What are the specific difficulties and challenges that Sullivan addresses in her article?
Many people seem to think that any discussion on religion should take either of the two sides. One option is to sell religion to the people while the other option is to sell it out. This leaves out other options, including the choice to converse about religion and understand different points of view. Sullivan notes that there is often confusion in law on matters regarding the freedom of religion. This confusion is brought about by the different perspectives that law and religion has concerning the subject of religion. This has led to situations whereby the courts use limited and binding definitions when ruling on matters concerning religions. This has not helped to advance the role of religion, or make clear the position that religion should have in people’s lives.
Many people view religion to mean the same thing to people of different faiths. However, there are clear differences in trying to define what religion means to different people. Even people with the same religious backgrounds have differences in terms of how they practice their faith since religion does not mean the same thing to all people. Therefore, categorical definitions and the setting of boundaries become some of the most challenging factors when trying to understand religion. Sullivan notes that defining religion in the traditional sense fails to acknowledge any existing differences that may have occurred historically, or have been enabled by geographical and cultural differences. There are differences among different religions, as well as within the same religious circles.
The challenges encountered in matters concerning religion extend to learning institutions as well. Institutions of higher learning such as colleges are beginning to redefine their study of religion. Some assert that the only way to deal with the conflicting understanding of religion is to regard it in pluralistic terms. Therefore, they avoided courses and subjects such as the contemporary study of religion and they are embracing titles such as religious studies or the history of religions. This is meant to emphasize the fact that there are varying differences in the term ‘religion’. Controversies surround the inclusion of creationism in learning. Some people advocate for the inclusion of creationism, while others call out for its exclusion since it is not scientific.
One of the major challenges concerns substantial burden to religion. This comprises of identifying the qualification of exercising religion. Courts have often had to determine what religious practices should continue in face of the changing times. In some cases, some religious practices may seem outdated and cruel to people of other faiths in light of the changing times. The courts have often had to deal with determining how the traditional religious practices will continue in such a way that the followers do not contravene the law. The courts recognize this as one of the major problems that they have.
Another challenge constitutes the importance and role of religion in people’s lives. People have different opinions regarding the importance of religion. Some posit that it is fundamental in their well-being and proper functioning. Others hold a different view. Historically, people have used religion to oppress others. This has led to the decision by some people to oppose religion and to neglect it as part of their lives. Others have communicated religion as the main liberator that people need. Those holding this opinion will fight to have their individual religious freedom recognized.
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