European Interreligious Forum For Religious Freedom

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Speech given the 16 October 2013 in Brussels at the Seminar "Freedom of opinion, religion and belief — Persecution of, and discrimination against, minority-groups" Organized by EIFRF with the partnership of
• The Gerard Noodt Foundation for FoRB
• UNITED SIKHS
• Pro Europa Christiana
• Soteria International
• CAPLC Europe
• FOREF Europe
• EMISCO


Spain before religious minorities: learning from our mistakes
By Juan Ferreiro Galguera
Full professor of Ecclesiastical Law at University of Coruna
Former D/Director General for Promotion and Protection
of Religious Freedom at the Spain Ministry of Justice.


In this speech I am going to talk about three things. First, I will refer to the constitutional principles that should be respected in any kind of State-Church relations. Second, how these principles have been implemented by administrative acts regarding religious minorities. And third, I will show two examples of good practices concerning legal recognizing of religious minorities which we had learned from two previous mistakes.

Art. 16.1 of Spanish Constitution recognizes the fundamental right of religious freedom for individuals and groups and remarks that the only limits of Religious Freedom are those necessary for the maintenance of public order protected by law.

Law 7/1980 of Religious Freedom have implemented this concept of limits, enshrining two kinds:

1) Respect for the fundamental rights of others and

2) Public Order, a legal concept which has 3 dimensions: public security, public health and public morality

According to the Constitution, all the relationships between the public powers and religious groups should be developed in a metaphorical area formed by two coordinates:
-       the principle of non confessional State (in Spanish, laicidad o aconfesionalidad)
-       the principle of cooperation.

In other words, all relations between public authorities and denominations should take into account those two tenants.
 
1.    The principle of non confessional state, which comes from a constitutional declaration (“No religion shall have State Character” –art. 16.2 of Spanish Constitution-), is based on two pillars:
 
a)    Separation between churches and State.
This concept means that Churches and State are independent & autonomous entities. In other words, neither State nor churches can intervene in the own sphere of the other.
Separation means that State cannot interfere in the realm of religious groups. As an example, public authorities cannot tell Catholic Church how to organize or if women should be priests or not. This subject is competence of the religion.

But at the same time, separation also means that denominations cannot intervene in the own sphere of the State. In other words, religious groups cannot assume roles of the State. As an example, no church can pretend that its morals or its dogmas became automatically laws (that´s competence of the Parliament). Catholic Church has statements regarding abortion. But what is legal or not is established by the Parliament. Another example, in Spain, there are not anymore sits reserved for bishops in the Congress of Deputies, as it used to be in Franco´s Dictatorship. Even though, as we all know, nowadays there are still sits reserved to bishops in the House of Lords of the United Kingdom.

Nevertheless, we shouldn’t mistake Separation principle with Freedom of expression. Many people confuse them. A confession can criticize the government policy or its laws. That isn’t interfering in State´s fields. That is just expressing an opinion which is a manifestation of Freedom of speech.

b)    Neutrality of the State before religions.
It means that State is not competent in religious affairs. Public powers  cannot practise any faith nor asses the legitimacy of a religious dogmas. This is only competence of individuals and communities, which are the only holders of the fundamental right of religious freedom.   

State Cannot determine which group is a real religion and which is a fake one or a Sect. Among other things, because this term is not a legal concept It´s just a sociological one. So the State cannot be neither confessional, nor atheist, or laicist (For as an “estado laicista” is an State which has prejudices towards confessions, treating them worst than to any non religious groups. The State should be neutral (in other words, non confessional or “laico”)

We should underline that there is a difference between: a “laicist” State (“laicista”) and “laico” or “secular” (or “non confessional”) State.

A “laicist” State (or any of its public manifestation: a “laicist” law, sentence or municipal declaration) is an State which has prejudices against denominations, treating them worse than to other groups. In the other hand, a “laico State” (non confessional, or secular) is a State which has not prejudices against religions and it is neutral before religions.

2.    With regard to the Principle of Cooperation, the Constitution gives two mandates to the public authorities:
-       To take into account the religious beliefs of the Spanish population
-       To maintain the resulting relations of cooperation with the Catholic Church and other denominations.

