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Freedom of religion is considered by many people and most of the nations to be a fundamental human right. Freedom of belief is different. It allows the right to believe what a person, group or religion wishes, but it does not necessarily allow the right to practice the religion or belief openly and outwardly in a public manner. Historically, freedom of religion has been used to refer to the tolerance of different theological systems of belief, while freedom of worship has been defined as freedom of individual action.

Nevertheless, freedom from religion is a far more pressing moralistic, legal, and peaceful solution. Each of these have existed to varying degrees. While many countries have accepted some form of religious freedom, this has also often been limited in practice through punitive taxation, repressive social legislation, and political disenfranchisement. Compare examples of individual freedom in Italy or the Muslim tradition of dhimmis , literally "protected individuals" professing an officially tolerated non-Muslim religion.

In Antiquity , a syncretic point of view often allowed communities of traders to operate under their own customs. When street mobs of separate quarters clashed in a Hellenistic or Roman city, the issue was generally perceived to be an infringement of community rights. Cyrus the Great established the Achaemenid Empire ca.

Some of the historical exceptions have been in regions where one of the revealed religions has been in a position of power: Judaism, Zoroastrianism , Christianity and Islam. Others have been where the established order has felt threatened, as shown in the trial of Socrates in BC or where the ruler has been deified, as in Rome, and refusal to offer token sacrifice was similar to refusing to take an oath of allegiance. This was the core for resentment and the persecution of early Christian communities.

Following a period of fighting lasting around a hundred years before AD which mainly involved Arab and Jewish inhabitants of Medina then known as Yathrib , religious freedom for Muslims, Jews and pagans was declared by Muhammad in the Constitution of Medina. The Islamic Caliphate later guaranteed religious freedom under the conditions that non-Muslim communities accept dhimmi status and their adult males pay the punitive jizya tax instead of the zakat paid by Muslim citizens.

Religious pluralism existed in classical Islamic ethics and Sharia , as the religious laws and courts of other religions, including Christianity, Judaism and Hinduism , were usually accommodated within the Islamic legal framework, as seen in the early Caliphate , Al-Andalus , Indian subcontinent , and the Ottoman Millet system.

Dhimmis were allowed to operate their own courts following their own legal systems in cases that did not involve other religious groups, or capital offences or threats to public order. According to the famous Islamic legal scholar Ibn Qayyim — , non-Muslims had the right to engage in such religious practices even if it offended Muslims, under the conditions that such cases not be presented to Islamic Sharia courts and that these religious minorities believed that the practice in question is permissible according to their religion.

Despite Dhimmis enjoying special statuses under the Caliphates, they were not considered equals, and sporadic persecutions of non-Muslim groups did occur in the history of the Caliphates. Ancient Jews fleeing from persecution in their homeland 2, years ago settled in India and never faced anti-Semitism.

Freedom to practise, preach and propagate any religion is a constitutional right in Modern India. Most major religious festivals of the main communities are included in the list of national holidays.

Many scholars and intellectuals believe that India's predominant religion, Hinduism , has long been a most tolerant religion. The Dalai Lama , the Tibetan leader in exile, said that religious tolerance of 'Aryabhoomi,' a reference to India found in the Mahabharata , has been in existence in this country from thousands of years. Religious tolerance is inherent in Indian tradition," the Dalai Lama said. One of King Ashoka's main concerns was to reform governmental institutes and exercise moral principles in his attempt to create a just and humane society.

Later he promoted the principles of Buddhism , and the creation of a just, understanding and fair society was held as an important principle for many ancient rulers of this time in the East. The importance of freedom of worship in India was encapsulated in an inscription of Ashoka:.

King Piyadasi Ashok dear to the Gods, honours all sects, the ascetics hermits or those who dwell at home, he honours them with charity and in other ways. But the King, dear to the Gods, attributes less importance to this charity and these honours than to the vow of seeing the reign of virtues, which constitutes the essential part of them. For all these virtues there is a common source, modesty of speech.

