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Religious freedom refers to the choice one has of whether to conform to the beliefs of a particular religion or not. It is stated explicitly in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that each individual has the freedom of religion and conscience. It means that the right is non-delegable and inherent in all people.
The inclusion of the clause about the supremacy of God into the Charter does not impose a certain religion on people. It was an argument advanced by Mr. Corominas. He stated that it merely gave the Charter an inspiration for promoting peace in politics and religion. It therefore does not include any suppression of the freedom of religion. Such a stand was supported by the Brazilian debate in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948.
However, major arguments have been advanced to oppose the above opinion. Equality is a paramount right in every state. All human beings, regardless of their status quo, should be treated equally. How then does insertion of the phrase ‘Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the Supremacy of God’ promote equality? This is stated in the sense that it implies that all persons in Canada believe in God. How about the minor group of persons who have their beliefs elsewhere, are they really considered in this declaration when you interpret it literally? Yet Canada as a signatory of the United Nations strongly advocates for human rights, of which religious freedom is advocated for. It is therefore a fallacy on their part to make reference to the supremacy of God. Therefore, a charter that appeals to all persons of the state should be sought.
This should not be done for the purpose of stating that most people do not acknowledge God, but rather to account for the minority, who has different beliefs or none at all; as Mr. Corominas stated, the choice of the minority should also be respected.
The USSR representative stated that the declaration should not make reference to a theoretical nature. That is, it should not impose certain beliefs on people. This would subsequently mean that the right to freedom of conscience and religion is theoretical and impracticable.
The inclusion of the belief in God will cast a doubt on the human rights’ effectiveness. As Mrs. Bernardino put it, it will lead to the discrimination of a particular group of persons whose beliefs are not in God. This is wrong, because it will hurt the group discriminated upon. She goes further to say that ultimately it will also make all groups suffer, those discriminated upon or not. A situation may occur when the group of people s who are left out may wish to take certain steps. These steps, such as demonstrations, will end up affecting even those who are at peace with the current legislation. It may also ring questions in their mind as to whether their future needs will be adhered to or not.
A charter of human rights and freedoms should be realistic; it should not present wishful thinking and should relate to the current level of development. Suggesting reference to God is quite idealistic, considering that not all people revere to God. This inclusion might have served its purpose in the early centuries, where God and Supreme Beings were considered to be the custodians of all that happened. However, as people have changed, so too their beliefs have changed. They no longer adhere to the principle of the majority, but rather seek recognition for the minorities. Therefore, goals, aspirations, and declarations that are attainable should be sought for.
In its amendment proposal, Ecuador, apart from advocating for equality, stated that the state should take all adequate measures to ensure it. These measures are to ensure that every person is respected regardless of their beliefs and that their wishes and concerns are looked into. This means that the government should put in place good legislation and pass positive laws that cater for all persons in the state. This may mean that the Canadian charter should consider excluding the reference to God and replacing it with something that will reflect the diverse beliefs of its citizens.
The refusal to commit to a particular religion denotes the spirit of brotherhood. This argument was advanced by the proposal of Uruguay, when it talked about brotherhood solidarity. However, the substitution of the beliefs with brotherhood was not accepted by all, with the argument provided that it is practically impossible to live as brothers, just as Cain and Abel.
However, the exclusion of the ‘supremacy of God’ phrase does not indicate that there is no religion or faith practiced by the citizens of Canada. It merely denotes the refusal of the charter to commit itself to a particular religion in order to exercise the freedom of religion. However, there are certain schools of thought that tend to disagree with this view. The Classical Natural lawyers is one of such schools, who hold the view that even in our laws and rules, a superior being is always at the top of the hierarchy in their making.
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