It doesn’t mention specific ways of cooperation, but so far, the main instrument of cooperation have been signing cooperation Agreements with religions that have been classified as “deeply or firmed rooted” by the ministry of Justice (Advisory Commission on Religious Freedom).

As we have just said before, all the relations between State and churches should respect these two principles. Those affairs should be developed in a metaphorical area formed by those 2 coordinates or tenants: principle of non confessional state (secular state) and principle of cooperation.

Lets see how they should be implemented in one specific field: Recognition of religious groups

In Spain we have a Register of Religious Entities under the Ministry of Justice.

To be entitled to the fundamental right of religious freedom, groups do not need to adopt any special legal form. But they have the option to enroll in the Register of Religious Entities if they fulfill these requirements:

- presenting notice of the foundation or establishment in Spain
 
- Its Entity name (appropriate to be distinguished from any other religious group) and its address.
 
- Internal norms about organization and their representative bodies
 
- Declaration of religious purposes
 
Once registered, the group is recognized by the State as a denomination, and this recognition entails some extra rights.
 
Best practices of Spain before applications to enroll the Register of Religious Entities.
 
According to the already mentioned principles, the State (Register of Religious Entities) should act before these requests from a position of ideological neutrality. Sometimes we didn´t but at the end we have learned from our mistakes. I am going to refer to 2 typical errors which ended in 2 examples of good practices, thanks to the help of the Constitutional Court
 
a) a former wrong attitude: Theological temptation of the State:

Sometimes the State assumed the role of a maximum cleric: deciding whether a group is or not religious. it used to do so, having in its unconscious mind the paradigm of  traditional religions (basically, the paradigm of monotheistic denominations (Judaism, Islam, Christianity).

An example: when Church of Unification or Scientology first demanded to be enrolled in the Register of Religious Entities, not only them but also some judges answered that their purposes were not religious but philosophical. So, the judge said that they were not a religious group but a philosophical one.
 
Correction of that thesis made by the Spanish Constitutional Court

State cannot do a MATERIAL CONTROL, in other words, It cannot control the legitimacy of religious believes (this is a real religion, this is a faked one, a sect, etc.).
Coming from the public powers, this attitude is against the principle of Neutrality (State cannot value or asses religious dogmas, cause this is competence of individuals and communities, which are the only holders of that Fundamental Right). 

Besides, according to the official interpretation of Human Rights Committee, the term “religion” should be broadly construed so that it is not limited to traditional religions or similar. From this authorised point of view, religious freedom protects:

§  theistic, non theistic and atheistic beliefs  

§  new established religions

§  those followed by a minority of people

State´s role before an application to enter the Register is just to do a FORMAL CONTROL, in other words, to control if a group fulfills the legal requirements (already mentioned). The most troublesome is expressing their “religious purposes”. Regarding this requisite, the State should make an “Act or Faith”, presuming the group believes in what they say they believe …unless there are solid proofs regarding criminal purposes (example: fraud…) of this groups
 
b) Another former wrong attitude: Temptation of Prejudice
 
When the State echoes prejudices (clichés, stereotypes) existing in the society. For example: “this group abducts its followers...”
 
Correction from the Constitutional Court.
According to this Tribunal, charges are to be proved before Court. Evidences (not rumours) are needed to condemn. You cannot criminalize any institution for crimes committed by some of its members, as long as this crimes are not a purpose of the group.  For example you cannot criminalize Catholic Church because crimes committed by some clerics (sexual harassment).
In this logic, Scientology went through a long criminal trial in Spain, accused of many crimes, but at the end it was acquitted of all of them.
 
Thad doesn’t mean that State has no any control over religious groups. If the State (for example the Register of Religious Entities) suspects that a group uses methods or seeks for illegal goals, they should stop the process of registration and send the case to the Judge. But, only if they are sentenced guilty, the refusal to register is acceptable.
 
Why is important being registered in the Register of Religious Entities?

It is important, mainly for two reasons. The enrolled groups not only enjoy of legal recognition of its religious character from the State but they also have extra rights, among others, once they have obtained the classification of  “Deeply or firmly rooted” in Spanish society they can sign Cooperation Agreements  with the Spanish State.

