Crime In Religion

Crime in religion is unfortunately an everyday fact that occurs around our world while millions of people are unaware of it. Religious crimes date back through ancient times and they have been a global problem since mankind can recall. Fortunately, there have been many countries that have opened their arms and humans have found refugee. Others, however, are the cause of these persecutions due to the fact that their governments lack a justice system that protects these crimes against religions.

Analyzing the beginning of human civilization we come across two factors that have always played a role. Those two factors are crime and religion. Man, since we can recall, must feel that it has the power to rule fearlessly. That is why when a group of people decide to put men's beliefs aside and follow a religion or a deity of their own, conflict emerges as fast as explosive granite. For this reason, presently we have so many crimes related to religion because some humans oppose others who have a different point of view. Humans feel the need to be accepted and when that can't be accomplished they go to extreme measurements to reach their goal. It is a shame that we must see crimes in every aspect of our lives. Even when we think religion would be the solution to uphold humanity and make it peaceful, the total opposite takes place. But this is not the worst part. Sometimes religion contributes to violence since some religions teach the concept of self sacrifice. In our world we have witnessed this in many occasions; such as suicide bombers who kill instantly hundreds of people. A perfect example of this is the 911 incident when the hijackers who were responsible for killing over 2,000 people were following their Al- Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden's religious teachings. It is very appalling to see how religion and crime go together like salt and pepper. That is why for the sake of humanity we must put an end to all this violence, especially persecuting human beings because of religion. A way to ending religious persecution is yet to come but in the meantime one must ask; what are the most notable current examples of religious persecution? Could they have been prevented? What should be done in their aftermath?

Notable current examples of religious persecution, according to the great author Paul Marshall, are to be found all around the world. Starting from Islamic to communist countries, worldwide there are constant religious crimes. Direct state persecution, which means persecution by the government, is seen in Saudi Arabia where any non- Islamic or dissident Islamic religious expression is forbidden (Marshall, 1998). Christian meetings are banned, worship services are extremely cracked. Any Saudi person who seeks to leave the Islam faith aces the real prospect of death (Marshall, 1998). One would not think that in the 21st Century we would still have countries where their own governments are the ones in charge of religious persecution. Saudi Arabia for example, has a theocracy which means that it is actually a religion that rules the ways of that country, and if one is not a part of it, one's own life would be in danger. Unfortunately and gravely this is not the only country in the world where religion faces persecution. This goes back to the questions asked before, how can those crimes be prevented if the government is actually behind it. These are the problems that are going on in our world and millions of people have no clue about it. It is incredible that more than 200 millions of people in over 60 nations are being denied their basic human rights for only one reason: they are Christians. The world cannot keep going on like this. People must be aware of what is going on regardless of whether they have faith or not. The justice system in those countries must stand up, clean up their civil laws and let basic human rights take place.

Religious crimes vary depending on the religion; such as whether you are a Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, etc…, gender and race. According to Marshall in his article, “The Current State of Religious Freedom,” there are many countries that contribute to their very own religious crimes. For example, China, Tibet, and Vietnam all have Buddhist backgrounds but because of their communist regime which is based on atheistic material; religious persecution takes place (Marshall, 2001). It all depends on the time and place you are in. Another example is the country of Turkey which has an Islamic background but ironically the present day government suppresses aggressively any type of peaceful Muslim expression (Marshall, 2001). It is shocking to see that countries with historical religious backgrounds have been forced to change their religion because of government oppression. Once the government has taken over, who would really be able to change anything? Unfortunately, taking religion seriously, according to Marshall, can open up doors to great conflict. Religion shapes culture, having different views of human life; therefore, they start to oppose one another (Marshall, 2001). So as one can understand, it does not matter whether or not a country has historically been based on any religion. Times could change and so does the government. So there is no real protection and religious freedom, even though it's an essential part in the human rights guide. One can just hope that countries will follow the U.N.'s position to follow the human rights guide. That way, many unpleasant moments for many people around the globe could be prevented.

If there was a way to end religious crimes, then much worldwide hurt could be avoided. Fortunately, there are many organizations that attempt to make a difference and have done what all of us should do. We start off with the United Nations which of course has had an involvement in putting an end to religious persecution. There are three major issues that the U.N. has listed in their section of religious crimes. According to the U.N.'s current section of religious persecution we see that a Catholic former Portuguese colony was annexed by Islamic Indonesia shortly after its independence, for assistance to the Palestinian people. A discussion of the report of the special committee was held to investigate Israeli's practices affecting the human rights of the Palestinian people and other Arabs in the occupied territories. Lastly, the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the war crimes Tribunal to the former Yugoslavia Republic have also been crime factors. These are many examples of current issues that humankind should not be facing. As time proceeds, technology gets better, science advances, new governments are being reformed, and wars are breaking out due to religious persecutions. It is a shame that with the limited power the U.N. has, it hasn't been able to fully solve the problem of religious crimes. One of the biggest factor the U.N. states for religious persecution activities, are culture factors. As mentioned before, sovereignty of the state plays a major key role in how religion is viewed. In countries where a theocracy is the way of life, there is not much a citizen can do but obey the rules its government and its religion. Political debate can emerge as a result of religious persecution, as mentioned by Castelli (2007). Besides the U.N. contribution to end religious persecution, there are a million of other organizations that help out too. Out of those thousands organizations, a recognizable one is the Voice of the Martyrs or VOM as is more widely known throughout the world. This is a Christian organization that raises awareness about the hundreds of thousands of humans who are tortured, killed, thrown in prison, and harassed each year worldwide simply because they are Christian. Many Christian churches worldwide participate in missionary activities hosted by VOM. The most interesting fact regarding VOM is that it was founded by Richard Wurmbrand. When the USSR took over Romania in 1944, Mr. Wurmbrand was imprisoned for 14 years, just for preaching. In jail he was deeply touched for what had happened to him and decided to start this organization to help out the persecuted. Every time one hears, reads, and sees these stories it just breaks one's heart. Mr. Wurmbrand's passion led him to create a very knowledgeable organization that has very much touched the lives of millions of people who are devoted to reading the articles, in order to obtain a global perspective on what is going on in the world regarding crime and religion. It helps to look into a window that is very controversial and needs worldwide attention.