That is to say, one must not exalt one's creed discrediting all others, nor must one degrade these others without legitimate reasons. One must, on the contrary, render to other creeds the honour befitting them. On the main Asian continent, the Mongols were tolerant of religions. People could worship as they wished freely and openly. After the arrival of Europeans, Christians in their zeal to convert local as per belief in conversion as service of God, have also been seen to fall into frivolous methods since their arrival, though by and large there are hardly any reports of law and order disturbance from mobs with Christian beliefs, except perhaps in the north eastern region of India.

Freedom of religion in contemporary India is a fundamental right guaranteed under Article 25 of the nation's constitution. Accordingly, every citizen of India has a right to profess, practice and propagate their religions peacefully. In September , the Indian state of Kerala 's State Election Commissioner announced that "Religious heads cannot issue calls to vote for members of a particular community or to defeat the nonbelievers".

Even today, most Indians celebrate all religious festivals with equal enthusiasm and respect. Most Roman Catholic kingdoms kept a tight rein on religious expression throughout the Middle Ages. Jews were alternately tolerated and persecuted, the most notable examples of the latter being the expulsion of all Jews from Spain in Some of those who remained and converted were tried as heretics in the Inquisition for allegedly practicing Judaism in secret.

Despite the persecution of Jews, they were the most tolerated non-Catholic faith in Europe. However, the latter was in part a reaction to the growing movement that became the Reformation. As early as , John Wycliffe in England denied transubstantiation and began his translation of the Bible into English.

He was condemned in a Papal Bull in , and all his books were burned. Not entirely trusting in his safety, he made his will before he left. His forebodings proved accurate, and he was burned at the stake on 6 July The Council also decreed that Wycliffe's remains be disinterred and cast out. This decree was not carried out until After the fall of the city of Granada , Spain, in , the Muslim population was promised religious freedom by the Treaty of Granada , but that promise was short-lived.

In , Granada's Muslims were given an ultimatum to either convert to Christianity or to emigrate. The majority converted, but only superficially, continuing to dress and speak as they had before and to secretly practice Islam.

Martin Luther published his famous 95 Theses in Wittenberg on 31 October His major aim was theological, summed up in the three basic dogmas of Protestantism:. In consequence, Luther hoped to stop the sale of indulgences and to reform the Church from within. After he refused to recant, he was declared heretic. He was excommunicated by Papal Bull in However, the movement continued to gain ground in his absence and spread to Switzerland.

Huldrych Zwingli preached reform in Zürich from to He opposed the sale of indulgences, celibacy, pilgrimages, pictures, statues, relics, altars, and organs. This culminated in outright war between the Swiss cantons that accepted Protestantism and the Catholics. The Catholics were victorious, and Zwingli was killed in battle in The Catholic cantons were magnanimous in victory. The defiance of Papal authority proved contagious, and in , when Henry VIII of England was excommunicated for his divorce and remarriage to Anne Boleyn, he promptly established a state church with bishops appointed by the crown.

This was not without internal opposition, and Thomas More , who had been his Lord Chancellor, was executed in for opposition to Henry. In , the Swiss canton of Geneva became Protestant. In , the Bernese imposed the reformation on the canton of Vaud by conquest. They sacked the cathedral in Lausanne and destroyed all its art and statuary. John Calvin , who had been active in Geneva was expelled in in a power struggle, but he was invited back in The same kind of seesaw back and forth between Protestantism and Catholicism was evident in England when Mary I of England returned that country briefly to the Catholic fold in and persecuted Protestants.

However, her half-sister, Elizabeth I of England was to restore the Church of England in , this time permanently, and began to persecute Catholics again. The King James Bible commissioned by King James I of England and published in proved a landmark for Protestant worship, with official Catholic forms of worship being banned.

