Freedom To Choose Religion

by Christopher Martin

Personally, I am an atheist who has no belief whatsoever in any type of religion or the existence of any sort of god. I have never had any faith in a religion despite hearing the beliefs of many from different faiths; e.g. Christians, Jews, Muslims, etc. Despite my belief that no god exists I still respect the beliefs of others, if they’re happier believing in their various faiths then that’s fine by me.

 After having a discussion with a fellow journalist on their religious views, we had quite contrasting views and opinions on religion and the impact it has on those who are religious. But despite this we did both come to one firm agreement; that people should have the freedom to choose in faith, and that people should not be pressured into believing in god. In particular what I’m referring to is people who are brought up in cultures and environments where religion is the norm. For instance children instinctively have a trust in their parents who help raise them, so naturally if their parents are believers in say Christianity then they are going to be subjected to religious influence. I don’t think this is right. Children are very naive and it is unfair to brainwash them with ideas.

As well as parental/family influence I believe it’s unfair for cultural expectation to determine people’s faith. For example, Pakistan has a high regard for traditional Islamic values, but is it fair for individuals to have to adhere to the Islamic faith which has come to be expected in their society? It would be difficult, I suppose, to ignore the expectations and social pressures being a citizen living in a country like that, but it is my belief that people should be free to make up their own minds.

In life we choose our career paths, our friends, and our hobbies, amongst other things, and we make decisions based on happiness and what we wish to achieve and gain in life. I believe religion should be treated in the same way, I’m not criticising those who are of a religious faith, I’ve outlined that from the start, but what I do believe is that everyone should be free to make their own mind up, and not be subjected to overwhelming influence or pressure.

Surely there is an immorality engrained in religion in the sense that people have become too determined to convert non-believers into believers; isn’t there?

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