THE TANDEM PROJECT
UNITED NATIONS, HUMAN RIGHTS,
FREEDOM OF RELIGION OR BELIEF
UN-based Questionnaire – the Ultimate Meaning of Life
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E-mail your answers to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Genuine dialogue on human rights and freedom of religion or belief calls for respectful discourse, discussion of taboos and clarity by persons of diverse beliefs. Inclusive dialogue includes people of theistic, non-theistic and atheistic beliefs, as well as the right not to profess any religion or belief. These are United Nations categories in General Comment 22 on Article 18, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Human Rights Committee (CCPR/C/21/Rev.1/Add.4).
General Comment 22 on Article 18 clarifies the intersection of human rights and freedom of religion or belief as a guide for peaceful cooperation, respectful competition and resolution of conflicts. This UN document must be read as a prerequisite to filling out the Questionnaire. Click to open:
Check the U.N. category which generally describes your religion or belief:
This is a person who believes in a traditional description of God as a supernatural deity or deities; or who believes in some form of Deism, unstructured supernatural spirituality.
2. Non-theist ____
This is a person who believes in a Universal Mind, striving for spiritual self actualizations, Reincarnation, Pantheist (everything as God), spirituality without a supernatural deity, or Buddhism, described by some as a Godless religion without a supernatural deity.
3. Atheist ____
This is a person who believes in Materialism, naturalism, a person who does not believe in any form of supernatural reality, otherworldly or traditional descriptions of God.
4. No Religion or Belief ____
This is a person who is neutral, Agnostic, who suspends belief in theism, non-theism or atheism, but remains open to conviction; or a person who does not want to be described in any category.
I. THE ULTIMATE MEANING OF LIFE
The Ultimate Meaning of Life is a religious, spiritual or philosophical question; the core concern or first principles of the life of an individual or community, religious or non-religious.
1. Give a brief description of the ultimate meaning of your life according to the teachings and understandings or your religion or belief. If you have not thought about the question, explain what you think might be the ultimate meaning of your life.
2. How did you come to know the ultimate meaning of life according to your religion or belief? What role do the doctrines or sayings of your religion or belief play in knowing the truth of your meaning? What role does faith play in this knowledge?
3. Are there other religions or beliefs that hold your understanding of the ultimate meaning of life in common with your beliefs? What are they?
4. Can you describe what motivates your life if you are a person that does not profess a religion or belief, or subscribe to an ultimate meaning.
II. HOW TO LIVE ACCORDINGLY
Most individuals and communities discern right from wrong behavior by a code of values, morality or ethics on how to live according to their understanding of the ultimate meaning of life.
1. Describe how your understanding of the ultimate meaning of life is applied through a code of ethics or morality. How does your religion or belief ask you to live according to their understanding of the ultimate meaning of life? What is the basis (source of rules, norms and traditions) for this?
2. If you do not understand or do not have an ultimate meaning of life, what is your code of values, morality or personal ethics based on?
3. How are your values or ethics and those of your community of religion or belief expressed through politics to the public-at-large? Do representatives of your religion or belief guide or instruct their members on how to apply ethics and morality to politics? Explain.
4. How do you give expression to your ultimate meaning of life through cultural esthetics- such as sacred or secular music, art and dance? If you have no ultimate meaning of life how do you express this through the arts and culture?
III. INTOLERANCE AND DISCRIMINATION
Freedom to manifest one’s religion or belief may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health, morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others – Article 18 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
1. Morals derives from many social, philosophical and religious traditions according to the UN Human Rights Committee. What restrictions are based on morality?
2. Identify aspects of your tradition that create conflicts with other religions or beliefs with a different view of the ultimate meaning of life.
3. Can fundamentalist or extreme views based on a religion or belief be reconciled with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights without conflicting with each other?
4. Separation of Religion or Belief & State (SOROBAS) is a phrase based on UN General Comment 22, Article 18 - International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Explain why and how it can be upheld in Constitutions when a religion or belief is an official arm of the State.
* “Religion explains the
ultimate meaning of life and how to live accordingly,” is a saying credited to
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, at the Alliance of Civilizations Madrid Forum said; “never in our lifetime has there been a more desperate need for constructive and committed dialogue, among individuals, among communities, among cultures, among and between nations.”
Genuine dialogue on human rights and freedom of religion or belief calls for respectful discourse, discussion of taboos and clarity by persons of diverse beliefs. Inclusive dialogue includes people of theistic, non-theistic and atheistic beliefs, as well as the right not to profess any religion or belief. The warning signs are clear, unless there is genuine dialogue ranging from religious fundamentalism to secular dogmatism; conflicts in the future will probably be even more deadly.
In 1968 the UN deferred work on an International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Religious Intolerance because of its complexity and sensitivity. Violence, suffering and discrimination based on religion or belief in many part of the world is greater than ever. It is time for a UN Working Group to draft what they deferred in 1968, a comprehensive core international human rights treaty-a United Nations Convention on Freedom of Religion or Belief: United Nations History – Freedom of Religion or Belief
The challenge to religions or beliefs at all levels is awareness, understanding and acceptance of international human rights standards on freedom of religion or belief. Leaders, teachers and followers of all religions or beliefs, with governments, are keys to test the viability of inclusive and genuine dialogue in response to the UN Secretary General’s urgent call for constructive and committed dialogue.
The Tandem Project title, Separation of Religion or Belief and State (SOROBAS), reflects the far-reaching scope of UN General Comment 22 on Article 18, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Human Rights Committee (CCPR/C/21/Rev.1/Add.4). The General Comment on Article 18 interprets this international rule of law as a guide for peaceful cooperation, respectful competition and resolution of conflicts. See General Comment 22 on Article 18, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Surely one of the best hopes for humankind is to embrace a culture in which religions and other beliefs accept one another, in which wars and violence are not tolerated in the name of an exclusive right to truth, in which children are raised to solve conflicts with mediation, compassion and understanding.
We welcome ideas on how this can be accomplished; email@example.com.
THE TANDEM PROJECT PROPOSALS
Proposals for constructive, long-term solutions to conflicts based on religion or belief:
(1) Develop a model local-national-international
integrated approach to human rights and freedom of religion or belief,
appropriate to legal systems and cultures of each country, as follow-up to the Universal Periodic Review. See
The Tandem Project is a non-governmental organization (NGO) founded in 1986 to build understanding, tolerance and respect for diversity, and to prevent discrimination in matters relating to freedom of religion or belief. The Tandem Project has sponsored multiple conferences, curricula, reference materials and programs on Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights – Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion - and 1981 United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief.
The Tandem Project: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Tandem Project is a UN NGO in Special Consultative Status with the
Economic and Social Council of the United Nations