‘But my veil is very little!’ The lady exclaimed, passionately arguing her case for the religious freedoms of women in Iran.
The interpretation from the opposing stand point differs from her view that religious clothing isn’t a burden. The ladies remark would have no doubt translated to ‘but my chains are very light!’ in the mind of Christopher Hitchens, the very man at the other end, when confronting the delusion of suggested religious ‘freedoms’ during the Q&A session in Australia.
Billions of children are currently being brought up in a deeply religious faith. With this a set belief and dress code. Most of these families will justify this by claiming it is a choice, but if everyone coincidentally sports the same clothing, is it really a choice?
Taking into account how restricting certain clothes can be, is a niqab really the desired choice for a Middle Eastern summer? Is a robe really the best choice a priest can make to play a game of football? If these are choices, they are choices heavily influenced by religion.
Religion gives a guide to live by, not a choice. Lets compare with the sudden urge to buy a product after walking past a billboard. It is a choice but a choice influenced by external factors. I am not going to tell readers to refrain from wearing what they want, but I urge anyone reading this to know that it’s not what you want, it is what religion wants of you. It would be a mistake to say it was a decision made entirely on personal preference.
Image– Seminarians from the International Seminary of Saint Pius X play football in their cassocks in Riddes, western Switzerland. (Picture by Fabrice Coffrini/AFP)
This causes divide. It might not be an aggressive divide but divide nevertheless. Some see the beauty in our differences, in some instances I do too. But I also see a lack of togetherness, with clothing being a window into the culture that an individual will adhere to until the last living moment.
This isn’t nice for our kids, nor is it fair. If we really want the best for our children, it isn’t putting them into clothes they will feel too pressured to take off.
A lot of religious garments are just downright impractical. When I see people struggling to eat or even talk… Isn’t it just too much effort? Religion makes life that much more difficult and it doesn’t have to be. If you feel the need to make life a little harder to get through, it’s because you feel pressured by family or a God.
Seeing clusters of religious communities huddled together I don’t see wonderful diversity, I see a fear of change. Few people will branch out and escape the trapped life religion has in store for them. The rest will wear the same clothes to represent the same god.
It is fashionable to cry bigotry upon questioning the wardrobe of a believer. But where is a large proportion of the bigotry and discrimination? In that very religion. The feeling of guilt, the fear of repercussion, the threat of being outcast. In the Phillipines, an event takes place in which Christian volunteers are nailed to a cross. Should I feel bad for condemning the event? Afterall they are using their freedom in the way they want…
We obsess with feeling guilt. If we don’t feel guilty, this overwhelms us with guilt. If you live in a country that allows flexibility with what you wear, please, make the most of it. Time is too limited to use freedom expressing oppression, no matter how convinced you are that your lifestyle is an entirely personal choice.