Tag Archives: Religion

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

On December 10, 1948 the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights the full text of which appears in the following pages. Following this historic act the Assembly called upon all Member countries to publicize the text of the Declaration and “to cause it to be disseminated, displayed, read and expounded principally in schools and other educational institutions, without distinction based on the political status of countries or territories.”


Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,

Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,

Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law,

Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations,

Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,

Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in co-operation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms,

Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realization of this pledge,

Now, Therefore THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY proclaims THIS UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.

Article 1.

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Article 2.

Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.

Article 3.

Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

Article 4.

No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.

Article 5.

No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Article 6.

Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.

Article 7.

All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.

Article 8.

Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.

Article 9.

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

Article 10.

Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.

Article 11.

(1) Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.

(2) No one shall be held guilty of any penal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a penal offence, under national or international law, at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offence was committed.

Article 12.

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

Article 13.

(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.

(2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.

Article 14.

(1) Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.

(2) This right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

Article 15.

(1) Everyone has the right to a nationality.

(2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.

Article 16.

(1) Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.

(2) Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.

(3) The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.

Article 17.

(1) Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.

(2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.

Article 18.

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.

Article 19.

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Article 20.

(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.

(2) No one may be compelled to belong to an association.

Article 21.

(1) Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.

(2) Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country.

(3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.

Article 22.

Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.

Article 23.

(1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.

(2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.

(3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.

(4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.

Article 24.

Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.

Article 25.

(1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.

(2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.

Article 26.

(1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.

(2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.

(3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.

Article 27.

(1) Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.

(2) Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.

Article 28.

Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.

Article 29.

(1) Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible.

(2) In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.

(3) These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

Article 30.

Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.

Source: UN

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Timothy Egan: Faith of Our Fathers

Watching the polygamists in West Texas come into the sunlight of the 21st century has been jarring, making you feel like a voyeur of some weird historical episode.

You see these 1870 Stepford wives with the braided buns and long dresses, these men with their low monotones and pious, seeming disregard for the law on child sex — and wonder: who opened the time capsule?

But when Texas authorities removed 437 children earlier this month from the compound of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints they did more than give Larry King something to talk about between anorexia stories of the stars. They gave us all a glimpse into what a religion was like before it took on the patina of time — with the statues, murals and polished narratives.

Religion has always been about faith and a certain degree of mythology. It’s pointless to argue whether the Red Sea actually parted, or if Jesus turned water into wine to keep a wedding party going, or if the freezing of the Mississippi River was one of the miracles that allowed early Mormons to flee persecution and build a theocracy in the desert.

Faith is a moving thing; witness the throng in Yankee Stadium who came away in a fever of fellowship after listening to the Pope last weekend, or the 55,000 moved to practice random acts of compassion by the Dalai Lama at Qwest Field in Seattle two weeks ago.

But religion can also be used as an excuse for awful behavior – from the torture of the Roman Catholic Inquisition, to beheadings by Jihadist killers, to the sexual manipulation of children by early Mormons and their latter-day sects.

Mormonism is the most homegrown of American religions, and the fastest-growing in the Western Hemisphere. There are more Mormons in the United States than Presbyterians. The church has been vocal about denouncing the renegade Mormons in Texas, and quick to point out that it abandoned polygamy in 1890, as a condition of Utah’s statehood.

For a long time, though, the church was at odds with basic American ideals, and not just because old guys sanctioned marital sex with dozens of teenage girls. What you see in Texas — in small part — is a look back at some of the behavior of Mormonism’s founding fathers.

When Mitt Romney, in his December speech about his religion, said, “My faith is the faith of my fathers — I will be true to them and to my beliefs,” he was taking on a load of historical baggage.

His faith was founded in 1830 by Joseph Smith Jr., an itinerant treasure-seeker from upstate New York who used a set of magic glasses to translate a lost scripture from God. His personality was infectious, the religion very approachable.

It would have been just another Christian faith had not Smith let his libido lead him into trouble. Before he died at the hands of a mob, he married at least 33 women and girls; the youngest was 14, and was told she had to become Smith’s bedmate or risk eternal damnation.

