You are born and raised in a country where there isn't all that much separation between religion and government. Your family is of the dominant religion, and you are raised in that tradition. In young adulthood, you are exposed to a different religion, and you believe that this minority religion is true. You convert. You don't hide your conversion, but you also don't take steps to change the religion listed on your government-issued identity card. You know that it is practically impossible for people whose official religion is the dominant one to change that official religion, even though the law says that it is allowed.
Fast forward in time. You're now 56 years old. The mismatch between your personal religion and your official religion has caused problems for your family. Your nephew is denied a government job because of your "double life." Your 14-year-old daughter is required to attend religious classes at school. Because you are officially of the dominant religion, she is required to attend those classes. She is prohibited from attending classes in the minority religion, even though that is the religion in which she was raised. In two years, she will be issued an identity card. The religion listed on her card will match the religion listed on yours, despite the fact that neither of you are part of that religion. She never was. Nevertheless, one day she will want to marry, and she will not be allowed to marry outside of her official religion. So if her official religion is the predominant one, she will not be allowed to marry someone of her own faith, unless her prospective husband also has a mismatch between his personal religion and his official religion.
So you decide to take steps now to change the religion listed on your identity card, in order to solve the problem for your daughter and to eliminate your "double life" that has been used to deny your nephew a job. You take the appropriate legal steps to make the change. According to the law, you should have to sign a paper, be issued the new card, and be done with it.
If it were that simple, you would have done it 30 years ago. In reality, only one person in your country who was born and raised in the dominant religion has been allowed to convert away from it, although people can convert to the dominant religion with no problem at all. (If they ever decide to revert to their original religion, though, they have problems.)
Your request to change your official religion is denied. Even though the law allows anyone to change from any religion to any religion, the constitution also says that the dominant religion is the law of the land. According to the laws of that religion, there is no conversion out of it. It simply isn't allowed. The judge concurs with religious law, despite the official, secular, law.
You appeal. Your lawyer cites a precedent--the aforementioned only case in your country's history in which someone born and raised in the dominant religion was allowed to change his official religion. Your lawyer intends to submit the official court records of that previous case in support of your own case. The judge refuses to acknowledge the existence of any legal documentation that it ever happened. Your lawyer argues. The judge has security escort your lawyer out of the courtroom.
Your case is suspended for an unknown length of time. It should eventually resume under a different judge. Your lawyer intends to file a complaint against the original judge. You have no idea how long this will take or if you will be allowed to change your official religion at all, much less in time to save your daughter from going through all of this herself one day.
What would you do? How would you feel?
This situation is happening right now. Read the full story here. For a related story, see this.
3 days ago