religion, rights, social justice


human rights + responsibilities

Human rights - basic rights + freedoms of all human beings. ONLY possible if people acknowledge responsibility to respect + help provide for rights of others

social justice - ensuring society treats people fairly - involves protecting everyone's human rights


1948 - Universal declaration of Human rights were adopted

Government is OBLIGED to provide these rights for people living in the UK

Examples of human rights: a fair trial, education, marriage, life, liberty, security, privacy - Humans have right to freedom of speech, but the responsibility to say something that doesnt cause offence

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Social Justice - Christian views

  • There are many teachings in the Bible about the importance of social justice + caring for others 
  • Old Testament prophets - quick to condemn injustice - fairer society. E.G. "Let justice roll on like a river and righteousness like a never-failing stream" - Amos 5:24
  • Jesus stressed need to help others - "love your neighbours as yourself" - Mark 12:31


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Social Justice - Buddhist views

  • Buddha taught that while suffering is inevitable, at the same time people should try to relieve the suffering of others.
  • Buddhists can do this through social justice projects - expresses compassion + brings communities together 
  • Engaged Buddhism - Movement in Buddhism - uses Buddha's teachings to tackle social issues 
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Prejudice + discrimination

Equality - having equal rights, status + opportunities

Christianity teaches - all people r equal - created in God's image 

Despite this - still examples of prejudice + discrimination towards women + homosexuals

Prejudice - holding biased opinions about an individual/group of people - based on ignorance + stereotypes

discrimination - actions/behaviour from prejudiced views

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prejudice + discrimination - Christian views

  • Early christianity - women not allowed to be leaders of church
  • "Women should remain silent in the churches [...] for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church." - 1 Corinthians 14:34-35
  • Catholic + Orthodox church - still DON'T allow women to be Priests. Argue men and women - equal but have different roles
  • Other Christian denominations - happy to ordain women - Church should adapt to reflect importance of equality in today's society
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prejudice + discrimination - Buddhist views

  • Buddha ordained nuns - at first - reluctant
  • Today - some Buddhist traditions ordain men + women equallly - Trirtana Buddhist Order
  • Dalai Lama said - thought there was no reason why a future Dalai Lama could not be a woman 
  • some traditional Buddhist schools DON't allow women to be fully ordained 
  • Theravada Buddhism - nuns NOT given same respect + recognition as monks
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Sexuality - Christian + Buddhist views

Christian views

  • Some Christians think heterosexual relationships that lead to procreation - what god intended - "be fruitful and increase in number" - Genesis 1:28 and 2:24
  • believe homosexual relationships are sinful 
  • others think - homosexual relationships - morally acceptable - not loving to condemn people for sexual orientation 

Buddhist views 

  • Buddhist scriptures say very little about homosexuality , and no Buddhist teaching says homosexual relationships  are wrong 
  • Many Buddhists - moral precepts apply to any couple
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Religious Freedom

  • Christians + Buddhist generally believe people should have freedom of religion (right to practice whatever religion one chooses), including freedom of religious expression - practising + preaching + worshipping in whatever way
  • included in human rights: "Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to [...] manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance."     

In Britain today:

  • Christianity is the main religious tradition 
  • no1 is forced to be a Christian - government protects freedom of religious expression
  • gives every1 right to choose religion/not have 1
  • laws forbid persecution of any faith 


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religious freedom - Christian views

  • Christian teaching encourages tolerance + harmony
  • different Christian denominations fighting each other/ other religions - not allowed in Bible
  • "If it is possible [...] live at peace with everyone." - Romans 12:18
  • "Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love" Ephesians 4:2
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religious freedom - Buddhist views

  • The Buddha encouraged people to listen to the teachers of other religions with respect
  • very few Buddhist traditions try to persuade others to become Buddhist 
  • In Buddhist countries - people are usually free to practice Buddhism as little or as much as they wish
  • "I always say that every person on this earth has the freedom to practise or not practise religion. It is all right to do either." Dalai Lama
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contrast to religious freedom

Despite the fact that Christianity both encourage tolerance and harmony- there have been examples in recent years where Christians and Buddhists havent been able to live in harmony with people from other denominations/religions:

Northern Ireland - different religious + political views - caused conflict for many years between Protestant and Catholics

Myanmar - some Buddhists have shown intolerance + encouraged violence towards muslims

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Disability - Christian views

  • Christians oppose discrimination against disabled people - does not demonstrate equality or love
  • in the Bible - Jesus helped the disabled by healing them, and he taught his followers to "love your neighbour as yourself" (Mark 12:31)
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Disability - Buddhist views

  • No explicit teachings on disability - but general attitude of Karuna (compassion) applies to those who are suffering in any way, including disabled people 
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Racism - Christian views

  • Most Christians oppose racism - all people r equal - "There is neither Jew nor gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male or female, for you are one in Christ Jesus" - Galatians 3:28
  • The actions of Christians such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and Martin Luther King Junior, persuaded the government that the racist policies put upon them were unfair and needed to be changed 
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Racism - Buddhist views

  • The principle of loving kindness means racism is not acceptable to most Buddhists 
  • Loving kindness should be developed towards all people without discrimination 
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Christian views on wealth

