Taking Your Human Rights Temperature in Your Place of Worship or Assembly *

Introduction:

The statements below are adapted from different United Nations conventions such as: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR); Declaration on the Elimination of All forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination based on Religion or Belief (DROB); International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR); International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR); Convention on the Rights of Child (CRC); Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW); Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups, and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (DRR); Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD); and Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhumane or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) .

The Right to Freedom of Religion or Belief is included in numerous international treaties and documents. DROB is the only international human rights document specifically addressing issues of freedom of religion or belief. Most of the statements correlate directly to the basic right to religion or belief found in Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

“Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance.”

When discrimination is mentioned in the statements below, it refers to a wide range of intolerance based on religion or belief as manifested in communities strongly influenced or sanctioned by a religious authority within a state. Such discrimination based on religion or belief is usually based on one of the following conditions:

Gender, race/ethnicity, mental disability, age, religion interpretation, female genital mutilation, male circumcision, dress code, religious decree, sexual orientation, social status, prohibition of some food and drinks, preaching for cruel penal codes, etc.

The results of this survey should provide a general sense of tolerance, understanding, and respect for freedom of religion or belief in the house of worship or place of assembly you are surveying.

Directions:

Take the Human Rights Temperature of tolerance, understanding, and respect for freedom of religion or belief in your place of worship or assembly. Read each statement and assess, in the blank next to it, how accurately it describes your place of worship or assembly. When you assess, keep in mind all your community members, especially those in control of the temple/church/mosque/synagogue/etc. At the end, sum-up your score to determine the degree of tolerance, understanding, and respect for freedom of religion or belief in your place of worship or assembly.

Rating of Scale

1  No/never                                      
2  Rarely  
3  Often                                          
4  Yes/always                                    
DN Don’t Know
                                              

Avoid DN in your answers, and get help from other people in your community. This would help in having a good comparative assessment.

1.      My place of worship or assembly is a safe place for all people. (UDHR articles 18,19)

2.       In my place of worship or assembly, openly Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender (GLBT) people are welcome to attend the Service. (UDHR articles 1, 2)

3.      People of different religions are always welcomed in my place of worship or assembly. (UDHR articles 2, 18)

4.      Women have the same rights as men in my place of worship or assembly. (DROB article 2)

5.      Children in my house of worship have the right to freedom of thought/religion. (CRC articles 13, 14)

6.      The preacher in my place of worship or assembly does not promote intolerance against other racial/religious groups, directly or indirectly. (CERD articles 2, 4; and UDHR article 1)

7.      In my place of worship or assembly, women have the right to hold religious positions. (CEDAW articles 1-16)

8.      My place of worship or assembly provides equal access, resources, activities, and accommodations to liberal reformists of my religion. (DROP articles 1, 6; and UDHR article 2)

9.      In my place of worship or assembly, women have the same rights as men in regard to marriage. They can get married to men of other faiths. (UDHR article 16)

10.  In my place of worship or assembly, the leader does not make justification of torture and waging war in the past and current history. (CAT article 2)

11.  The community members in my place of worship or assembly will question/oppose any discriminatory acts practiced or advocated in their name. (UDHR articles 2, 29; and DROP article 1)

12.  When the leader in my place of worship or assembly is faced by a different interpretation of my Holy Book, s/he will listen and engage in dialogue with the person. (UDHR article 26)

13.  When a debate over religion or belief turns into a conflict in my place of worship or assembly, the Board will not take side with the group shares their opinion and punish the other one. (UDHR article 19; DROP article 2)

14.  The leader of the religion or belief in my place of worship or assembly always advocates for indiscriminatingly laws. (DRR article 3)

15.  Derogatory language is not used by conservatives against GLBT people in my place of worship or assembly. (UDHR article 2)

16.  Members of my community who are recognized by opposing a majority or minority political group are welcomed the same way as other groups. (ICCPR article 1)

17.  Parents are not encouraged by the leader in my place of worship or assembly to harshly discipline their children if they do not practice religion. (CRC article 19)

18.  Apostasy, infidelity, and heresy are words not used by the leader in his/her weekly message to describe those who are not following the religion or belief. (CERD article 7; UDHR article 2)

19.  Diverse voices and perspectives, e.g. sexual orientation, gender, race/ethnicity, are represented in the committees of my place of worship or assembly. (UDHR articles 2, 19)

20.  Special Interest groups (caucuses) are encouraged to be established without interference from the leadership of my place of worship or assembly. (UDHR article 19; CEDAW)

21.  Members of my place of worship or assembly can produce and disseminate publications without fear of censorship. (UDHR article 19)

22.  In my house of worship, the crime of slavery that was committed with the help of religious institutions in the past is condemned in the strongest words. (UDHR article 4; CERD article 2)

23.  Members of my place of worship or assembly have the opportunity to participate in democratic decision-making processes to develop policies and rules. (UDHR articles 20, 21, 23)

24.  The leadership of my place of worship or assembly donates money and offers assistance to needy people of other faiths or beliefs. (UDHR article 29)

25.  The leadership always engages in interfaith or interbelief dialogue to promote peace in the local and global community. (UDHR articles 2, 18, 19; DROB article 1).

The best score to get is 100 degrees of appreciation of freedom of religion or belief and human rights.

 

Created by Mohamed I. Elgadi (UMASS-Amherst, 2001), Adapted from David Shiman, Teaching Human Rights. (Denver: CTIR, 1999)

[1]* Adapted from Rudilius-Palmer, K. & Shiman, D. @ http://www.hrusa.org/hrmaterials/temperature/temperature.shtm (The Human Rights Resource Center, U. of Minnesota, MN).

+ Adapted from David Shiman, Teaching Human Rights. (Denver: CTIR, 1999)

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