So far the State has signed Cooperation Agreements:
-       With Catholic Church in 1979 (it is also a international Treaty,
-       With the other 3 denominations which have obtained the “deeply rooted declaration” : Muslims, Protestants, Jews (these Agreements have been passed as ordinary Laws (Laws 24,25,26 of November 10th  1992)
 
According to the Spanish law we can distinguish among 4 types of denominations from a legal perspective:

o   Non registered religions
 
o   Registered denominations (enrolled in the Register of Religious Entities)

o   Registered and classified as “deeply or firmly rooted” by the Advisory Commission on religious freedom (so far: Jehovah Witnesses, Buddhism, Mormons and Christian Orthodox. 
 
o   Denomination with Cooperation Agreements: Catholic Church, Muslims, protestants and Jewish. 

Rédigé par Juan Ferreiro Gualguera le Friday, October 25th 2013 | Comments (0)

Freedom of opinion, religion and belief
Persecution of, and discrimination against, minority groups
16 October 2013 – Renaissance Hotel – Brussels


Press release: A cause for concern in Europe
 
On 16 October 2013, European Interreligious Forum for Religious Freedom (EIFRF ) organized an event in partnership with UNITED SIKHS, Federation Pro Europa Christiana, European Muslim Initiative for Social Cohesion (EMISCO ), Coordination des Associations et des Citoyens pour la Liberté de Conscience (CAPLC Europe ), Forum for Religious Freedom (FOREF ) and Soteria International. The room was packed. The main reason for the meeting was to provide information on repressive policies used against religious minorities in Europe as well as the danger of letting these practices contaminate the rest of Europe. Speakers also addressed the need to raise awareness on human rights standards with regards to religious freedom and highlighted good practices that exist in Europe.
 
UK MEP Godfrey Bloom started with an introductory speech that focused on the brotherhood of all human beings, whatever religion they belong to. Then the Moderator, Father Aelthwine of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of Europe, introduced the first panel, which included Eric Roux (Steering Committee of EIFRF), Bashy Quraishy (Secretary General EMISCO – Strasbourg and Chairman of the Advisory Council European Network Against Racism – Brussels), Jasvir Sing (United Sikhs International) and Paul Herzog Von Oldenburg (Coordinator: International Federation, Pro Europa Christiana).
 
The speakers described the French model of dealing with religions from many angles, focusing on the treatment of minority groups, sometimes describing their own very personal experiences on this topic. They also warned the audience against the stated intention of some French anti-religious extremist groups to export the French model to the rest of Europe. Citing Austria, Germany, Belgium and Russia as being amongst the countries that also have a tendency to discriminate against religious minorities they alerted the international community to the pitfalls of copying the French model.
 
As his final remark, Bashy Quraishy stated: My great wish is that the world should be based on satisfying the needs of all, instead of some. I want a world where many different cultures and religions live in harmony, where human beings are judged by the strength of their character and kindness of their hearts and not by the colour of their skin or by the name of their religion.”
 
After a Q&A session with the attendees the second panel took the floor. It was composed of Patricia Duval (Attorney at Law – Specialist in European and international Human Rights law), Juan Ferreiro Gualgueira (Full Professor of Ecclesiastical Law at University of Coruna,  Former D/Director General for Promotion and Protection of Religious Freedom at the Spain Ministry of Justice), Alessandro Amicarelli (PhD, Attorney at Law of the Bar of Italy and Law Society of England and Wales - Doctor of Research in International Order and Human Rights) and Hans Noot (President of the Gerard Noodt Foundation - Member of the board of the ICRLS ).
 
These experts described the good practices that exist in some European countries regarding the fair treatment of religious minorities, as well as the European and International jurisprudence on freedom of religion or belief.
 
They all insisted on the fact that no religion should be discriminated against by the State, small or large, old or new, whether appearing different from “traditional religions” or not, or even if being considered as a “sect” in certain countries. States should never assume the right to assess the legitimacy of religious beliefs, nor to engage in campaigns against certain religious movements as has happened in some countries.
 
