According to the Religious Freedom in the World Report 2014 by the Catholic Church’s Aid to the Church in Need organization, freedom of religion has deteriorated in almost half the countries of the world, and sectarian violence is at a six-year high. Yet freedom of religion is one of the basic human rights, as set out in Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. More fundamentally, it was the cause for which the modern world established the concept of human rights in the first place. Revulsion at a century of religious wars in Europe helped spur Enlightenment thinking about the social contract, the moral limits of power, and the centrality of human rights.
The world needs a new, enlightened movement: of people of all faiths working together for the freedom of all faiths. The record of religion in the past, and tragically also in the present, has not been good. Throughout history, people have hated in the name of the God of love, practiced cruelty in the name of the God of compassion, killed in the name of the God of life, and waged war in the name of the God of peace. None of the world’s great religions has been exempt from this at one point or another. The time has come to say””enough.
The challenge is simple and it is posed in the first chapter of the Bible. Can we recognize God’s image in a person who is not in our image; whose color, creed or culture is not our own?