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Religious Censorship Fuels Inequality And Otherness

2707 words - 11 pages

Tolerance is accepted as an essential part of developing a harmonious community, but tolerance and censorship are not entirely the same thing. While tolerance is defined by the OED as "the disposition to be patient with or indulgent to the opinions or practices of others; freedom from bigotry or undue severity in judging the conduct of others," and implies a personal decision to accept the differences of others, censorship is defined as "official supervision; control" by the OED which revokes personal responsiblity and places it on another entity than the self. Too often is it simply accepted that the successful implementation of tolerance requires censorship to also exist, and while this may be true in some cases such as the act of self-censoring racial slurs, when it comes to the topic of religion, censorship is dangerous. Religious censorship supresses the freedom of expression and is evidently responsible for creating dangerous divisions within society. While respect for the religious beliefs of others is important, it is also necessary to realize that by creating a highly-censorized society with regard to religion, censorship actually perpetuates the concept of otherness which ultimately is detrimental to the goals of creating a harmonious society. Censorship that exists within information provided by and the actions of the media and government help to shape dangerous ideas about otherness in those who do not share similar religious beliefs. Even artwork is repressed in exploring what might be considered 'offensive' subject matter. Misconceptions about other religions, specifically Islam, creates rifts within society and sets up an 'us versus them' scenario. Numerous false representations of religious groups intermingle with real examples of extremists who often feel their religious beliefs are under attack. To establish a truly tolerant society that is free from "severity in judging the conduct of others" it is essential that equality be established among all religious groups. To establish equality there must not be allowed to exist heightened censorship of particular religions which develops the idea of otherness and suggests that certain ideas are more revered within society. Religious sects must be more tolerant of those who do not share the same beliefs as them and open to respectful critiques about their beliefs as society attempts to determine how multiple spiritualities may exist harmoniously together.

Why should anyone even care about whether or not religion is censored? Religion in the public sphere has increased dramatically from the days when Nietzche famously declared that "God is dead" (Manzoor 112) Quite on the contrary to being dead, "God" has surfaced extensively within societal discussions and dominates the public sphere in many respects; "it seems that rumours of the death of God were exaggerated [...] God, or more accurately religious belief, has made an unexpected return" (Manzoor 112). Some aspect of spirituality is...

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