Religion has undoubtedly been a controversial issue for centuries in all parts of the world. A great deal of the controversial issues stem from conflicting views of different religions, as well as legislature in specific countries which governs the religious rights and practices of its citizens. Unsurprisingly, such legislature is met with resistance since citizens from any given country come from a wide variety of different religious backgrounds.

A recent article based on the religious requests of Israeli Christians illustrates this well. Israel, known for having a disproportionately high Jewish and Muslim population, has been criticized in the past by the U.S. State Department for failing to guarantee the rights of all Christians living there. Israeli legislature, the Knesset, just recently voted to give Christians a seat on the Equal Employment Opportunities advisory council, despite Christian’s presence in the country for centuries. Although indigenous Christians are exempt from military service, there is a growing number who become part of the forces on a volunteer basis. This trend stems from a desire to integrate more into the larger Israeli society – where Christians often feel like second-class citizens.

Volunteering to protect their home country is one way that Christians integrate themselves into the larger Israeli society. They state that if they don’t integrate, they will remain marginalized. While the Israeli government supports this trend, it is faced with backlash and even harassment from Muslims and even other Christians.

This is an important issue in the realm of world religions because it could be the start of a devastating catastrophe. If cases of violence towards Israeli Christian Soldiers continue, the citizens could see the breakout of a war. Furthermore, it clearly represents a lack of knowledge or ignorance towards religious diversity. People need to understand and accept that a person’s religion does not define them as a citizen of their country.  The fact of the matter is that these men are being honorable and fighting for their homeland. I find it absolutely despicable that they are facing harassment and violence based solely on their religion.  This clearly illustrates the need for teaching religious studies, as it would create a population of people with a more accepting view of diversity in the realm of religion. Finally, with a greater understanding and acceptance of other religions, hopefully the citizens will come to encourage the honorable job the soldiers are performing, regardless of their religious beliefs.

 

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AW

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