Smith was fortunate to find a religious cover for his desire. His polygamy “revelation” was put into The Doctrine and Covenants, one of three sacred texts of Mormonism. It’s still there – the word of God. And that’s why, to the people in the compound at Eldorado, the real heretics are in Salt Lake City.

As his biographer, Fawn Brodie, wrote, Joseph Smith “could not rest until he had redefined the nature of sin and erected a stupendous theological edifice to support his new theories on marriage.”

Smith was also a commander-in-chief of his own militia, and a candidate for President, running on a platform of “bringing the dominion of the Kingdom of God” over the United States. His successor, Brigham Young, married 57 women – a harem that attracted curious libertines like Sir Richard Burton to study the American social experiment.

And when the church set up a huge polygamous theocracy in the West, President James Buchanan was forced in the 1850s to send an army of 2,500 – nearly one-sixth of American forces – to uphold the law.

The church did not give up its sexual practices without a long fight. As late as 1880, as Jon Krakauer notes in his book “Under the Banner of Heaven,” Mormon leaders preached that polygamy was above the laws of the land. The church’s then-supreme leader, John Taylor, said that polygamy “has been handed down directly from God. The United States cannot abolish it.”

Fast forward to this century, when the polygamist group makes the same argument at their West Texas compound and at their earlier one in Colorado City, on the Utah-Arizona border. I was at that Colorado City compound, twice in the last four years. It spooked me: the gnarly old men and their child brides, the creepy guards in their pickup trucks, the sing-songy women tending to a dozen children in houses the size of a Motel 6. They were ripping off the state, living on welfare and food stamps, even as they defied civil authorities.

In Colorado City, I spent time with DeLoy Bateman, a high school science teacher, who told of losing his daughter after church authorities ordered her to leave her husband and marry her father-in-law – a man twice her age.

And despite the best efforts of the wealthy, modern Mormon church to leave a big part of its past behind, some Mormons still support the defiance of modern-day polygamist leaders, judging by the comments of Saints who are appalled by the breakup of the compound in Texas.

“Back then, we were the ones in the compound,” wrote Guy Murray, a Mormon lawyer who writes a blog on his faith. He should be applauded for his honesty. But I’m not sure I’d want to be holding that baton of belief, passed through years. Sometimes, the faith of our fathers is better left to the revisionists.

* New York Times
* http://egan.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/04/23/faith-of-our-fathers/index.html?ref=opinion

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Bilhá Calderón: No creo en Dios

No creo en Dios
soy una mujer tranquila.
No me confieso, no me callo
los pecados.
No creo en la comunión
pegada a la lengua.
Creo profundamente en otro;
soy infiel porque lo espero siempre,
lo siento cerca, sé que viene
en escrituras lejanas, atemporales.
Se manifiesta sin solemnidad
en el verbo impronunciable.
No creo en el dolor de las espinas,
vivo enredada con tirones, girones,
cabellos que me visten el nombre.
No quisiera pasar por hereje
en el fondo tengo fé;
me tomo el cuerpo con devoción.
Tampoco blasfemo,
la verdad me penetra,
hablo y predico con el ejemplo
de mujer primera y última.
Yo no creo, soy un ente
en el espacio.
No me arrepiento. Me postro
frente a otro, cualquier otro
De rodillas escucho sus rezos
terminados, de corrido.
La compasión me invade, me llena
su pena se envuelve de mí,
es conmigo palabra.
Soy, en ese otro
flexionándome el deseo,
paríéndome con sangre,
sin disculpas, sin certezas.
Creo que soy.
Contigo en la boca
soy muerte eterna y redonda,
aletargada ausencia de todo.

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La Jornada: Refrenda Papa negro compromiso con marginados de globalización

Roma, 20 de enero. El nuevo superior general de los jesuitas, el español Adolfo Nicolás, reiteró este domingo en Roma el compromiso de la mayor orden religiosa católica de defender a los “pobres, marginados y manipulados, a los excluidos de la globalización”.

