17th July is the day of Bloggers Unite for Human Rights 2009.
Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)...
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.
Taoism is about discovery and growth. It is about achieving a new understanding of the nature of reality, our place within it, and what this teaches us about living better lives. Whether pursued as a Taoist or within the context of a religion such as Buddhism, Christianity or Islam, it is about exploring and finding answers for yourself.
Many states and expressions of religion seek to restrict the options for people, through subtle pressure or through enforcement by religious or political bodies. Informally, many communities act to persecute and discriminate against those that are seen as being different on the basis of belief. In some parts of the world those that seek to explore belief or change religion can face persecution, rape, torture or death.
From a Taoist perspective I'd have to question whether your beliefs are of much worth if you can only retain followers through the threat of discrimination or violence. As a Taoist, while I recognise that such activities hold the seeds for the eventual destruction of the beliefs they try to uphold, I also see that until that comes to pass many people will suffer.
In Taoism there is a long tradition of helping others, particularly the poor and oppressed. Organisations such as Amnesty International have demonstrated that coordinated campaigns can make a difference when confronting abuses of human rights. Participation in campaigns to raise public awareness can serve to shine an unwelcome spotlight on the activities of the abusers and help the sufferers.
The "three jewels" of Taoism are Compassion, Moderation and Humility. IMHO there is no room within these "jewels" to accommodate suppression of freedom of belief. As a Taoist I fully support the aims of the UDHR and in particular Article 18.
Without basic human rights people's opportunity to explore the spiritual side of their nature is severely restricted. I'd urge you to read and support the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
There are several organisations that seek to help those suffering torture or execution for their beliefs. For more information see http://www.bloggersunite.org/event/bloggers-unite-for-human-rights-2009.
If you are a blogger and are interested in supporting this event, the main Human Rights day on December 10, or other events relating to human rights, try visiting http://www.bloggersunite.org for more information.