In France, although peace was made between Protestants and Catholics at the Treaty of Saint Germain in , persecution continued, most notably in the Massacre of Saint Bartholomew's Day on 24 August , in which thousands of Protestants throughout France were killed. A few years before, at the "Michelade" of Nîmes in , Protestants had massacred the local Catholic clergy. Bohemia present-day Czech Republic enjoyed religious freedom between and , and became one of the most liberal countries of the Christian world during that period of time.

The so-called Basel Compacts of declared the freedom of religion and peace between Catholics and Utraquists. The privileged position of the Catholic Church in the Czech kingdom was firmly established after the Battle of White Mountain in Gradually freedom of religion in Bohemian lands came to an end and Protestants fled or were expelled from the country. In the meantime, in Germany Philip Melanchthon drafted the Augsburg Confession as a common confession for the Lutherans and the free territories.

It was presented to Charles V in Each state was to take the religion of its prince, but within those states, there was not necessarily religious tolerance. Citizens of other faiths could relocate to a more hospitable environment. In France, from the s, many attempts to reconcile Catholics and Protestants and to establish tolerance failed because the State was too weak to enforce them. It took the victory of prince Henry IV of France, who had converted into Protestantism, and his accession to the throne, to impose religious tolerance formalized in the Edict of Nantes in Intolerance remained the norm until Louis XVI, who signed the Edict of Versailles , then the constitutional text of 24 December , granting civilian rights to Protestants.

The French Revolution then abolished state religion and confiscated all Church property, turning intolerance against Catholics. Calvinism, however, was prohibited. Calvinism was included among the accepted religions in However, it was more than a religious tolerance; it declared the equality of the religions, prohibiting all kinds of acts from authorities or from simple people, which could harm other groups or people because of their religious beliefs.

The emergence in social hierarchy wasn't dependent on the religion of the person thus Transylvania had also Catholic and Protestant monarchs, who all respected the Edict of Torda.

The lack of state religion was unique for centuries in Europe. Therefore, the Edict of Torda is considered as the first legal guarantee of religious freedom in Christian Europe. Act of Religious Tolerance and Freedom of Conscience: If not, no one shall compel them for their souls would not be satisfied, but they shall be permitted to keep a preacher whose teaching they approve.

Therefore none of the superintendents or others shall abuse the preachers, no one shall be reviled for his religion by anyone, according to the previous statutes, and it is not permitted that anyone should threaten anyone else by imprisonment or by removal from his post for his teaching. For faith is the gift of God and this comes from hearing, which hearings is by the word of God. Four religions Catholicism , Lutheranism , Calvinism , Unitarianism were named as accepted religions religo recepta , having their representatives in the Transylvanian Diet, while the other religions, like the Orthodoxs , Sabbatarians and Anabaptists were tolerated churches religio tolerata , which meant that they had no power in the law making and no veto rights in the Diet, but they were not persecuted in any way.

Thanks to the Edict of Torda, from the last decades of the 16th Century Transylvania was the only place in Europe, where so many religions could live together in harmony and without persecution.

This religious freedom ended however for some of the religions of Transylvania in After this year the Sabbatarians begun to be persecuted, and forced to convert to one of the accepted religions of Transylvania. Also the Unitarians despite of being one of the "accepted religions" started to be put under an ever-growing pressure, which culminated after the Habsburg conquest of Transylvania , [36] Also after the Habsburg occupation, the new Austrian masters forced in the middle of the 18th century the Hutterite Anabaptists who found a safe heaven in in Transylvania, after the persecution to which they were subjected in the Austrian provinces and Moravia to convert to Catholicism or to migrate in another country, which finally the Anabaptists did, leaving Transylvania and Hungary for Wallachia, than from there to Russia, and finally in the United States.

In the Union of Utrecht 20 January , personal freedom of religion was declared in the struggle between the Northern Netherlands and Spain. The Union of Utrecht was an important step in the establishment of the Dutch Republic from to Under Calvinist leadership, the Netherlands became the most tolerant country in Europe.

