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“Religion does not have rights, people do”

In the intricate tapestry of human society, the concept of rights holds a paramount position, guiding our interactions and defining the boundaries of our freedoms. At the heart of this discourse lies a crucial distinction – the understanding that rights are inherently tied to individuals rather than institutions, particularly religious entities.


Rights, by definition, are the inalienable privileges and freedoms attributed to individuals.

Religion, on the other hand, often presents itself as bearers of undisputable and moral messages. However, the challenge arises when interpreting and implementing these messages in a world marked by diverse beliefs and perspectives. Is this when we need to recall that “religion does not have rights but people do?”


The "religion spiral" as explained by Professor Davis complicates this landscape, taking us from exclusivity and superiority to intolerance and, at times, expansionism. As this spiral unfolds, clashes with individual rights become evident, revealing the potential pitfalls of religious fervor. The reasons for moving along this spiral are many, such as the role of family. The influence of family in shaping an individual's understanding of rights cannot be overstated. In certain cases, family values may clash with broader societal principles, underscoring the challenges of harmonizing personal beliefs with the collective pursuit of individual rights.

In the mosaic of human existence, the debate on individual rights versus religious entitlements is nuanced and multifaceted. By unravelling the complexities surrounding the intersection of religion and rights, we pave the way for a more inclusive and tolerant society.


The role of secular education becomes pivotal in navigating this delicate balance. In schools, the inclusion of religious teachings sparks debates about the boundaries between individual rights and the freedom to practice one's faith.


Some questions we can engage with:

  1. How do you believe a secular education system contributes to fostering inclusivity and respect for diverse beliefs in a society where individuals hold a wide range of religious perspectives? Can you share any personal experiences or observations that highlight the impact of a secular educational environment on cultural and religious understanding?

  2. In the context of the delicate balance between individual rights and religious freedoms, how important do you think it is for educational institutions to maintain a secular approach? Do you see any potential challenges or benefits associated with incorporating religious teachings into public education? How might a secular education system contribute to the development of critical thinking skills in students?

If you wish to read more on this topic, this article was published after the US Supreme Court allowed the daily Christian prayers back into American schools. There were mixed reviews from parents, teachers and students, some in favor while some critical.

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A secular education system plays a crucial role in fostering inclusivity and respect for diverse beliefs in a society with a wide range of religious perspectives. A secular education system would treat all religions equally, regardless of their religious beliefs and backgrounds. By avoiding the promotion of any specific religious doctrine, a secular education system would help students learn more about various worldviews and religions and would encourage tolerance. I believe that this is specifically important in Pakistan. A person's rights should be independent of his religion.

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Thank you for your comment. Secular education might be the solution but it brings a lot of challenges as well. Have you thought about that? Like a short activity, do search the secular education countries and see what pops up. I was shocked and kind of lost too. Maybe we can discuss this further and see whether this is the solution we are really meaning to discover or not?

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Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Mahnoor. Living in Pakistan and also in a world that is generally becoming increasingly intolerant, especially on the lines of religion. The fact that religion does not have rights but people do is a crucial distinction to make, To realise that it is people that whom we owe the right to speak freely, to feel safe and not to anyone religious entity humanises others more by making us view them as humans first and Muslims, Hindus, Jews etc. later. What rights one can let a person enjoy or not is not dependent on the religion that they identify with. All religions are worthy of respect and so are all humans. It is high time…

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I partially agree with you.


I think secular education will be the way forward in the long run, but to start with we need a context analysis to figure out the major problem, that in my opinion is, this superiority which comes with religion and the idea that religion is mutually exclusive with almost everything. If we look at this in our Pakistani context, it is pretty evident. For example, we should be asking “does more education mean less religion?” Not necessarily.


Most people in America are Christians (71%) and a study done by the Pew Research Centre showed that Christians who completed their degrees were as religious as those who had not pursued studying after college. Religion might become…

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Very thought provoking! For a secular form of education, would you prefer having a version that does not touch upon religion at all? I understand that the idea is not only to decrease polarisation but also to foster inclusiveness and understanding, however, in a society that does not allow 'other factors' at all, is it even possible to super impose a form of education that is not compatible at all with the masses and their preferences.


In my opinion, for a country such as Pakistan, an urgent need is to make education less polar and less religious for now, the aspect of including the other ideas, believes and opinions is surely important to bring society towards a more peaceful and…

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What I mean by secular education in schools is that there can be and is room for school curricula that does not include religion at all. If students can go to schools for knowledge on other subjects, why can’t there be religious clubs or centres as well? Parents who want their children to get religious education or be aware, can get their children enrolled there, otherwise not.


In my school, LGS, we used to have some Christian students (1 or 2 in a batch) and they did not attend our Islamiat lectures. They used to go to the library or take their break during that time. Why couldn't they sit in the same class? How do we expect people to…

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Hey Mahoor, I think this blogpost is really insightful. To address your second question in finding the delicate balance between individual rights and religious freedoms, I find it crucial for educational institutions to maintain a secular approach. A secular education system can serve as a neutral ground, fostering an environment where diverse beliefs are respected without privileging any specific religious doctrine. This is especially important in a world marked by pluralism and varying perspectives on spirituality. While the inclusion of religious teachings in schools can provide valuable insights into cultural histories and traditions, it also poses potential challenges. Incorporating religious content may lead to bias or favoritism, creating an environment where certain beliefs are emphasized over others. I think some…

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Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts!


I want to make a point here which might be slightly different from what you said. So how d you think religion has become a lens into culture and its traditions? I mean, here we are trying to just bring forward a plan where the state and the religion act independently, how will we be able to deal with another entanglement? It is also very interesting if we put it this way, because religion surely has become the center of everything for most of the believers, and especially the Muslims. We have seen various examples around us, in our schools/universities, and even in our daily household lives. It is complex. If we…

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Thank you for sharing this. I also believe that secular education is really important, and in fact, it needs to be mandatory. This leads to more inclusivity, and students can have a neutral stance on religion. In fact, no one student will favor a religion, and this way it can include all students and be just more inclusive. In countries like Pakistan, where their isn’t secular education, and most students have to study Islamiyat even if they aren’t Muslims, its just not inclusive, and they have to study something and favor it when it's not even their religion, and I believe it is unfair to them. So secular education should be compulsory in the education system, where all religious beliefs…

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Thank you for your comment!


I slightly disagree with your point regarding Islamic studies and students who study this subject even if they are not Muslims. I don’t think people sit in a class of different faith with an open mind to learn more, have more meaningful discussions etc. This kind of forceful education of religion has just dragged us far away than brought us any closer, in my opinion. All these thoughts and comments are way more context specific than we can imagine.


Lastly, my stance on Christian prayers is that they should not have been allowed. If they are allowed, they need to allow Muslim Azan as well. If not, then one sided is definitely not the secular…

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