In his final remark, Hans Noot stressed the social aspect of discrimination based on religious affiliation in Europe, noting that even when law takes into account the protection from discrimination, discrimination does not disappear. Amongst other proposals, he stated: “We could make a difference if we, united, propose and advocate public announcements and programmes that advocate a more open acceptance of different religions and their viewpoints, as well as welcome their contributions to the betterment of society. We would improve the communities and nations that we live in (…) What I am proposing is not to try to convert people to a religion or a political party. What we want to achieve is a society with people who value integrity and tolerance towards other organizations and respect for people of different persuasion than theirs.”
 
The various interventions and videos of the event will soon be available on http://www.eifrf-articles.org/
 
EIFRF is an unincorporated forum whose board is composed of religious leaders from wide range of different faiths and various countries, united to promote freedom of religion and beliefs, religious tolerance and knowledge of religions throughout Europe. For more information go to www.eifrf.org
 
Email: eiforumrf@gmail.com

Rédigé par EIFRF le Tuesday, October 22nd 2013 | Comments (0)

Speech given the 16 October 2013 in Brussels at the Seminar "Freedom of opinion, religion and belief — Persecution of, and discrimination against, minority-groups" Organized by EIFRF with the partnership of
• The Gerard Noodt Foundation for FoRB
• UNITED SIKHS
• Pro Europa Christiana
• Soteria International
• CAPLC Europe
• FOREF Europe
• EMISCO


Enhancing  Freedom of Religion or Belief  in the EU

By Hans Noot

President of the Gerard Noodt Foundation
Member of the board of the ICRLS
 
Problems in the EU?
 
Participating in platforms that deal with Human rights in the EU, I often wondered if fighting for Freedom of Religion or Belief, for which my organization stands, is really the most worthy of all causes. After all, I hear of problems amongst the Roma Gypsies, Cyber security, problems with the ability for governments to pay pensioners their hard earned wages, liberation of the LBGT’s and their quest for recognition of legal marriage, rampant and increasing child abuse, a seemingly thriving sex industry and slave trade, secularization and a change of moral standards as shown in the latest collapse and chaos in the financial sector.
 
One wonders if the EU really has issues regarding Freedom of Religion or Belief. Some even claim that we should focus on Syria, Africa or Asia. This quest has made me travel throughout the Middle East, participating in peace initiatives there, and to Tajikistan where we tried to persuade Civil Society of a so-called secular nation with 95% Muslims that torture is an unacceptable violation of human rights and there should be separation between not only State and Religion, but also between the Judiciary and Politics. It has caused me to do research regarding Freedom of Religion in Japan and Korea, and I have travelled extensively throughout Europe, Eastern Europe and the Balkans. And the answer is: “YES, even we in the EU have concerns with Freedom of Religion or Belief that need to be dealt with. Let me give you a cross-view of some of the issues that I have observed.
Examples:
 
·               Many young religious immigrants are fleeing Greece back to their homeland because they face implicit and explicit persecution from some individuals and groups who consider them outside the acceptable main stream of Greek Religious or Cultural norms. And it is not just Golden Dawn that drives them out; it is lack of social acceptance towards non-Greeks that drives Golden Dawn, enhanced by the fright of Greeks to lose their precious few jobs to non-Greek Nationals. Currently, religious proselyting for non-Greek Orthodox people in Greece has become a dangerous sport.
 
·               Poles, Czechs and Slovenians are condemned and kicked out of the family when they are converted to a faith other than that of the local religious tradition. I have personally seen several Young Single Adults being put on the streets because they joined another faith. Interesting enough, the parents are often not believers of their own faith themselves, but feel obliged to defend the traditions of their forefathers.
 
·               Many Northern Germans, Scandinavians and Finns find it difficult to find or keep a job if they do not belong to the Lutheran tradition. In Belgium and other states the same is true if one is not of the Catholic persuasion.
 
·               In many countries people are afraid of Muslims and Jews. Anti-Semitism and Islam phobia is rampant throughout the EU.
 
·               Gay movements have been ousted by many Religious organizations and are trying to find ways to lobby for greater equality.
 
·               Humanists in Great Britain complain when they hear of Religions growing and progressing in various locations throughout the EU. In actuality, Humanists should be working together with individuals and groups who believe in religious freedom.
 
