Freedom of Religion is an important principle, because it is still hard to achieve in some places where religion is a considered part of the social fabric. The purpose of religion of course is not social cohesion or to define a nation. It is spiritual enlightenment, which will produce socially responsible people (thus a diverse but cohesively compassionate society) by the way.
Any religion can be ‘real‘ but any could also be mere tradition. Much of the world’s religious activity is like the latter. What the human race needs is to separate spirituality from everything else and to hold it above everything else, including race, nation and norms.
What many of us think of as ‘religion’ today are actually just habits and rules made out of the spirituality of yesterday. Real religion is the spirituality of today, which of course can occur in any religion or outside of them as well. It occurs in the individual, privately. Only the positive results of spiritual life can be observed in the world. People need freedom to choose outward forms of religious practice that suit their inner spiritual practice. When individuals are actively encouraged to toil their outward religious life to their taste, things will go smoother in this world.
The religions are all great and the teachings are all valuable. However they shouldn’t come to dominate the freedom of the individual. He or she should always have avenues for self expression because this is important in growing and changing the world for the better.
I don’t look down on people that do mix faith and social principles, because life can be pretty chaotic at times and stability is valuable and rare.
More of a problem is the tendency to associate religion with race. As if the soul of a person was limited by his or her physical characteristics? This tendency thankfully is being replaced by more compassionate and progressive ones all the time.
On the whole we are confused about religion and its role in life. Actually we indicate all the time that we dont’ truly believe in religion, by being selective regarding which words of scripture to respect, and interpretting them in ways that just happen to coincide with our political ideologies and motivations. We need to see that real religion carries with it immeasurable boons for peace and prosperity, but we need to discover it.
Non-vegetarian Buddhists, Islamists and Christians who have little respect for human and animal life are all examples of people selecting parts of religions but missing the main points. Sorry! Of course there are many more people who truly practice their faiths, but they are pushed to the fringes of their faith (and society). This must happen because they carry their reality in their hearts whie the world often supports faith only so far as it supports the divisive nontions of race and nation. Real spirituality would cause us to unite regardless of these differences.
The need for social control will be less when there is more encouragement for citizens to practice whatever compassionate form of spirituality they choose. When people know themselves better they automatically become socially responsible. There’s no need to hold tightly on to this religion or that, in a rigid “you’re either in or your out, and if you’re in, you’d better be doing this” kind of thing.
The future will see an exponential expanding of mutual respect, compassion and understanding, as more and more people choose to include spirituality in their lives by introspecting and looking into the words of the sciptures (of any of the religions) more carefully.