El religioso, de 71 años, elegido el sábado prepósito general de la compañía de Jesús, un cargo popularmente conocido como el de Papa negro, ilustró la dirección que dará a la influyente congregación en la primera misa que celebró tras su elección.

“Nuestro mensaje es el de la salvación. Es un mensaje universal, no se puede reducir a un país, a naciones geográficas, porque hay otras comunidades humanas, la de los pobres, marginados, manipulados, son los excluidos de la globalización. Esa es mi nación”, dijo.

Nicolás, el vigesimonoveno sucesor de san Ignacio de Loyola, presidió la misa en la Iglesia del Jesús, donde reposan las reliquias del santo fundador, en 1540, de la mayor orden católica y también la más abierta y a la vez más rebelde a las normas del Vaticano, con el que históricamente ha tenido numerosas fricciones.

Los diarios en estos días juegan con muchos clichés. Que el Papa negro, que el Papa blanco, poder, rumores. Nosotros estamos aquí para servir a Dios, a la Iglesia y al mundo, ésa es la misión de los jesuitas”, comentó.

El nuevo superior general, que se dirigía a los cerca de mil asistentes en lenguaje directo y simple, es considerado un excelente comunicador, moderno y progresista. “Ayer, después del shock de mi elección, alguien me susurró: no te olvides de los pobres. Eso es lo más importante”, reconoció.

El religioso considera que la congregación se encuentra ante un importante desafío y que tiene que interrogarse sobre “cuáles son las naciones humanas, no geográficas, a las que hay que dedicar la mayor atención y energía para anunciar la salvación”, afirmó. A la liturgia asistieron unas mil personas, entre ellos tres cardenales jesuitas, Tomas Spidlik, Urbano Navarrete y Roberto Tucci.

Buena parte de los 217 delegados con derecho a voto, en representación de los casi 20 mil jesuitas del mundo, eligieron por mayoría, y en el segundo escrutinio, a Nicolás, quien remplaza a Peter Hans Kolvenbah, el cual renunció al cargo –a pesar de ser vitalicio– después de 25 años al frente de la Compañía por razones de edad.

“El hecho de que el padre Nicolás reitere la defensa de los pobres no constituye una novedad. Ésa es la línea de la congregación desde 1974. Pero que hable de marginados y excluidos resulta más interesante, porque ello siempre ha generado problemas a la congregación, sobre todo en América Latina”, comentó el francés Hervé Hyannou, autor de un libro sobre esa comunidad religiosa.

Las sanciones dictadas por el Vaticano contra los jesuitas, precursores del diálogo interreligioso y del compromiso con los más pobres, mitigaron las iniciativas más osadas que siguieron al Concilio Vaticano II (1962-1965), que tenía como objetivo revolucionar a la Iglesia.

* La Jornada
* http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2008/01/21/index.php?section=sociedad&article=040n1soc

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Carlos Martínez García: Aquí y allá, clérigos sin sensibilidad

Sus implacables dichos llenan las primeras planas de los diarios, pero contribuyen al creciente vaciamiento de sus templos. Los jerarcas católicos descalifican a su propia feligresía, y al hacerlo la hieren más. No hay ejercicio de comprensión, de acompañamiento, hacia quienes las difíciles condiciones de la vida cotidiana de por sí mantienen lacerados y en permanente estado de marginación.

Con pocos días de diferencia, en España y en México conspicuos clérigos hicieron aseveraciones que culpabilizan a quienes en realidad son víctimas. En la misa dominical, dirigida por el obispo auxiliar de la ciudad de México, Carlos Briseño Archl, en ausencia del titular, Norberto Rivera Carrera, el sustituto dejó plena constancia de que está aprendiendo bien de su maestro y superior. Al respecto vale recordar que Rivera Carrera, en el contexto de un oficio religioso, llamó “prostitutos y prostitutas de la comunicación” a quienes, según él, destruyen el buen nombre y honor de las personas. El cardenal se refería a medios y personajes que dieron cabida a los señalamientos que sobre él se recrudecieron el recién terminado año, en el sentido de que era encubridor de pederastas. En su ya conocido y fulminante estilo hizo descender fuego contra sus críticos, pero nada de diálogo y explicaciones porque él es uno de los llamados “príncipes de la Iglesia”.

