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Don’t use religion to control others

Published:Sunday | January 3, 2016 | 12:00 AMPete DeLisser

There have been a series of columns written in the media recently by Helene Coley Nicholson, a member of the Lawyers Christian Fellowship, who tried to argue that human rights come from God and, therefore, it is okay to be intolerant of gays.

In another article, she condemned the United States Government (and Obama during his visit to Jamaica) for encouraging Jamaica to be more tolerant, which, by the way, is the Christian and moral response.

While Coley Nicholson is entitled to her opinion, she must realise that not everyone is religious or believes in God. She has to be, therefore, respectful of other views on these topics. Some of the most religious states have the most atrocious human rights laws. For example, Indonesia where Sharia law is practiced. We read of recent reports of a young heterosexual couple being whipped in public after being caught too close together (intimate). The images of the public whipping making the rounds in the global media were unbelievable and those who ordered the beating are convinced they were morally and religiously right.

Coley Nicholson also mentioned the case of the Kentucky county clerk who refused to sign same sex marriage licenses due to her religious belief as a Christian. What Coley Nicholson omitted, however, was the fact that public records showed this self-righteous clerk to be married four times, and having a child during a period of overlap which suggests adultery.

This clerk had the option of leaving the job due to religious conflict and no one would've been bothered. Coley Nicholson must remember that we live in a diverse society. There are people who believe in God (theists) and there are atheists who don't believe at all. There are also multiple variations in between, which is why secularists believe religion has no place in determining public policy and law. The latter, out of respect for diverse religious beliefs, which often cause conflicts is, therefore, more reasonable and plausible in a universal way. No one should be able to force their religious views unto others and the most successful countries in the world have found ways to exclude or limit influence of religion.




Regardless of what Coley Nicholson and her Christian lawyers think, gays will continue to exist in large numbers. It must be extremely difficult as a Christian lawyer to reconcile the profession of law with one's religion. Prayer can take you only so far. Mrs Coley Nicholson should use her religion to focus more on herself and stop using it to criticise and judge others. There is a well-known ancient Buddhist saying, "The purpose of religion is to control yourself, not to criticise (or control) others.

Religion is a personal choice which can be used to bring positive balance in one's life, ultimately enhancing societies. But like everything else, you'll always find some who are extremists, who are obsessive and problematic. There are so many social issues the Christian Lawyers and the church could focus on, but none seem to matter more than homosexuality.

Morality, I should point out, is not decided by a particular religion; it just so happens that many religions are also deeply moral. There are many persons who draft laws who are not religious. Religion must be kept separate from the State and public policy. There are too many conflicts and polarising religious views.

If one must argue where does human rights come from, I'd simply say, from the many facets that make up a society and a culture. The right to live and love, and co-exist in peace and harmony is a basic human right, which no religion of substance could dare to deny.

Pete Delisser