Religious and Civil Practices
Religiousand Civil Practices
Many religious andcivil practices usually come to conflict on the basis that one groupdenies the other its right to exercise their belief or application oftheir civic duties. In this respect, it is imperative to note thatthere have been a number of conflicts between religious organizationsand civic use of public lands in the United States. A good example isthe use of public lands that contains areas that are sacred to agiven religion. There have been times when a religious use of publicspace has infringed on the rights of the citizens, particularlyantagonizing people who do not follow this doctrine. In the samerespect, it is imperative to note that there have been instances whenthe civic use of a public land is unacceptable to the religion. Thesekinds of conflicts are historically present in the United States andcalls for a resolution of the conflicts since they are a form ofsocial instability. The constitution has Acts and clauses thatprotect each group from having their rights infringed upon. Thispaper will how address an efficient resolution is applicable inalleviating future conflicts.
Religiousand Civil Conflicts
In manycontemporary societies, the society views the society as adictatorial, tyrannical, and oppressive institution that asserts itsauthority over people in different capacities. This perspective leadsto a situation where religion becomes the civil society’s enemy.Carl Marx gives a vivid description of misdirecting and sedativeeffect of religion through its manipulation of society to gainadvantage and serve self-interests that only benefit the religiousinstitutions. It is also important to note that the civil society andreligions are in constant conflict since they are always engaged inthe struggle of gaining power in an effort to dictate and influencecommunity life.
One of the notableconflicts in the American History is the 1996 conflict of Wyoming’sDevils Tower National Monument. It is important to note that therewere other preceding conflicts between Native Americans concernedabout the appropriate utilization of lands deemed public but containsacred attributes to Native Americans. In this regards, NativeAmericans have applied Free Exercise Clause to challenge various usesand protect access to public lands that contain sacred sites.However, such attempts face failure although there are somegovernment agencies that have proceeded to accommodate NativeAmerican cultural and religious application of such lands. This is toprevent disruption of Native American uses of their sacred lands.However, such lands are constitutionally availed to the public forrecreational purposes. People who oppose the restricted access tosuch lands violate the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause. Inthe Wyoming conflict, the monument serves as a sacred site forvarious plains tribes. However, the plaintiffs were interested infull access to the site for recreational purposes and commercial rockclimbing activities. This conflict incorporated two perspectives. Oneof the perspectives was that one of the groups wanted to promote theAmerican culture of recreation and commercial application ofavailable resources. The other perspective was that the other groupwanted to protect the deeper and sacred importance of the monumentand enable the Native Americans to engage in some of theirtraditional religious practices (Greig 342).
This is a case thatshows how religious and civil practices conflict. In this respect, itis important to note that both the groups had constitutional backingthat asserted their right to the said monument. However, the conflictcould not be easily resolved through application of the constitutionas the two parties had enough backing of the constitution to claimtheir rights. One of the issues brought to light during this conflictwas the struggle that Native Americans embarked on to protect theirspiritual and physical integrity. The other element brought to lightwas the conflict associated with civil and religious practices. It isimportant to note that whereas this case is construed as a civil andreligious conflict, the cultural aspects of both the Native Americansand Euro-Americans was the hallmark of the case. However, there is aneed for a balance to ensure that the two cultures coexisted togetherwithout creating a conflict of such magnitude (Fisher 90).
It is important tonote many avenues exist where religious freedom and civil libertieslead to conflicts within the society. For instance, many issues existin the United States where the civil society and religiousinstitutions differ in opinion. Such issues include abortion, samesex marriage, stem research, and a variety of other pertinent issueswithin the society. One of the issues found to be a basis forconflict in the contemporary society is the issue of gay marriage.For instance, there are some religious groups’ members do not offertheir business services to gay people. This has resulted in conflict,which needs legal address. The courts on the other hand face thedilemma of being ethical in their approach to such cases because allparties to such cases have legal protection by the constitution. Thebasis of such discrimination is that the American culture has allowedreligious liberty and non-discrimination core values of theirsociety. The constitution also protects these core values and triesto ensure that the applicability of the laws do not jeopardize therights of other individuals. The balancing acts of the protection ofthe liberties cause the conflicts between religious and civilpractices.
Some religiousinstitutions also infringe on the rights of the civil society throughdiverse practices that are primary to their doctrine. However, thesepractices may be disturbing, inappropriate, or offensive to the civilsociety. For instance, there are cases where Mosques in Americancities have practiced the Islamic adhan also referred to ascall to prayer. This practice makes use of amplified loudspeakersthat result in objection from non-Muslims that living within theearshot of the mosques. This is not limited to the Islamic religionbut there are also some extreme Christian denominations, which havebeen the subject of many conflicts within the society. For instance,Westboro Baptist Church has been noted for being very controversial,which have led to some members of the church directly provoking thecivil society over their practice of picketing in events that arepertinent to the society. A good example is when church memberspicketed after the Sandy Hook shooting where they picketed statingthat it was God’s plan to punish the American society for its sins.Other religious conflicts include occupation of lands where thegovernment determines that there are illegal activities happeningthat results in conflicts such as the Waco and Ruby Ridge sieges. Inthis way, there is the observation that even religious institutionssometimes act in a manner that result in conflicts within the society(Dixon 229).
Religioncontributes to conflict potential in society since religion createsdivisiveness within the community. These influences eventually resultin conflicts between civil and religious institutions since most ofthe civil institutions tend to liberate people from any social,religious, and political oppression. Scholars have warned againstviewing religious institutions as the powerful forces of peaces andtolerance that they claim to be. In this respect, many religiousleaders vie for civil elective posts in an effort to assert theirinfluence over the members of the community. This results with acivil society enslaved by religion. However, civil societies on theother hand try to protect the liberty of the members of communitythrough ensuring liberation, freedom of choice, freedom of speech,and freedom of association. This eventually leads to conflict andstruggle because the civil society will strive to throw the religiousburden off the society.