En la línea descalificatoria bien marcada por Norberto Rivera, el obispo auxiliar de la arquidiócesis de la ciudad de México, Carlos Briseño, según nota de Alma E. Muñoz, en su homilía “arremetió contra las madres de familia que trabajan. Las acusó de despreciar y ‘minusvalorar’ su papel de amas de casa, así como de abandonar el cuidado de una familia ‘en aras de una vida con más confort y de una realización personal al margen del esposo y los hijos’” (La Jornada, 31/12/07). Fue más allá, “el prelado utilizó la figura del emperador romano Herodes para criticar a este grupo de mujeres y a los jóvenes, por considerar que influyen en la desintegración familiar”.

Un hecho complejo, las mujeres que por distintas circunstancias trabajan, es presentado por el obispo de una manera simplista y grosera. El símil utilizado, el de Herodes, no sólo es exagerado, sino que raya en la injuria hacia las mujeres que laboran fuera de sus casas y que son obligadas a hacerlo por las difíciles circunstancias que cotidianamente confrontan. Circunstancias muy lejanas a las ideales que el clérigo imagina.

Por su parte, en España, el obispo de Tenerife Bernardo Álvarez señaló que en los numerosos casos de pederastia que afectan a miembros de la Iglesia católica “puede haber menores que sí lo consientan y, de hecho, los hay. Hay adolescentes de 13 años que son menores y están perfectamente de acuerdo y, además, deseándolo. Incluso, si te descuidas, te provocan” (nota del corresponsal Armando G. Tejeda, La Jornada, 28/12/07). Consentidas, o no, las relaciones sexuales entre sacerdotes católicos, o ministros de cualquier otro culto religioso, y menores de edad son delitos que de ninguna manera pueden justificarse, y menos con explicaciones endebles como la del obispo español.

El abuso sexual de los clérigos católicos es de tal magnitud que ha afectado gravemente las finanzas de la institución eclesiástica, debido a las millonarias indemnizaciones en dólares pagadas a las víctimas. Pero sus mayores estragos no son financieros, sino que están en el terreno de la merma en la credibilidad de la Iglesia católica, debido a los malabares de todo tipo a que ha recurrido para evitar que cientos, ¿o miles?, de sacerdotes sean encarcelados. En el proceso de evasión de responsabilidades por parte de la burocracia clerical que dirige desde Roma los destinos de la institución, la más lastimada ha sido una amplia parte de la feligresía que comprueba cómo en lugar de hacer salir la verdad de las redes de complicidad que prohíjan la pederastia, se han tendido mantos de tinieblas para solapar a los predadores sexuales de infantes.

En el contexto bosquejado, el de la impune red encubridora, lo manifestado por el obispo de Tenerife –quien presenta a inermes sacerdotes provocados por la lascivia de precoces cazadores de placeres prohibidos– es un acabado ejemplo de barbarie clerical. Estamos ante la cerrazón, que se niega a comprender que debido a sus propios excesos, fallas y estructura vertical, la Iglesia católica se encuentra en franco declive. Pero no hay sensibilidad para avizorar y evaluar los signos internos de la paulatina declinación. En su hermenéutica son siempre los de afuera los responsables, los que asedian a la inmaculada organización eclesiástica. Todo, desde su hermenéutica excluyente, es una asonada de sus adversarios.

Dice el libro veterotestamentario de Eclesiastés, capítulo 3, “que todo tiene su tiempo”. Y el tiempo de lanzar invectivas en todo lugar y contra todos por parte de una jerarquía eclesial insensible ya debe llegar a su fin. Si no por convicción, que los clérigos aquejados de insensibilidad lo hagan por conveniencia, para permanecer y no ser arrasados por el vendaval que merma la cantidad de quienes todavía les escuchan.

* La Jornada
* http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2008/01/02/index.php?section=politica&article=014a1pol

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