  • Bible teaches that wealth- blesssing from God
  • also teaches - wealth associated with greed + selfishness
  • "for the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil." 1 Timothy 6:10
  • Jesus did not teach - wrong to be wealthy - but focusing on wealth - danger of ignoring god + neglecting spirirual life
  • "You cannot serve both God and money." Matthew 25:31-64
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Buddhist views on wealth

  • does not matter how wealthy someone is - but how they got their money , their attitude towards it + what they do with it
  • Buddha grew up in luxury - later lived simple life 
  • traditionally monks + nuns live simple life with little or no money 
  • letting go of wealth - overcoming attachment  - spirtiual obstacle
  • ordinary Buddhists need to earn their livelihood but at same time follow ethical precepts 
  • Buddha taught happiness not achieved through craving + accumulating wealth - but through enlightenment
  • "By action, knowledge and Dhamma, by virtue and noble way of life - by these are mortals purified, not by lineage or wealth." The Buddha 
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christian views on using wealth

  • while everyone needs money, Christians believe those with excess - give to the poor/upkeep of church
  • wealth sould be used to help people in need 
  • in Bible - parable of rich man + Lazarus ends with rich man in hell for not sharing - Luke 16:19-31
  • parable of sheep + goats states that those who help poor are rewarded with a place in heaven 
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Buddhist views on using wealth

  • The Adiya Sutta says a person can use wealth for 3 purposes:
  • 1. to provide pleasure + satisfaction for themselves, family + friends 
  • 2. to keep themselves safe 
  • 3. to give offerings to monks, nuns or the poor 
  • Buddhism places a lot of emphasis on using one's wealth to benefit others
  • it is also important to give freely without expecting anything in return
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  • Many people in world live in poverty - without money, food or basic necessities 
  • some of the causes include debt, unemployment, exploitation + natural disasters
  • while many Christians + Buddhists believe it is important to help those living in poverty, they also think the poor have a responsibility to help themselves out of poverty if they are able 
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causes of poverty

  • Debt - many of the poorest countries owe money to wealthier countries, which they have borrowed for such things as health care and education. It's also the reason why individual people go into poverty, E.G. if they can't pay back money they owe to bank
  • Unemployment - 1 of the main causes of poverty in UK, as not every1 is able to find work/is fit to work 
  • Natural disasters - flooding, drought + other natural disasters - common. They can destroy crops + properties - leaving people w no food/shelter
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responsibilities of those living in poverty

  • "The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat"- 2 Thessalonians 3:10. must get a job, although, Christians believe it is also important to help those who need assistance.
  • Christians encourage the poor to help themselves by finding work, but realise some are unable to do so.
  • Buddhism teaches all poverty deserves compassion - people also have responsibility to help themselves to create the conditions needed for a healthy life 
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exploitation of poor

exploitation - misuse of power to get people to do things for little or no reward

fair pay

Christian response

  • Most christians support fair pay for every1 as this contributes to an equal and just society
  • "do not exploit the poor because they are poor ." proverbs 22:22

Buddhist response

  • Consider it important to balance profit with ethics
  • Taking worker's time and energy without paying fair wage goes against 2nd moral precept 
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Excessive interest on loans

Buddhist views 

  • Buddhism teaches - making money from exploiting poor - example of greed + against 2nd moral precept 
  • also teaches that each person has a responsibility to create conditions for healthy life - includes not getting into debt if they can help it 
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Christian views 

  • people trafficking goes against Jesus' teaching to 'love your neighbour as yourself'

Buddhist views

  • It is against the Buddhist moral precepts 
  • although people - trafficking may not have been an issue when the Buddha was alive, he criticised the caste system in India, which exploited the poor and forced them to work in bad conditions for little money
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giving money to the poor

  • 2 main ways to help the poor - short-term aid (immediate help, short term survival) or long-term aid (help over a longer period of time, has a more lasting effect 
  • Many Christians + Buddhists try to help provide both types of aid, by supporting charities + campaigns that help those living in poverty
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short term aid

short-term aid

  • definition: help given to communities in a time of disaster or crisis. Help given directly to the poor to relieve their immediate needs. Also called emergency aid
  • Examples: providing supplies of food + water after an earthquake, giving money directly to homeless people on the streets 
  • pros: important for survival in the short term, displays compassion + kindness
  • cons: does not tackle underlying cause of poverty, can make people reliant whoever is giving out the aid 
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long term aid

Long Term Aid 

  • definition: help given to communities over a longer period of time, which has a more lasting effect
  • examples: providing education to help people find better-paid work, providing farmers with tools to improve their efficiency 
  • pros: helps people to become more self reliant, helps to solve the root causes of poverty 
  • cons: may take time to have an effect, does not help with short term survival
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christian responses

  • Christians believe they have been given a responsibility by God to look after the world + the poor.
  • Jesus' teachings mean they have a duty to show compassion + to "love your neighbour as yourself"
  • Many Christians try to balance providing immediate help to those in poverty with helping people to use their own gifts + talents to get themselves out of poverty 
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Buddhist responses to poverty

  • Generosity + compassion are important values for Buddhists 
  • The Buddha taught that Budhhists should give freely, without expecting anything in return
  • for many Buddhists it is also to give what will be of genuine help. This means some Buddhists might prefer not to give money directly to homeless people, as they cannot be sure how the money will be spent. They may prefer to give to a homeless charity instead

Christians + Buddhists might donate to charities such as CAFOD or the Karuna Trust 

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