Religion alsocreates conflict when it acts not as an instigator or perpetrator ofconflict but when religion assumes the role of a judge, freedomfighter, or liberator. This happens when religion joins an existingstruggle and supports the assumed wronged party to restoreliberation, freedom, and justice. In these types of conflict,religion can be supporting of associations in society that are inconflict or religion can be side of society that is engaged in aconflict with the state (Garnet 77).
The research hasrevealed that both the religious and civil societies contribute tosocial conflicts that fete the religious and civil society againsteach other. Both parties have valid reasons for trying to protecttheir rights apart from situations where religious institutions tryto assert their power over the community. These conflicts will alwaysarise within the society because the different perceptions of the twoinstitutes will always conflict over each other. There is also thefact that many institutions have their interests to protect. Thiscalls for a viable solution of ensuring that these conflicts solutionis for mutual benefit of all parties.
Religiousand Civil Conflict Resolution
In identifying theideal resolution to a religious and civil conflict, it is importantto assume that the peacekeepers are government, government agencies,and the society. Most of the religious and civil conflicts emergefrom what different people and groups want, can, and will do. For anefficient conflict resolution, there is a need to balance powersbetween the conflicting groups. This is achievable through ensuringthat the parties’ interests put into consideration and aligned toensure that all parties are satisfied with the decision. There are anumber of steps associated with identifying the right and efficientresolution to religious and civil conflicts.
The first step isthe identification of the root cause of the conflict. The viablepeacemakers should gather as much information as possible to identifythe root cause of the conflict. This is very critical in ensuringthat the identification of resolution is in a timely and efficientmanner. The government agencies mandated to mediate the conflictshould apply a series of questions directed to the parties involvedin the conflict. For instance, the mediator should approach the civilsociety and identify the reasons they are disappointed with thereligious stand in a given issue. The mediator should replicate thesame with the religious institutions. During fact-finding, themediator is obligated to give both parties a chance of sharing theirfacts, traditions, and defend their stand on the cause of theconflict. Impartiality is a virtue that the mediator should possessduring the process (Andrade and Pedro 588).
The mediator shouldalso be open-minded about the incident that sparked the conflict. Inmost conflicts between religious and civic groups, it is theperspective and not the situation that brings about anger andanimosity. The primary cause of the conflict may be a minor problemoccurring long period before. However, this minor problem can createstress, which builds up over time and eventually leads to a conflict.In a religion and civil conflict, it is critical to look into thehistory of the conflict and identify if there was a time when the twoparties operated amicably within the society. This perspective intothe historical perspective of the conflict is critical in identifyingthe point at which the conflict started. This in turn helps inidentifying the trigger of the conflict and helps in starting thereconciliation process.
The mediator in areligion and civil conflict should then request solutions from bothparties. In this step, the mediator has already obtained theviewpoints of the religious institutions and the civic institutions.The mediator is supposed to get information from the parties on howthey would want the situation changed. For instance, in the conflictagainst Mosques using loud speakers, the government agency should askthe non-Muslim neighbors how they would want the situation changed sothat the mosques stop disturbing their peace. The mediator should askthe mosques if they have any alternatives than using theirloudspeakers. This solicitation of ideas is critical in the processof conflict resolution. The mediation step is very influential inidentifying the solutions that will be viable for both parties (Dixon670).
The next step isthe identification of solutions supported by both the religiousinstitutions and civil society. The mediator should be careful tolook into the possibility of one of the solutions infringing on therights of either party in the conflict. The mediator should alsoensure that the society and community considered during theidentification of solutions. For example, the conflict of the sacredrock between civil society and the Native Americans was amicablyresolved after all the consulting with all stakeholders including thecivil society. This played a critical role in the identification of asolution that ensured that all parties were satisfied with thesolution. The final step is agreeing where the two partiesacknowledge that they are satisfied with the solution. However, it isimperative for the mediator to follow up on the execution of theresolution to ensure that there is not party that has been victimizedby the resolution. This prevents the arising of future conflictsbetween the conflicting parties.
Religious and civilpractices tend to result in conflicts. Although in the contemporarysociety the resolution of these conflicts occur without escalation ofissues, it is important to note that historically, thesedisagreements have even resulted in armed conflicts. In mostsocieties, there is the separation of religion and civil institutes.However, various constitutions in the world, including theConstitution of the United States, have clauses that eventually leadto the conflicts arising. In this respect, the best approach isfinding an efficient and long lasting resolution to the conflictwithout victimizing any parties to ensure that there is tolerance,understanding, and harmony within the society.
Andrade, Marcelo, and Pedro Teixeira. "School, Religion andIntolerance: On Laic School and Religious Conflicts in Brazil."Second International Handbook of Urban Education. SpringerInternational Publishing, 2017. 585-611.
Dixon, Jeffrey S. "What Causes Civil Conflicts? Back to“Grievance vs. Greed”." (2014): 668-670.
Fisher, Ronald J. "Generic principles for resolving intergroupconflict." Ronald J. Fisher: A North American Pioneer inInteractive Conflict Resolution. Springer InternationalPublishing, 2016. 87-104.
Garnett, Richard W. "Religious Accommodations and—andAmong—Civil Rights: Separation, Toleration, and Accommodation."(2015).
Greig, J. Michael. "Nipping them in the bud: The onset ofmediation in low-intensity civil conflicts." Journal ofConflict Resolution 59.2 (2015): 336-361.
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