It granted asylum to persecuted religious minorities, such as the Huguenots, the Dissenters, and the Jews who had been expelled from Spain and Portugal. When New Amsterdam surrendered to the English in , freedom of religion was guaranteed in the Articles of Capitulation. It benefitted also the Jews who had landed on Manhattan Island in , fleeing Portuguese persecution in Brazil. Intolerance of dissident forms of Protestantism also continued, as evidenced by the exodus of the Pilgrims, who sought refuge, first in the Netherlands, and ultimately in America, founding Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts in William Penn , the founder of Philadelphia, was involved in a case which had a profound effect upon future American laws and those of England.

In a classic case of jury nullification, the jury refused to convict William Penn of preaching a Quaker sermon, which was illegal. Even though the jury was imprisoned for their acquittal, they stood by their decision and helped establish the freedom of religion.

The statute served as the basis for the legal position of Jews in Poland and led to the creation of the Yiddish -speaking autonomous Jewish nation until The statute granted exclusive jurisdiction of Jewish courts over Jewish matters and established a separate tribunal for matters involving Christians and Jews.

Additionally, it guaranteed personal liberties and safety for Jews including freedom of religion, travel, and trade. The statute was ratified by subsequent Polish Kings: Poland freed Jews from direct royal authority, opening up enormous administrative and economic opportunities to them.

The right to worship freely was a basic right given to all inhabitants of the future Polish—Lithuanian Commonwealth throughout the 15th and early 16th century, however, complete freedom of religion was officially recognized in during the Warsaw Confederation. Polish—Lithuanian Commonwealth kept religious freedom laws during an era when religious persecution was an everyday occurrence in the rest of Europe.

Most of the early colonies were generally not tolerant of dissident forms of worship, with Maryland being one of the exceptions.

For example, Roger Williams found it necessary to found a new colony in Rhode Island to escape persecution in the theocratically dominated colony of Massachusetts.

The Puritans of the Massachusetts Bay Colony were the most active of the New England persecutors of Quakers , and the persecuting spirit was shared by Plymouth Colony and the colonies along the Connecticut river. Freedom of religion was first applied as a principle of government in the founding of the colony of Maryland, founded by the Catholic Lord Baltimore , in The Maryland Toleration Act was repealed during the Cromwellian Era with the assistance of Protestant assemblymen and a new law barring Catholics from openly practicing their religion was passed.

This time, it would last more than thirty years, until [52] when, after Maryland's Protestant Revolution of , freedom of religion was again rescinded. Catholics and later on Jews also had full citizenship and free exercise of their religions. Williams gave the most profound argument: As faith is the free work of the Holy Spirit , it cannot be forced on a person. Therefore, strict separation of church and state has to be kept.

It was the inseparable connection between democracy, religious freedom, and the other forms of freedom which became the political and legal basis of the new nation. Reiterating Maryland's and the other colonies' earlier colonial legislation, the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom , written in by Thomas Jefferson , proclaimed:.

Those sentiments also found expression in the First Amendment of the national constitution, part of the United States' Bill of Rights: The United States formally considers religious freedom in its foreign relations.

The International Religious Freedom Act of established the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom which investigates the records of over other nations with respect to religious freedom, and makes recommendations to submit nations with egregious records to ongoing scrutiny and possible economic sanctions.

Many human rights organizations have urged the United States to be still more vigorous in imposing sanctions on countries that do not permit or tolerate religious freedom. Freedom of religion in Canada is a constitutionally protected right, allowing believers the freedom to assemble and worship without limitation or interference.

Canadian law goes further, requiring that private citizens and companies provide reasonable accommodation to those, for example, with strong religious beliefs. The Canadian Human Rights Act allows an exception to reasonable accommodation with respect to religious dress, such as a Sikh turban , when there is a bona fide occupational requirement, such as a workplace requiring a hard hat. This declaration recognizes freedom of religion as a fundamental human right in accordance with several other instruments of international law.

