncretic Afro-Brazilian religions) from challenge.

      Liked by 1 person

      • makagutu says:

        Good question Brian, but you and I know it is Christians who for a long time burned witches. This is not to say there were no societies that could have burned children as sacrifices to rain gods. So the cure here is not proselytizing but education.

        Why should Christianity have unfettered reign? Are its precepts true? On the contrary, Christianity and Islam are destroying cultures leaving people lost for lack of a better word.

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        • basenjibrian says:

          At the same time, why should a government have unfettered reign to decide what is appropriate cultural patrimony to be protected by law? While I despise the history of Christian missionary work, they are not alone. The horrors in Myanmar right now are a cautionary tale.

          Even the sainted Kingdom of Bhutan, held up as an exemplar of “human happiness” based development….they expelled 40% of their population.

          The witch burning was actually inspired by a worse story in tribal Pakistan. The one where the village decided the improper courting of a boy by a lower caste girl should be punished by the village raping the families.

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          • basenjibrian says:

            Plus, your comment somewhat downplays how blood-soaked Central American religious cults were. We are talking piles of skulls.

            Like

          • makagutu says:

            What is going in Myanmar is just depressing. It’s interesting that in 1994 after the Rwandan genocide, world leaders said never again. And now the community of nations watch in silence as it goes on. So yes, we are in agreement caution is advised.

            Like

      • renudepride says:

        I appreciate you posting your thoughts here. Naked hugs!

        Like

  7. jim- says:

    I would at least hope kids could be protected in some way. An adult bookstore of religious inquiry or somewhere you have to seek it out. Not have it persuaded with half truths and pseudo-evidence withholding all the religious dirty secrets. Forcing the Abrahamics underground though would be instant martyrdom. But it’s a start.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Although my pride in being American these days has certainly been shaken to the core, our Founding Fathers did get the Separation of Church and State right, at least in theory. There are two applicable clauses in the U.S. Constitituion’s 1st amendment which must be considered in concert – the Establishment Clause, and the Free Exercise Clause.

    Religious fundamentalists despise the Establishment Clause because it precludes the government from writing any law based on or favoring any religion. Religious opponents do not like the Free Exercise Clause because it guarantees the right to religious practice and expression. The Founding Fathers’ motive and reasoning were responsive to the religious persecution that occurred in Great Britain and from which many American colonists had fled. That crucial point speaks directly to the subject matter of this post.

    The bottom line is this: PEOPLE should be allowed their religious freedom so long as it doesn’t infringe upon the rights of others; and, GOVERNMENTS should be excluded from sanctioning anything of a religious nature.

    Liked by 2 people

    • makagutu says:

      I agree with you. In the case of colonial Africa, the colonial government didn’t give Africans that luxury. The administration was too intertwined with religion, in fact, it is the religion that helped slow down dissent

      Liked by 2 people

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