THE BEST GOVERNMENT TO RELIGION IS ONE THAT DOES NOT INTERFERE WITH PEOPLE’S BELIEFS AND PRACTICES

The subject of right and wrong, blessing and sin in religion is not a state matter. The wages of doing wrong and sin is established by the religion and not by the state. In theist religion sin and wrong doing is punished by god.

When a state takes it upon itself to intervene to determine what is wrong and right in religious practice, it ends up playing god on earth by forcing people to do things that are against their free will and beliefs. Faith without free will to hold and practice one’s belief is void. This causes alienation and increases sectarian divides.

Inter -faith and intra- faith dialogues are the only legitimate avenue to settle non antagonistic differences. The best way to promote peace is to tolerate diversity instead of suppressing one side and forcing it to submit to the will of the other.

The decision made by the state to allow people in one side of the country to pray on Tuesday while others in another part were forced to turn back by security forces reveals the same double standards that are being fought against are being perpetrated in the name of enforcing proper religious practice. This is the danger of utilising a mundane force to deal with religious contradictions. The method to handle inconsistencies would end up reflecting personal whims and caprices. It is intolerance that is leading to sectarian strife and killings.

Senegal and Gambia are free from this because of tolerance of diverse sects and the protection given by the state to all who adopt peaceful and tolerant methods to teach and practice their beliefs. The freedom to hold on to and practice one’s religion or belief is a fundamental right that is protected in all genuine secular Republican constitutions. Redress for any violation of such rights could be pursued at the high court as far as the Gambia is concerned.

There should be no compulsion in religion is a principle.