·               The headscarf issues in France are not just about head scarfs and Hijabs, but an expression of fear of change to traditional French societal norms because of influences from immigration. This same fear of change to traditional society exists in many countries in Europe.
 
So far, most of the remedies currently advocated in the EU promote legal solutions based on constitutional laws. Each nation subscribes to the UN’s Declaration of Human Rights, which includes Freedom of Religion or Belief. Each EU nation has laws in place, and many cases go higher up to Strasbourg, where they seem to be more than 110.000 cases behind.
 
Throughout Europe government institutions within individual countries try to deal with the issue. And the European Parliament has its own watchdog in the form of the Fundamental Rights Agency, which is trying to do a marvelous job, considering the enormous problems we face. Regularly I participate in their consultations, and I know how hard it is. So, no, not all is well in Zion. There is a long way to go. In my few remaining minutes I would like to propose a different type of remedy which could work in conjunction to the legal solutions. For, after all, research shows that nations in which it is safe to have and share opinions, flourish, whereas nations that subdue individual feelings, pay a heavy toll in social and economic welfare[1]. Much can be said on the need and blessings of Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Religious- and other Beliefs. Most likely, were I to tell you about it, I would be preaching to the choir; I think most, if not all, are already persuaded of its need for Freedom of thought and the freedom of Religion and freedom of Speech. But here are just a few arguments for having Freedom of Religion or Belief:
 
·               It is a Human Right ! ! ![2]
 
·               For the purpose of social health, we need particularly a diversity of religions just as much as we need diversity of culture and diversity of thought and diversity of creativity and the arts[3]. The diversity colors our lives and our society from black and white and grey’s to a whole spectrum of beauty and wisdom.
 
·               If we remove the rights of man to dictate according to their conscience, we also take away their responsibility for their own actions[4], and we bring their wrongdoings upon the controlling governments.
 
·               Is freedom of religion or belief any different from the freedom to choose which preferences and role models we prefer in society, such as movies, movie stars, music, music stars, sports clubs, financial guru’s or sports clubs?
 
·               Freedom of Religion is much like freedom of Journalism. Sometimes we do not like what they say, but the fact that they say it and can say it, says something about us as listeners.
 
·               The question is not which religion is true, or which religion should we turn away from, but what value does this religion or belief add to society, and what does it do for the individual who believes in it? Think of how values are taught through religions, such as human dignity and human warmth, the need for inner-peace, respect for the other, self-worth, the importance of human individuality and diversity. And if religions do not traduce (transfer) these values anymore, who are we going to ask to take over? The schools, the Media, the Government, parents?
 
FoRB defined
 
In my examples of problems in the EU you might have noticed that there are a few issues at stake here.
 
There is the issue that we talk about Religions, as institutions that are either the victims or culprits of Freedom of Religion or Belief.
 
Then there is the whole matter of so called “Religiosity” of individuals – or in other words, the opinions or religious beliefs of persons. Whether or not these beliefs relate a religious belief in the spiritual sense of the word, or beliefs in a secular way, or in the way of gender attraction, should not matter. In other words, whether or not the belief is of a religious or spiritual or traditional nature, or on a social front, should not make any difference. All should be respected and have equal voice unless those views violate the principles of human rights set out in the UN Declaration of Human Rights.
In my research as an anthropologist I have found that much of the intolerant attitudes within Europe are in large part actually caused by main-stream churches. The causes can be described as follows:
 
Some religions are afraid to lose their power connection with social and civic leadership. Often money is involved and their influence in a modern world diminishes due to a louder cry for separation between Church and State.
 
Some religions are dramatically losing their sheep to either other religious movements or to a secularizing society. Much of that has to do with individuals becoming more intellectual and less spiritual; orthodox answers towards scientific findings and social values (such as evolution, the dates of the creation of the earth, tolerance towards abortion, the use of anti-conceptive- and anti-HIV drugs, etc.) appear less satisfying or even unsupportable.
 
Much of the growing secularization deals with a shift in the involvement and control of education. In the past, some churches were dominant in the education world, as well as in the religious world. People were educated in their schools during the week days, influenced in their churches during the weekend, and much of social life revolved around the church in the center of the village. That has changed, and in most of the churches in Western Europe, the pews are empty.
 
