The religious censoring criticism has greatly influenced people’s behaviors. People consistently avoid talking about certain things since their religion views them as obscene and contrary to their teachings. Therefore, different religions have different censorship behaviors since they apply different scriptural teachings. Although the religious censoring intends to control and regulate people’s freedom of expression and speech which is based on the religious teachings, it should not completely prevent people from their daily activities. The censoring activities in this case are mainly coordinated through renowned religious authorities in the world. The catholic faithful are in this case regulated from Vatican. Religious censorship aims at ensuring that people’s act and views are suppressed if they happen to be contrary to the religious laws. In most cases any act that contravenes to the normal teachings are considered blasphemous or disrespectful. The obscene acts and behaviors are in most cases said to violate religious taboo and can be catastrophic. Different religions have established some laws which aim at suppressing freedom of speech and expression amongst the faithful. A good number of scholars have openly supported the censorship move terming it as the only way to improve our moral actions and behaviors. Other scholars on the other hand argue that religious censoring behavior denies people’s freedom to express their feelings and speak out their views. Censoring has been a major hindrance to open orthodoxy. This paper seeks to identify some of the key effects of religious censoring criticism on the general public and how they affect people’s freedom of speech.
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Effects of religious censoring criticism to the general public and their impact on people’s freedom of expression and speech
Although religious censorship aims at improving moral behaviors of believers, explicit and intensive censorship may prevent people from reality. For instance pornographic censorship assist the young generation to keep off from the obscene cites and speech which may negatively impact their lives (Burress, 1989). The censorship of the pornographic materials and cites thus help in the maintenance of status quo. Likewise, the move controls the societal development as it encourages life decency. The Christian and Muslim communities have all along censored most of the obscene articles, TV sites and magazines. According to them obscene information often mislead young generation making them do what they would otherwise not have done (Bald, 1998). The Catholic Church, America (through the New York society for the suppression of vice) has made it illegal for person to own or sell obscene, lascivious and indecent materials, visual and audio tapes within their peripheries. But it is unfortunate that the American people and the current generation from all over the world view this as a limitation towards urbanization, industrialization and information technology. People feel that religious and statutory bodies should not bar individuals from enjoying their freedom of thought, expression and speech. The current generation believes that religion should only act as a guide, but should not decide on what’s best for the people.
Although religion censors you-tube and internet advertising, young generation have increasingly engaged themselves in such cites since through them they can freely express their feelings and thoughts (Day & Mary, 2000).
In some cases religious systems have tried to out-rightly prohibit abortion amongst the women. According to them the act is against their scriptural teachings (Bender & Bruno, 1997). Majority of religious faithful believes that abortion amounts to killing and is therefore against the law. But the contemporary world view that in some scenarios abortion should be legalized as it prevents women from giving birth to unwanted babies. The religious teachings encourage people to maintain their clean conscious which urge them to do what they would like others to do for them. Such spiritual consciousness greatly limits people to act negatively to their fellow counterparts. It is because of this reason that different nations have contrasted on personal issues such as abortion.
The developed countries such as the United States of America have been transformed into a secular state (Foerstel, 1994). By secular status, there is a clear distinction between religion and the state. The constitution and the statutory laws in a secular state override the religious laws. And since the constitution guarantees people freedom of thought, expression and speech, a religious censorship move proves futile. With the adoption of secular status, people have tended to deviate from the religious principles and regulations. The main reason why states have opted to secularize their belief system is to accommodate the changes in the religious circles which the fundamentalist did not. For instance Muslim fundamentalists view intermarriages between a Muslim and a non-Muslim as unlawful religious wise. Turkey and America are among the examples of secular states in the world while most of the Middle East nations still retain their religion fundamentals (Lesesne Et al. 2002). The religious censorship therefore tends to discourage integration between people mostly in the Muslim communities. It allows the Muslim communities to integrate and inter-marry amongst themselves. If someone happens to marry or be married to a person from any other religious faith, such a person is considered to be an outcast and end up being rejected in the society. The freedom of expression and speech therefore end up being denied as the religion dictates on whom to interact with.
The developed countries religion has also relaxed in its bid to sensor bisexual marriages such as gay and lesbianism. Although initially most of the religious systems prohibited such intermarriages, social advancements in the contemporary world have forced them to adjust some of its laws (Staples, 2003). It begun with American Anglican church which initially opposed gay marriages only to later split in order to accommodate such behaviors amongst its faithful. Although the religious systems lay more emphasis on the holy books and other religious teachings which do not allow such intermarriages, people still opt to follow their heart and feelings instead of beliefs. It is because of this reason that a secular status emerged. With the secular status, people can free to exercise their freedom and duties at their own discretion (Oboler, 1981).
The continued religious censorship against women empowerment among the Muslim communities has been criticized of having contributed sluggish growth and development in the Islamic countries. Although the move is based on the Quran and Sharia laws, this has continued to undermine the status and abilities of women in the community. Such censorship behavior continues to be criticized for seeking to establish a male dominated society. Hence, Muslim communities have also censored its faithful on the sale or consumption of pork and alcohol beverages. The sale of western music CDs and DVDs are also prohibited among the Muslim communities. Their peoples are also prohibited of practicing prostitution, homosexuality and lesbianism. The Muslim religious system has further proceeded in enforcing Islamic dressing code which should be adopted by all Muslim faithful in the world. In order to enforce their laws some countries such as Saudi Arabia specifically hires religious police to actively ensure that people follows religious laws (Sharia Laws) to the latter. All this prohibitions denies people freedom of expression and speech since the religion and states operates simultaneously (Honan, 2008).
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With the growing socio-cultural changes more criticism has emerged on the religious censorship activities. People have expressed the need to separate religion and state in order to enhance freedom of expression and speech amongst the resident. The religious limitations also continue to receive negative perceptions from the faithful who view religious laws as cumbersome and rigid. It is for this reasons that people have continued to engage in homosexuality and lesbianism in the western countries. The young generation has also continued to use internet, media and pornographic materials to learn and experiment their sexual abilities. Censorship has also been criticized among Muslim communities for undermining women status by establishing a strong male-dominated society.
Despite of the need for religious censorship in the modern behaviors, the religious groups should consider changing some of their laws in order to accommodate modern views and ideas. States and religion also need to be separated by adopting a secular status. The constitution right which gives people freedom to express their feelings and thought and also to speak out their views and ideas should be safeguarded. Religion should only guide the believers but it should not dictate or decide for them.
Bald, M. (1998) Literature Suppressed on Religious Grounds. New York: Facts on File, Incorporated.
Bender, D & Bruno, L. (1997). Censorship: Opposing Viewpoints. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, Incorporated.
Burress, L. (1989). Battle of the Books: Literary Censorship in the Public Schools, 1950 — 1985. Lanham: Scarecrow Press, Incorporated.
Day, N & Mary W. (2000). Censorship: Or Freedom of Expression? Minneapolis: Lerner Publications Company.
Foerstel, H. N. (1994). Banned in the U.S.A.: A Reference Guide to Book Censorship in Schools and Public Libraries. Westport: Greenwood Press
Honan, E. (2008). Random House Pulls Novel on Islam, Fears Violence.
Lesesne, S. (2002). Hit List for Young Adults 2: Frequently Challenged Books. Chicago: American Library Association
Oboler, E. M. (1981). Censorship and Education. New York: The H. W. Wilson Company.
Staples, S. (2003). Why Johnny Can’t Read: Censorship in American Libraries.