The United Nations is the most important organisation in the world working for international peace and security. It has huge power and influence globally. However, could there be a time when the UN sees religion as a threat to world peace and moves against it? Is it possible that United Nations could ever ban religion?
The United Nations will never ban religion. Firstly, because upholding religious freedom is one of it’s core mandates and the UN does a lot of work stopping persecution of religious groups. Secondly, the UN has no desire to destroy religion and sees it as no threat to its objectives to achieve global peace and security.
In all honesty, even the idea that the United Nations could ban religion is preposterous. Almost no one in the world seriously believes this is something that it would, or even could do. But what is the UN’s position on religion? And why do some people actually think it will eventually destroy religion?
The United Nations Position on Religion
‘’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.’’Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948
Essentially this enshrines the freedom of religion into the core beliefs and tenants of the United Nations. It also shows that the UN put freedom of religion at the forefront of its mandate from almost its creation.
The United Nations actually went further, and in 1966 adopted the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Article 18 of which also guarantees the freedom of religion and belief. In 1981, the UN signed the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and Discrimination Based on Religion and Belief, that further still enshrines freedom of religion into the UN’s core beliefs.
All in all, we can see the United Nations’ stance on religion is to ensure everyone, wherever they are in the world, is free to practice their religion and hold their own beliefs, without prejudice or fear of persecution.
This definitely makes it clear the UN itself would definitely not ban religion or make moves to limit religious freedom around the world.
Why the United Nations Won’t Ban Religion?
Now we know what the United Nations official position is when it comes to religion, let’s look at why the UN would never ban religion in the world.
Firstly, the United Nations bases its work on human rights and individual freedoms. This is core to it’s mandate. As most people in the world want to be religious, for the UN to outlaw religion would go against its very foundations. It would be simply inconceivable at the UN would change so much from it’s original ideals to do something that would be so unpopular around the world.
Secondly, the UN does a huge amount of work globally assisting people who have been persecuted because of their religion. From the Muslim Rohingya’s forced to flee Myanmar to helping Yazidi victims of the genocide by ISIS, the United Nations actively works to ensure peoples religious beliefs are protected. There is no way the UN would move to persecute religious people itself.
Even if these examples aren’t enough to convince some people that UN would never want to destroy organised religion, it’s important to remember the United Nations wouldn’t even have the power to ban religion if it wanted to. The UN is an international diplomatic and law-making body, but it gets its power from member states. There isn’t a single country in the world that would allow the UN to ban religion and the UN simply doesn’t have its own legal powers to do so.
Another reason why the UN would never outlaw religion is because it doesn’t see organised religion as a threat. Billions of people around the world adhere to different religious beliefs but religious organisations do not create international laws. Essentially, religious bodies and the United Nations do totally different things. There would be no need for the UN to destroy religion, even if it had the power to do.
A further reason why the United Nations is not going to ban religion is because religion is key to achieving the organisations aims. The UN was set-up to promote global peace and security by encouraging dialogue and cooperation. Faith groups are actually key to promoting peace in many parts of the world as people highly respect and adhere to religious leaders. The UN actually works closely with many religious organisations on peace building and conflict resolution initiatives.
Really, the idea that the United Nations would want to outlaw religion is ridicules. Not only does the UN in fact actively promote religious freedom but major religions don’t really affect the work of the UN. Only a tiny, tiny group of people really believe the UN actively wants to ban religion…
Why Do Some People Think the United Nations Will Destroy Religion?
Ask almost anyone if they genuinely believe the United Nations would ban religion and almost every single one would say no. However, there is one group who strongly believe the UN will one day try to destroy religion.
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that the UN will attempt to destroy all the religions in the world. In fact, they teach that the United Nations will destroy all other religions first, and then attack Jehovah’s Witnesses, when they are the last religion left on earth.
Many Jehovah’s Witnesses believe this because they say the UN is the ‘image of the wild beast’ referred to in the Book of Revelations. Linking this to scripture in the Bible, they think that the United Nations will destroy all false religion before entering into a final battle with the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
This belief that the United Nations will ban religion is strongly held by Jehovah’s Witnesses. In fact, in 1963 the Ruling Council of Jehovah’s Witnesses – the religions governing body, adopted a resolution setting-out their official view of the United Nations. It says that humanity created the UN to pool their sovereignty into a political organisation made by man, rather than directly worshiping God.
Although this belief is officially held by Jehovah’s Witnesses, in actual fact the UN has never made attempts to destroy or ban religion. As we discussed above, this is beyond extremely unlikely. In fact, in recent years the UN has made critical statements against countries that have persecuted Jehovah’s Witnesses. Further evidence that the UN prioritises freedom of religion around the world.
Apart from Jehovah’s Witnesses, no other world religion has an official position on the United Nations. In fact, not other religion thinks the UN would actually try to destroy people’s faith.