However, the most substantial binding legal instruments that guarantee the right to freedom of religion that was passed by the international community is the Convention on the Rights of the Child which states in its Article In , the UN's human rights committee declared that article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights "protects theistic, non-theistic and atheistic beliefs, as well as the right not to profess any religion or belief. Despite this, minority religions still are persecuted in many parts of the world.

The French philosopher Voltaire noted in his book on English society, Letters on the English , that freedom of religion in a diverse society was deeply important to maintaining peace in that country.

That it was also important in understanding why England at that time was more prosperous in comparison to the country's less religiously tolerant European neighbours. Adam Smith , in his book The Wealth of Nations using an argument first put forward by his friend and contemporary David Hume , states that in the long run it is in the best interests of society as a whole and the civil magistrate government in particular to allow people to freely choose their own religion, as it helps prevent civil unrest and reduces intolerance.

It is this free competition amongst religious sects for converts that ensures stability and tranquillity in the long run. Smith also points out that laws that prevent religious freedom and seek to preserve the power and belief in a particular religion will, in the long run, only serve to weaken and corrupt that religion, as its leaders and preachers become complacent, disconnected and unpractised in their ability to seek and win over new converts: The interested and active zeal of religious teachers can be dangerous and troublesome only where there is either but one sect tolerated in the society, or where the whole of a large society is divided into two or three great sects; the teachers of each acting by concert, and under a regular discipline and subordination.

But that zeal must be altogether innocent, where the society is divided into two or three hundred, or, perhaps, into as many thousand small sects, of which no one could be considerable enough to disturb the public tranquillity. The teachers of each sect, seeing themselves surrounded on all sides with more adversaries than friends, would be obliged to learn that candour and moderation which are so seldom to be found among the teachers of those great sects.

Hinduism is one of the more broad-minded religions when it comes to religious freedom. Hindus believe in different ways to preach attainment of God and religion as a philosophy and hence respect all religions as equal.

One of the famous Hindu sayings about religion is: However, Judaism also exists in many forms as a civilization, possessing characteristics known as peoplehood, rather than strictly as a religion.

However, these laws are not adhered to anymore as Jews have usually lived among a multi-religious community. After the conquest of the Kingdoms of Israel and Judea by the Roman Empire, a Jewish state did not exist until with the establishment of the State of Israel.

For over years Jewish people lived under pagan, Christian, Muslim, etc. As such Jewish people in some of these states faced persecution. In the Middle East, Jews were categorised as dhimmi, non- Muslims permitted to live within a Muslim state. Even though given rights within a Muslim state, a dhimmi is still not equal to a Muslim within Muslim society, the same way non-Jewish Israeli citizens are not equal with Jewish citizens in modern-day Israel. Possibly because of this history of long term persecution, Jews in modernity have been among the most active proponents of religious freedom in the US and abroad and have founded and supported anti-hate institutions, including the Anti-Defamation League, the Southern Poverty Law Center and the American Civil Liberties Union.

Jews are very active in supporting Muslim and other religious groups in the US against discrimination and hate crimes and most Jewish congregations throughout the US and many individual Jews participate in interfaith community projects and programs. While the Israel Declaration of Independence stresses religious freedom as a fundamental principle, in practice the current [ timeframe?

However, as a nation state, Israel is very open towards other religions and religious practices, including public Muslim call to prayer chants and Christian prayer bells ringing in Jerusalem.

Israel has been evaluated in research by the Pew organization as having "high" government restrictions on religion. The government recognizes only Orthodox Judaism in certain matters of personal status, and marriages can only be performed by religious authorities. The government provides the greatest funding to Orthodox Judaism, even though adherents represent a minority of citizens.

Women of the Wall have organized to promote religious freedom at the Wall. Rabbi Joel Levy, director of the Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem, said that he had submitted the request on behalf of the students and saw their shock when the request was denied.

According to the Catholic Church in the Vatican II document on religious freedom, Dignitatis Humanae , "the human person has a right to religious freedom", which is described as "immunity from coercion in civil society".

The Syllabus was made up of phrases and paraphrases from earlier papal documents, along with index references to them, and presented as a list of "condemned propositions".

