Religion is a system of Faith and Worship. It is also a belief in a personal God. These faith and Belief bind him or her to/stay in tune with God whereby human being can establish a perfect state of God-realisation.
In every religion of the world, good act, love, good thoughts and forgiveness etc are the prime axioms. Any sort of evil act (sin) or evil thoughts is abhorrent to all religions. No matter to whatever religion one may belong, it is not wrong to accept the good precepts of any religion. For example, The Gita says, “A student (human) should have the only aim of study or God-realisation because ‘determinate intellect is one pointed’. Gita 2/41 (Quoted from the Book, Be Good authored by Swami Ramsukhdas). The Quran says, ‘Except those who are (Real1y) weak and oppressed – Men, women and children who have no means, in their power, nor can they find a way (to escape) (Koran: Surat An-Nisaa 4:98).
The Bible says, ‘Love your neighbour as thyself Mt.19:19). The Common belief is found in every religion such are the good precepts to be practised and encouraged, perhaps, it is indeed unbearable to concur with the belief or faith which contradicts one’s belief. For instance, Christians are strictly not allowed to worship any carved image or idol. The Bible says, “you shall not make for yourself any carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them…(Exo.25:4,5). But Idol or image worship is an important part in Hinduism. Here the question arises, can the majority group force the minority to follow their belief? Should the minority group (Christians) propagate their belief to non-Christians for conversion through inducement or by giving alms? Neither imposition nor inducement should be the means for propagation of religious belief. Freedom of religion does not mean doing anything that violates freedom of conscience. Yes, freedom of religion allows to propagate different belief and faith. In as much as the propagation is concerned, it should be carried out through persuasion and dialogue between the groups. Because no imposition is employed in this method. But rather this opens the wide door or every religion and every person to choose after having convicted decision of what to follow between.
No doubt, for Christianity propagation, in another word preaching is an inevitable commission, because this commission is given by Christ himself. And this had been followed from the Ist century down to this present century. No face on earth can ban this commission. But for this reason, many were tortured, burnt alive and imprisoned.
The emergence of Islam was in progress during the Medieval period of Indian history. This was done either by propagation and imposition under the imperial power. Lakh of Hindus were forced to adopt Islam. Their temples and Idols had been destroyed. This religious intolerance act took place mostly during the reign of Feroze Tughlak. Mention can be made of Budhism which spread across India and many people of Asian countries accepted it willingly. So also with the case of Manipuris, when the then Maharaja accepted Hinduism from the preaching of Santidas, many Manipuris abandoned Sanamahi.
History gives an example of religious tolerant and religious intolerant. It was in the Medieval period of India, a harmonious fraternity, unity and love flourished albeit there were different sects of religion. When there was hostile attitude between the Muslim and the Hindus, the Bhakti movement calmed down the feeling of enmity.
God has given freedom of thinking as the best gift. Liberty of conscience — the greatest right is to be respected. It must not be threatened.’ Let every human enjoy the freedom conscience (religion).
There was a period of time in the bygone days when the liberty of conscience was forcefully banned. During the French Revolution, Christian whose belief was based up, on the Holy Bible were forced to burn the Holy Bibles. Christians were persecuted severely. It was only French in the world that her legislative assembly pronounced that there was no God. The French declared that their goddess (God) was only the “Reason”. The world for the first time heard an Assembly of learned men uplift their united voice to renounce unanimously the belief and worship of Deity. (Sir Walter Scott, Life of Nepoleon, Vol., Cha jter 17; Blackwood’s magazine’ November, 1870).
God never force human because He is love. He allows us to love and worship Him in freedom of conscience (religion). Religion is the only path that human being can come to God and live a new life of detachment. Mankind long to have supreme truth, peace,” and happiness and eternity. And thus such is the final goal of human life.
The Bible also recorded of a forced religion when Nebuchadnezzar was a king of Babylon (The modern Iraq). He enacted a law for all the peoples in his kingdom that was to worship his image. It was a part of ancient world religion to worship Emperor images and other idols. Idolatrous practices were a spiritual lifestyle particularly in Babylon. When this was imposed certain Jews who dwelled in Babylon refused to adopt their religion and worship the image of the king. So the king made a decree against the three Jews (Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego) to cast them into burning fiery furnace. When they were cast off into the furnace, God was with them amidst the flame of the furnace. They were unharmed.
Forced religion is of man, not of God. When the Son of God, Jesus Christ was in this world, he never imposed a religion to follow him or his religion and doctrines. Christ gives free and pure conscience for human being so as to exercise the liberty to worship, believe and “practice. Because in Christ’s Government no restraint was ever used. For instance, Jesus said, “If you love me keep my commandment” (John 14: 15).
Those who love him ought to keep his law, the commandments which was written by His own finger and was given to Moses on Mt Sinai. He never force unwilling public to keep his 10 commandments. It is entirely upto every person to keep the law or to condemn it. Because all human beings are moral being, who are accountable for their action. For all human being have the moral since it is written on their hearts (Roms. 2:14,15) and are exhorted to obedience (3.nd warned of the penalties of disobedience. But they are never forced.
Imposition. Yes, there is a gravest historical example which took place in Europe. Inquisition in Europe was indeed very savagery in its nature. This was set up by the Roman Catholic Church in the 13th century to combat heresy. By Pope Innocent IV’s Bull Ad of 1252, torture was permitted in addition to trial, impenitent heretics were punished by excommunication or imprisoned, or confiscation of goods, or were handed over to the State to be burned alive. Inquisition is against the two unique gifts of God — Conscience (to discern between alternatives) and Freedom (to choose between them).
The service human can give to fellow human i,e to respect the conscience and his freedom. The church, union, organisation or the institution must not violate the clear conscience of a minor group of people or even of the individual. But rather they should enlightened the deceiving conscience and ‘strengthen the weak conscience if need arises to do so; But there must be no bullying conscience.
Any church policy must not base on autocracy because it crushes conscience. Religion cannot be made/established through legislation or by majority group of people. Religion is through revelation of God and this belief or faith comes from the holy man of course some religion is founded through enlightenment.
From the worldview of General to specific, that is in Christendom, there are few churches (denominations) which venerate Saturday (Sabbath) solely basing on Holy Bible. Perhaps, the majority or Christian denomination keeps Sunday — the first day of the week. Majority of this denomination should not take advantage over the minority denomination. There is the tendency of the inclination to impose belief and doctrines upon the minor group of churches.
There will be a time in the near future to imposed universal dogmas upon a minor group’ of Christian churches by the majority of world denomination. When this phenomenon is apparently seen, the God-fearing Christian shall be enlightened and discerned to take a hold of the absolute truth of the Bible. Any imposition of religious belief/tradition that is instituted by man is against the Biblical faith and belief.
“The truth which makes men free is for the most part the truth which men prefer not to hear”.
— Herbert Agar – 1897.