The loss of this pervasive influence is strong, and it seems that the main-stream religious organizations find it difficult to reinvent themselves and adjust to their new role in a modern secular Europe. Because, the major Religious institutions have been at the root of theophobia in Europe in the past, many in society now often over-react to the past power of these churches and would deny these churches the opportunity to contribute to society in appropriate and helpful ways.  
 
Remedies
 
1.    Color the landscape
I would propose to use the strength of religious organizations as they are needed in the social landscape. What’s more, I would suggest that the greater the diversity of religions decorating society, the healthier and wealthier it becomes, both socially and economically, as long as influential religious institutions maintain high levels of democratic participation.
 
2.    Strengthen and respect the Watch dogs
The watch dogs, like the Fundamental Rights Agency and the countless NGO’s in the field that put up red flags when something goes wrong, need to receive due attention. They do their research, write their articles and books, and organize conferences such as these. They are the standard bearers, and their work is invaluable. Let’s keep giving them our support.
 
3.    Re-invent the role of religion within society
Furthermore, I would suggest putting pressure on countries that still strongly sponsor religions financially and decreasing their sponsorship over the coming years--letting them find their own niche in society, without political support or support from the tax offices. That applies to a lot of countries within the EU, from Germany to France, and especially Eastern European nations and the Balkans. There is a role for religions and religious movements and other organizations with a strong belief system. But we need to rethink their relationship to democratic governments and what roles they should play in a democratic society.
 
4.    Judicial protection
As you can tell from my argumentation there is another way to tackle Freedom of Religion or Belief besides the legal way. It is true that we need to keep utilizing the legal entities that protect all forms of Human Rights. The courts, the police apparatus and other social institutions need to keep working on discrimination, hate-speech, and the abuse of the weaker groups of society. In fact, more work needs to be done on equal right protection in the work place, and protection of children in the homes. More protection for the disabled, etc., etc.. These issues require money, experts and lots of attention.
 
5.    Separation between government roles and religious roles
In some states, like Belgium, the law states that there must be religious education in schools. At first glance this sounds nice for religious people. But this approach causes some difficulties that defeat its purpose. The first is that school education is a government role, whereas religious education is a role that should be done by the religions. In Belgium the natural consequence is that the state, therefore, provide funds for religions to do their teachings. But the enormous number of religions that would apply for these funds make it undoable. The remedy they came up with is that only 6 major religions would be allowed as umbrella organizations that can provide religious education. Any religion that wants to teach religious education, must register under any of these six allotted religions. This particular remedy causes that most other religions do not want to register under any of these six. A Bahai, for example, is neither protestant, nor catholic, nor Jew, and certainly not Moslim. Not only can they not teach religion in school, but they can also not register as an accredited religion. This Belgian case is one of several problems that is caused by the state mingling in religious affairs, and vice versa. We could give examples of the French state providing church building support for Catholicism, or for their financial support to anti-cult organizations such as MIVILUDES. There should be an even clearer separation between Church and state.
 
6.    Social Debates
 Freedom of thought and expression, though, does not belong in the courts, except where society has failed. This issue should not belong to Strasbourg in France, but on the streets of Europe. The problem is primarily a social mind set, not a legal one. So long as someone cannot talk to his neighbor because he is a member of another Church, or if someone has to hide in a closet because of his deep inner convictions, or has to flee his family or his nation because of his affiliation to a different religion, the law has done him only limited good. Much of the intolerance we face cannot be protected by law. So, we need to promote societal changes that encourage and support the legal protections already in place.
 
