Religion versus human rights
Religious traditions have incorporated a deep yearning for social justice that can inspire the debates of today. Religious traditions also embrace the idea of human dignity; in the biblical idea of the creation of all human beings in the image of God, or the Koranic idea of all human beings as called upon to act as khalifa (God’s deputies on Earth, as some translate this concept).
In practice, of course, religious communities have not always supported democracy and human rights. For instance, the Roman Catholic Church is long opposed to human rights in general and religious liberty in particular. We can take an example from a Roman Catholic community, where the abortion is illegal. Many researchers have found that most pregnancies in Roman Catholic community ended in abortions, were illegal and unsafe. Unsafe abortions continue to be a leading cause of maternal mortalities in Roman Catholic community. So, it is very wise to legalize the abortion to control such unwanted outcomes. But at the same time we can see that people are not willing to choose abortion as the country is predominantly Roman Catholic country. We can see great contradiction between religion and the human rights in this very issue. According to their religion, they are not allowed the option of abortion and not supposed to use any means of contraceptives. To the contrary, many practicing Roman Catholic women experience high maternal mortality due to the illegal and unsafe abortion. This very issue has also become a burning issue in most of the Latin American countries. People in these countries are raising their anti-abortion voices to carry significant political weight. The debate of reproductive policy in the Latin American countries has become the unsolved issue and has created a paradox. Human right is still somewhat hidden and misunderstood, and as a result remains contradictory. There is no fixed decision made by neither the government nor the law. This shows that religious communities are part of society and have to undergo the same learning processes that society as a whole has to tackle.
In the case of Islam, many Muslims have found ways to reconcile the requirements of religion with a commitment to democracy and human rights. The questions include whether and how the Islamic sharia and the modern program of human rights fit together, and how equal rights for women and men can be fostered, within the framework of Islamic thinking. Does religious liberty encompass the right also to change one’s religion and to convert from Islam to another religion? There has been debate on these questions between Muslims themselves, as well as between Muslims and non-Muslims.