It does not explain why each particular proposition is wrong, but it cites earlier documents to which the reader can refer for the Pope's reasons for saying each proposition is false. Among the statements included in the Syllabus are: Some Orthodox Christians, especially those living in democratic countries, support religious freedom for all, as evidenced by the position of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

Many Protestant Christian churches, including some Baptists , Churches of Christ , Seventh-day Adventist Church and main line churches have a commitment to religious freedoms. However others, such as African scholar Makau Mutua , have argued that Christian insistence on the propagation of their faith to native cultures as an element of religious freedom has resulted in a corresponding denial of religious freedom to native traditions and led to their destruction.

As he states in the book produced by the Oslo Coalition on Freedom of Religion or Belief, "Imperial religions have necessarily violated individual conscience and the communal expressions of Africans and their communities by subverting African religions.

In their book Breaking India , Rajiv Malhotra and Aravindan Neelakandan discussed the "US Church" funding activities in India, such as the popularly advertised campaigns to "save" poor children by feeding, clothing, and educating them, with the book arguing that the funds collected were being used not so much for the purposes indicated to sponsors, but for indoctrination and conversion activities.

They suggest that this nexus of players includes not only church groups, government bodies, and related organizations, but also private think tanks and academics.

Joel Spring has written about the Christianization of the Roman Empire:. Christianity added new impetus to the expansion of empire. Increasing the arrogance of the imperial project, Christians insisted that the Gospels and the Church were the only valid sources of religious beliefs. Imperialists could claim that they were both civilizing the world and spreading the true religion. By the 5th century, Christianity was thought of as co-extensive with the Imperium romanum.

This meant that to be human, as opposed to being a natural slave, was to be "civilized" and Christian. Conversion to Islam is simple, but Muslims are forbidden to convert from Islam to another religion. Certain Muslim-majority countries are known for their restrictions on religious freedom, highly favoring Muslim citizens over non-Muslim citizens.

Other countries [ who? Even other Muslim-majority countries are secular and thus do not regulate religious belief. Thus, this supports the argument against the execution of apostates in Islam. However, on the other hand, some Muslims support the practice of executing apostates who leave Islam, as in Bukhari: In Iran, the constitution recognizes four religions whose status is formally protected: Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Among the most contentious areas of religious freedom is the right of an individual to change or abandon his or her own religion apostasy , and the right to evangelize individuals seeking to convince others to make such a change. Other debates have centered around restricting certain kinds of missionary activity by religions.

Many Islamic states, and others such as China, severely restrict missionary activities of other religions. Greece, among European countries, has generally looked unfavorably on missionary activities of denominations others than the majority church and proselytizing is constitutionally prohibited. A different kind of critique of the freedom to propagate religion has come from non-Abrahamic traditions such as the African and Indian. African scholar Makau Mutua criticizes religious evangelism on the ground of cultural annihilation by what he calls "proselytizing universalist faiths" Chapter Proselytism and Cultural Integrity, p.

At any rate, I hope this is helpful. They also took all my styrofoam coolers the ones that hams etc. Good news We here in Galveston will be able to recycle Styrofoam at the local recycling center by Earth day they have just ordred a machine to reduce it will keep you posted when its up and going. Press release in re sale here: They still take Styrofoam but I have no idea the procedure. I work for an Austin based high end grocer and we have a courier pick up our Styrofoam boxes in which seafood comes to deliver to HDI.

I am in need of a solution for recycling a few truckloads of Styrofoam coming from Laredo. Does anyone know of a local solution for the material? Went to HDI today in Austin to recycle a lot of styrofoam and they are closed due to electrical problems.

Houston now has 2 Environmental service centers that take solid block styrofoam. All block styrofoam must be in clear plastic bags. We also take cans and glass bottles.

HDI Plastics in just stopped taking styrofoam- ugh!!! Calling or e-mailing them would be best- I get an e-mail response back very quickly! Any body knows if there is a company that picks up?

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