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The Necessity Of A Legal Yard Stick To Measure The Behavior Of Religions

Religious law means rituals or traditions that have been practiced by people for centuries. At the same time, Religious violence is not only limited to the acts committed by religious groups but also include the acts which are committed against the religious groups, objects or institutions. Most of the people think that religion helps to reduce the crime rate. On the other hand, it can also be said that the conflicts arise between people of different religions due to various kind of reasons can lead to hate crimes.

According to Article 18 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights �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, worship and observance'.[1]

The aim of this study is to understand the religious laws and religious crimes in developed and developing countries and suggesting necessary measures that can be taken to prevent such crimes. When seeking remedies for this problem it was clearly visible that the responsibility of avoiding religious crimes belong to all the people in the world in order to intelligently utilize the freedom given by article 18 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights.[2] This research has used qualitative, quantitative, conceptual, fundamental, empirical, analytical and descriptive research types with the sources like articles, journals and internet.

Religion can be simply described as a certain set of fundamental beliefs and practices followed by a particular group of people. In early stages, religion was considered no difference from mythology and contained regular rituals based on faith in higher supernatural entities who believed to be created and continued to maintain the world and the universe.

However, with time it has developed as an instrument that brings mental peace and satisfaction with certain faith, drifting away from blindly following myths. Furthermore, the ultimate common factor of all religions can be considered as consisting of the way people should deal with the concerns about life and their fate after life. All in all, it can be described that the main purpose of all the religious laws is to maintain the social uniformity and it teaches everyone should show respects to the individuals in the society irrespective of their own beliefs.

This research paper is based on the type of non-doctrinal research/socio-legal research. Since this is an investigation of relationship between religious laws and religious crimes, this would utilize qualitative, quantitative, conceptual, fundamental, descriptive and analytical research methods. Information gathered through the secondary sources such as journals, articles and websites.

Religion and religious crimes

Religious crimes can be described as activities which might insult the beliefs or opinions of people belong in to particular religion or which might establish a negative impact on them. In other words, something is a religious crime if anyone think that incident was carried out because of the hostility based on the religion.

Since the beginning of human civilization, man had the urge to take control over others. This is the reason whenever a group of people decide to put men's beliefs aside and follow a god of their own or a religion, conflicts arise. Mankind by nature has the sense that need to be accepted and if that cannot be fulfilled, they intend to take extreme measures to reach their desire. As of this, presently it can be found so many offences related to religion because some humans are against others who have different vision from them. Even though it seems that religion is the basis to uphold the humanity and peace, the total opposite can happen.

Many studies have shown that religions are very helpful in managing the mindset of the human beings in a positive way and in reducing the criminal activities. Bicknese in 1999 found that the prisoners who read the Bible were less likely to be re-arrested in their first two to three years when they get release from the prisons and they were less likely to commit crimes under prison rehabilitation programs.[1]

The research conducted by Kerley, Matthews and Schulz have shown that the inmates who are heavily involved in religious rehabilitation programs in the prisons are less likely to commit crimes and helps to decrease the arguments and struggles related to earning a livelihood.[2] However, the study of Johnson in 1987 showed that the religion does not make any positive impacts regarding the criminal activities and this showed that there was no any distinction between non-religious and religious criminals.[3]

Religious crimes do not generally occur spontaneously. The process leading to them take time and show warning signs. Distribution of hate speech can be considered as one of the most common signs of these crimes. It includes messages in public discourse and the media, which spread hostility and encourage people to execute violence against particular community, frequently based on religion. It can be a onetime incident or an ongoing campaign of harassment.

But the worst part is that some religions contribute to violence by teaching the concept of self-sacrifice, such as suicide bombers who kill hundreds of people immediately. It can be stated that religion and crime go hand in hand and the world has witnessed such real-life incidents in many occasions. Recently, two consecutive massive shootings occurred at two mosques during Friday prayers in Christchurch, New Zealand in 2019. This was conducted by single gunman due to hatred on Islam which resulted killing 51 people and injuring 40 others.

Another incident occurred on April 2019, during Easter services in three churches and three hotels situated in Sri Lanka. Later in the same day there were another two small explosions in different areas as well. Total 267 people were killed and at least 500 were injured during the first wave of the attack. It was suspected that this was a revenge attack against Christchurch mosque shootings occurred on March in the same year. From these several incidents it is shown that religions have sometimes been used opposed to its original intention, justifying motivation to violence and discrimination.

Since violent activities in a religion does not start at the birth of that particular religion, the cure can be found from where the curse started.

Firstly, Religious leaders play a significant role in influencing the behavior of those who share the same beliefs; therefore, they should be mindful about what they teach and it is the responsibility of the religious leaders to prevent such misuses of religions. In order to fulfill that purpose, the religious leaders should be motivated to teach according to their conscience based on the morality and it should be done under the attention of an organized entity.

Secondly, even though laws have been enacted against religious discrimination in developed and developing countries, there is no proper specific laws enacted or steps taken internationally which will assure a world without religious violence. It can be suggested that it is effective to document the religions under a recognized international entity and guidelines should be imposed for religions. A separate law which is different from common crimes should be introduced for this purpose, as the religious crimes are more powerful when they are committed with a strong faith. Moreover, there should be a separate international court to hear the cases related to religious violence as these cases can be caused to terrorism.

Finally, under the corporation of above-mentioned entity, inter faith organizations and ceremonies can be recommended as another efficient way to create the co-existence among the religions.

As article 18[1] of Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, each and every person in this world has the freedom of religion and it is unalienated. However, some are being humiliated, discriminated, stopped and are even killed for following their own faith. Not only that, some religions teach the concept of suicide, which will not only harm them but the community at large. If the teachings of the religions focus more on respecting each other's faith, not spreading its own religion, then automatically many of the hate crimes will decrease. Even though the religious crimes have been happening in the world for decades, it is pretty much ignored. Hence, the relationship between religious laws and religious crimes should need more awareness with the present situation and the responsibility to minimize the religious crimes is with every single person and all the international organizations instead of misusing the freedom given by Article 18 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

  1. Christchurch Mosque Shootings (BBC News)
  2. Crime in Religion (Law Teacher)
  3. Neff J, �He Hated All His Neighbors But Killed Only Muslim Students� (The Marshall ProjectJune 13, 2019)
  4. Nolo, �Laws against Religious Discrimination� (www.lawfirms.comDecember 26, 2012)
  5. Plan Of Action for Religious Leaders and Actors TO PREVENT Incitement to Violence that Could Lead to Atrocity Crimes' ( )> accessed 25 February 2021
  6. Sharma, R., 2020. Religious law and crime in developing/developed nations. 1st ed. [ebook] p.7. Available at: [Accessed 25 February 2021].
  7. The Hindu, �Latest Sri Lanka Easter Bombings News, Photos, Latest News Headlines about Sri Lanka Easter Bombings� (The Hindu September 26, 2020)
  8. Universal Declaration of Human Rights' accessed 25 February 2021
  1. 'Universal Declaration of Human Rights' accessed 25 February 2021
  2. Sharma, R., 2020. Religious law and crime in developing/developed nations. 1st ed. [ebook] p.7. Available at: [Accessed 25 February 2021].
  3. Ibid
  4. Ibid
  5. Universal Declaration of Human Rights' accessed 25 February 2021
  6. Ibid

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