After these religious crimes have taken place and human lives have been greatly affected, a lot has to be done to restore them. Religious persecutions do not just take place in a certain area but around the world. Here in the U.S. we have been very privileged to have religious freedom. This country was founded by people searching for religious freedom because they were being persecuted in their own country. Thankfully this country has maintained its religious freedom as one of the most essential principles in the constitution. Unfortunately, since we do not have a first hand experience on religious persecution in this country, many fail to recognize that there are countries out there going through these problems. Because the U.S. is such a great nation people take for granted what they have and do not have a global perspective of what is going on in the world. As humans, we shall not let this happen to us. We must get documented and informed on global issues. We need to become knowledgeable on the many religious persecutions that are going on in the world and try to be part of something to avoid it, stop it once and for all. Edd Doerr a humanist writer had the privileged to attend a Madrid conference regarding religious freedom in education. As future criminal justice specialists we must be aware of the right of religious expression people should have today around the globe. Here in the United States we have the first amendment that protects all citizens living in the U.S. from any religious persecutions, crimes and discriminations (Neubauer, 2008). Our criminal justice system is set out in a way that protects the people from cruel and unusual punishment and that prevents a lot of religious crimes. People have a right to express their beliefs and even share it with others without the fear of being punished. Take for example the 1940 Supreme Court case Cantwell v. Connecticut (Neubauer, 2008). Newton Cantwell and his two sons were Jehovah witnesses who were going door to door distributing pamphlets and books to people and advertising their religion. The people of Connecticut became upset with their behavior and filed a lawsuit against them. This court case went all the way up to the Supreme Court who ruled that Cantwell's actions were protected by the first and fourteenth amendment. The first amendment states that we have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness while the fourteenth amendment guarantees protection of people within their jurisdiction (Naubeauer, 2008). If we compare the United States with the countries we mentioned before we see a huge difference in the role that crimes plays in religion. The U.S. was founded by people who were escaping religious persecution; therefore, they took the time and dedication to make sure crime in religion does not take place. We also find in our criminal justice system the 1947 Supreme Court case Everson v. Board of Education (Naubeauer, 2008). This court case was a landmark decision depicting that congress has no right to prohibit the free exercise of religious freedom. The citizens living in the United States have the right to exercise their beliefs without the fear of any crimes against them. But unfortunately around our globe many people do not have the privilege of experiencing what we have here in the U.S. That is why it is important to make people aware of religious crimes. One attempt to stop religious crimes is by implementing in our school system a curriculum that teaches profoundly to future law enforcement officers the basic rights of humans and making religious freedom one of our essential rights, in order to eliminate religious persecutions. As written by Mr. Doerr, “to enlist schools throughout the world, to eliminate intolerance and discrimination based on religion or belief would promote protection and respect of religion and strengthen peace, understanding and tolerance among individuals, groups, and nations with a developing respect of human rights (Doerr, 2002). If these views and ideas could be implemented in every school system worldwide there would probably be world peace and humans would not have to be worrying about the aftermath of what to do after these crimes have taken place. By training law enforcement officers we are preparing for the future and constructing a better society free of religious crimes. A better way to end religious persecution completely would be by making people around the world more aware of what is going on and by helping those have been gravely affected by these persecutions. We need to let them know that as world citizens we stand by their side to help them.

After having answered what are the most notable current examples of religious persecution, whether they could have been prevented or not and what to do in their aftermath, one can conclude that it is time to take the global issue of religious crimes seriously. It should not matter what religion one belongs to or whether or not one even believes in one; human lives should be respected and people should be free to choose any religion without being afraid. There are many current global issues going on, but religious crimes should not be one of them; for religion should soothe and bring forth peace and comfort among citizens instead of triggering crimes. A solution to the termination of religious crimes would be for us, as citizens of the world, to make a stand for religious freedom for nations to come together and respect each other. The best way to start is through education. By training future law enforcement officer against the awful reality of religious crimes, we could minimize the number of humans around the world who are being persecuted because of their beliefs. It is crucially important for countries around the globe to adopt the criminal justice system the U.S. has against religious crimes. It is something they must implement in order for people around the world to obtain the basic human rights and respect for any belief they might have, no matter what they are. Many have lost their legs, arms, and even their lives or those of their family members, due to religious crimes. But it is not too late for countries to become aware of this and at least put a grain of sand to end this. Their sacrifice would not be in vain but it would make countries aware of the courage many have had to stand up for what they believe in even if one cannot understand it. All it takes is the right court system to uphold justice against these religious crimes.


Castelli, Elizabeth A. (2007). Persecution Complexes: Identity Politics and the “War Christians.” Differences, 18(3), 152- 80.

Doerr, Edd (2002). A Groundbreaking Declaration. The Humanist, 62 (2), 43-3.

Marshall, Paul (2001). The Current State of Religious Freedom. International Bulletin of Missionary Research, 25(2), 64-6.

Marshall, Paul (2001). The First Freedom Under Siege. The First Things, 112. 18-20.

Marshall, Paul (1998). Persecution of Christians in the Contemporary World. International Bulletin of Missionary Research, 22, 2-8.

Neubauer, David W (2008). America's Courts and the Criminal Justice System. Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth.