Does freedom of religion improve the political well-being of a nation?

Published By UNNGOF |  February 10, 2015

Religion is a belief with traditions and set facts that individuals hold or believe in and this affects their well being. Religion has taken center stage in many aspects of life that is social, political and economic being of individuals.

The universal Declaration of Human Rights provides that everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, wor¬ship and observance. This right is provided for every individual in any community of any nation and every nation domesticates this provision, for example Ugandan constitution provides for freedom of religion and even the penal Code makes it crime for anyone who sabotages one’s religion.

Diana Deck in her teaching says that the most challenges in the world is trying to deal with this notion of diversity of religion. This is true because we shall never understand each other’s religion but yet have to relate with them.

It is true that freedom of religion improves the political well being of a nation to the extent that first it is upholding the right to religion and this means that people will be happy with that leader who promotes freedom of religion. For example in Uganda, there are a number of religions like the Muslims, Christians, born-again people, hindu, traditionalist among others. What is so evident is that these religious sects uphold the Museveni’s Government for giving them freedom to worship, the Born-again Pentecoastals were in the past categorized as NGOs not until 2011 when they were declared religious bodies and hence they are no longer NGOs.

The impact of this is that Museveni has received positive response from these groups and that explains why it is hard for anyone to penetrate his political strength.

Because of the freedom of worship in Uganda, religious strife have not yet been seen since the promulgation of the 1995 Constitution, this has promoted peace and unity which a good thing for a nation.
When people have freedom to worship their God or gods, they have time and space to groom future leaders who are brought under certain beliefs which they exhibit later in their positions. For example in Uganda, most of the leaders belong to certain religious groups and when these politicians go back to their church leaders, they are counseled and advised by their pastors and Imams and priests and thus become better persons. This is all courtesy of the available space (freedom) of worship.

The promotion of freedom of religion promotes unity for a nation and it is noted that a peaceful nation with a happy people denotes good governance. Today, much as people are not very happy, at least they are happy that they can worship their God without any limitation and this has glued relationship between the state and the citizens. In 1970s, religious freedom was almost a myth as it is noted that the then President Iddi Amin wanted to impose Islam on everyone and the political environment was that it was extremely hard for people to practice their religions; as a result, people developed resentment to the president and thus this was the beginning of his fall because people were not happy on the restrictions so the political environment was very fragile.

Since it is agreed at least to Christians that leadership come from God, a leader who will promote worship to God will be respected by the people and thus he will be the people’s choice. This is evident in Uganda as since 1986 we have only one president in power and it is said that he has “granted” people the right ot worship their God/gods as even traditional healers are recognized, this shows that a leader who will allow people practice their beliefs will be the popular one.

In a nutshell, it is now evident that a peaceful state where people are free to worship their God will always be peaceful and leaders will face few or no resistances as to religious discrimination.

By Michael Aboneka Jr.
Support officer, Policy and Advocacy and also Associate Partner at Tegulle, Opoka & Co. Advocates