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RELIGION: IMPORTANT OR IRRELEVANT: JEROME TEELUCKSINGH, Ph.D.



One of the objectives of International Men’s Day is “To focus on men’s health and well-being; social, emotional, physical and spiritual.” Many of us appreciate the importance of religion in our lives and society. However, one of the major barriers to unity is the abuse of religion. There is a need for peace among the diverse religions, denominations and sects. For too long innocent persons have been killed, ostracised and scorned by others of different religious faiths. Over the centuries, millions of lives have been lost and psychologically scarred due to religious wars. The tensions are further complicated with fundamentalists and radicals claiming their actions are justified because it is done in the name of God.

Many persons need to be re-taught and re-socialized into understanding the fact that this world and humanity existed before organised religion. Furthermore, there is a need to be aware that religion was meant to improve and strengthen the relationship between humanity and God. Instead, many unscrupulous persons use religion as a mask to accomplish earthly goals. It is unfortunate that in past and in the present, religion has been used and is still being used to oppress, deceive, exploit, kill and condemn. Does God want or expect these antisocial actions? Some certainly act in a self-righteous manner as if God is bloodthirsty, revengeful and enjoys human suffering.

Some religious persons seem concerned with saving the souls of ‘heathens’, ‘pagans’
and ‘idol-worshippers’. These persons offer a salvation which cannot alleviate poverty and emotional or physical pain. Some religious leaders offer useless rhetoric that cannot heal festering political sores and a crippled economy. Their pronouncements appeal to a gullible audience. We need religious leaders who promote harmony, equity, peace and advocates of justice.
No religion or denomination is better than another religion or denomination. There is the ongoing debate as to which religion or denomination guarantees a place in Heaven, a better life after death, more happiness or a quicker path to enlightenment. Even the condemnation of atheists and agnostics by religious persons should be stopped. International Men’s Day accepts everyone – the religious and the non-believers.

Thus, in a genuine democracy, and all-inclusive society, to embrace all of humanity there is a need to emphasize similarities rather than differences in the religious teachings. All non-believers, religions and sects must join hands and rid their hearts and minds of mistrust, petty jealousies and doctrinal squabbles. This is the type of world envisioned by many supporters of International Men’s Day.

Countries experiencing religious friction can take steps to defuse this tension by promoting inter-religious contact at schools, festivals, public sessions and private gatherings. Gradual and increasing awareness of various belief systems will sow the seeds of religious peace. Open-minded and rational persons must continue or initiate the dialogue of tolerance and acceptance.

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