7.    Intervention within our cultural way of thinking
 
Cultural changes are increasing in speed
Europe is rapidly losing its national, cultural, traditional and religious boundaries, and we will see more and more of a melting pot. The internet and more people speaking or communicating in English on the Internet is one of the drivers. But also think of the influence the open borders of Romanians, Bulgarians, Albanians and other nations will have over the coming years. There will be a great influx of people from poor European Countries to nations with a greater socio-economic welfare system. Over the coming years we will see a stronger Europe focusing on what’s happening within our own EU border. If we are not careful we will measure more oikophobia (fright of the great world around us), while what is really needed is more of a global village feeling. We do not need to participate in destructive levels of religious competition.  Admittedly, some levels of competition do push us all to refine our efforts and therefore contribute to the amelioration of society, but too much creates disharmony and animosity. Coopetition--in which we all work towards the eradication of poverty, global warming, the population crunch, economic disaster, and even abuse of human rights--on the other hand, could lead to greater success for all. Each social group has their own strengths and weaknesses in these areas. We need to learn to not just tolerate others, but to respect them and work together as nations, as religious groups, and as individuals, regardless of race, creed, gender attraction, cultural or traditional background.
 
Controlling cultural changes
We could make a difference if we unitedly propose and advocate public announcements and programs that advocate more open acceptance of different religions and their viewpoints, as well as welcome their contributions to the betterment of society, we would improve the communities and nations that we live in.  Just think how much influence the media has over the minds of our people. And how about the opinion of our school teachers and our politicians and our professors? How much influence do News-Carriers have, and Advertisement Agencies? Marketing experts are continually working on changing people’s preferences, thinking and behavior into commercialism. What I am proposing is not to try to convert people to a religion or a political party. What we want to achieve is a society with people who value integrity and  tolerance towards other organizations and respect for people of different persuasion than theirs. Just as much as governments of Sovereign States respect each other, in spite of their differences, so we want social institutions to respect each other and individuals to respect governments, politicians and parents. The question, of course is how do we do it?
 
Fund Projects
My proposal would be to continue to move government funds away from Religious Institutions and anti-religious movements[5] to projects that enhance tolerance of beliefs – whatever their kind. This is a new way of thinking that requires more input. It is pro-actively helping society think better about the direction we have been heading in the past. So what I am proposing is that the Euros will be more and more focused on projects that promote tolerance and Respect-Speech. Think of projects that promote tolerance education in schools, such as the so-called Toledo Project of the OSCE [6]; adjusting the school curriculum to include training on the content and practical use of the Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations; youth activities that teach diversity thinking; Radio-TV-Social Media spots that show the roots, the differences and the consequences of hate speech, vs respect speech. Think of moviemakers and song writers that write appealing scripts that make people think about the issue. How about municipal debates, newspaper columns, or religions that take initiatives to listen to the so called “other”? What if universities find ways to promote the debate, and receive some funding for these projects? My proposal would entail to not fund the organizations that come up with these projects, but to have these organizations put forward their proposals, which, after approval from the EU are funded. A budget is then allotted to the project according to their projected and anticipated success. We could organize project contests. The objective of it all is to make it appealing for organizations or groups to enhance the advantages of human tolerance and respect for each other. I imagine that the churches could play a major role in this, as the word “love” is preached from every pulpit. Yet, at the same time, much love is not lost for those who are not of their faith. That needs to change.
 
8.    Certification as a supporter of Human Rights
Let’s make it attractive for religious groups and people of other convictions to want to sign up to all of the elements of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. Organizations that that do are more likely to behave in accordance to the law of the land and do not pose much of a danger. As a consequence, they will be more easily trusted and they will more likely receive financial-aid for their Human Rights Projects. This will strengthen the idea that NGO’s will not fight each other in a dog fight for the right to be heard above other well needed colleagues, but they will recognize that ALL of the articles of Human Rights are needed, and that we all need each other to eradicate discrimination based on Gender, Gender Attraction, Religious- or other Beliefs, Affiliation, or whatever is unnecessary and destructive in a free Europe – free in more than just freedom from oppression or bondage, but free to think and act within the law.
 
 
[1] The Central Liberal Truth, Laurence E. Harrison, p 36-37
[2] United Nations Declaration on Human Righs, Articles 18-20
[3] A Terrible Beauty, Peter Watson; Essay on Civilizations and their discontents
[4] See arguments on Gerard Noodt in 16th Century.
[5] Like MIVILUDES in France and FECRIS in Austria, France, Russia, etc.
[6] http://www.osce.org/odihr/49220
 


Rédigé par HANS NOOT le Sunday, October 20th 2013 | Comments (0)

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