Interfaith Harmony

A prayer took shape within me last week while attending the U.N. Conference on Interfaith Harmony. What if there was a permanent standing body, just like the U.N., made up of representatives of all the religions of the world? Surely, such a council could do a lot to stop the use of religions to promote hatred and war.

The idea is that religious leaders would send a representative to such a United Religions Council and then all representatives would discuss matters related to their interactions and vote and pass resolutions. In my mind, this would lead to these representatives, sooner or later, admitting that their goals and orientations in life matched those of the other representatives. As a body, then, they would be able to publicly denounce any religious fraction that attempted to stir up hatred, intolerance and violence. The United Religions Council would have passed resolutions in advance defining such a group as ANTI-religious despite their claims. Such groups would be publicly castigated and called out on their offenses.

There are three tricky obstacles to creating such a Council. One is identifying the religious leaders and determining rank or power within the Council assigned to each denomination. Two is finding a permanent home for the Council that is agreeable to all religions and three is getting the religious leaders to commit to sending a representative.

The first problem could be solved by including all religions and all denominations of religions and giving them power based on the provable number of constituents that they have. The second problem is also solvable. Tokyo, Japan, seems like it would be amenable to all, as a relatively neutral place among the big religions. The third problem is possibly the toughest to accomplish but there has been no better chance for this than right now.

Right now, we have a Pope that is liberal and sensible concerning social welfare issues. It is possible that he would commit to participation in such a Council. Also, the Islamic denominations are under great pressure right now to connect with other religions because of the bad PR that ISIL is causing them. They would have much to gain from such a council. There is tremendously negative public opinion in the West right now not just for ISIL but also for Iranian Muslims. I imagine that Egypt and Turkey would love the chance to boost PR as well about their countries’ religion.

It boils down to Pope Francis, really. Without an amenable Pope there is not much chance of this Council forming. If the Pope joined, the other Christian denominations would have to follow suit.

The Hindu faith would also create a bit of a challenge as well because of its lack of clear central hierarchy but that would not impede the forming of the Council. That would give time for the Council to zero in on finding the Hindu leaders that the average Hindu would pay attention to; i.e.: who could credibly claim to have the ear of the Hindu people. Including all denominations of the Hindu faith would allow there to be many representatives, each with their own claim of followers.

Back to the UN Interfaith Council: thanks to all the groups that made this happen. Here are some links to the wonderful Interfaith efforts already happening in the U.S. and around the world that I made contact with through this UN event:

Fuji Declaration

Even though the U.N. made this event and its success possible, interfaith issues should not be a long term subsidiary of the U.N. if real progress is to be made. The U.N. is very helpful in getting the idea going and gaining momentum but it is not a proper permanent location for these efforts. The U.N. has much in common with Interfaith Harmony but also does not share in some key issues. Where the U.N. and religions meet is obviously in charitable relief efforts. It is natural to religious persons to want to help the disenfranchised and the impoverished peoples around the world just as the U.N. has rightly focused on such issues. But religious people do so from a different standpoint and such charitable activity does not necessarily cause Interfaith Harmony. Two different religions doing the same disaster relief work in the same area may not cooperate at all without some additional prodding. An Interfaith Council can do such prodding but the U.N. cannot.

The simple fact is that a religion will never really feel bound by the U.N. This is because it is the UNITED NATIONS not the UNITED RELIGIONS. No one is more aware of the separations between Church and State that exists in most countries than the religions themselves. Many states are using this separation from religion to sanction the removal of any support for religions. The U.N. is a STATE body and not a religious one, therefore efforts at Interfaith Harmony must eventually find its own support and meet with the U.N. as an independent body not as a dependent one.

There are other good reasons for an Interfaith global council to distance itself from the U.N., eventually. These reasons stem from the limitations created by the politics that hinder the U.N. An Interfaith Council would want to be as free as possible from such politics.

In conclusion, I hope that you will join me in a prayer for the establishment of a permanent body representing the religions of the world, for greater peace and welfare for all peoples, all over the world.

 

 

 

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About Kilaya

Kilaya is a yogi who is also well-versed in the sciences. He studied physics and mathematics at college, biology and molecular biology on his own, fluid dynamics while working as a professional plumber and has always had a passion for in-depth psychology. Now he adds what he has learned from his spiritual master, Amma, and from his life as a professional astrologer to his writings in order to make discoveries that may inspire others.

Posted on February 9, 2016, in Spirituality & Religion and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. You familiar w the Parliament of World Religions?

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    • Yes, although I have never attended an event. Certainly the Parliament of World Religions is a wonderful event that has done much good but it is not functioning in the way that I am praying for. It is far from a permanent standing body (meeting sporadically every 5, 10, 15 or more years) and doesn’t have a permanent housing, much less, a permanent city.

      My impression, and this is not well-researched, is that the function of the Parliament of World Religions is not focused on establishing binding agreements and resolutions, not only in how representation takes place within itself but also on points of agreement between members. I feel that it does not have much public power to call out certain extremist violent sub-groups who are masquerading under a particular faith and promoting intolerance. The ability to do this type of clear identification and castigation of hatred oriented groups would be the key feature to the United Religions Council that I am praying for.

      Thanks for your interest, I hope you join me in my prayer for peace among religions.

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      • Yes, ongoing prayer.

        You are right of course that the parliament of world religions is not yet what you envision. I think it’s an important step tho and may pave the way. Over a dozen people I know well went to the fall Parliament, and came back really excited. The parliament is now also moving to convene every 1-2 years because the need is great.

        Interfaith work and dialogue is tricky. There are huge wounding a and challenges. My own experience on a tiny scale (Interfaith council at college and other such places, as well as being a child of interfaith family) is that getting people together and actually having fruitful dialogue never mind making policy decisions is a huge task. The interfaith council I was a part of came together in some things easily (supporting Muslim and East Asian-aka potentially Muslim looking- students I. The rise of hatred that flared after the September 11 attacks. In other areas, such as how to do community celebrations and how to resolve differences we talked for endless hours without resolution.

        I also have had way too many conversations w my father (Jewish) asking me (raised Christian) why “Christians” did such and such (this often corresponded to a point where someone he was dating tried to convert him). I had no answers though we both agreed that if religions teach love and peace, why is there so much religious conflict and war in the name of religion?

        What the Parliament appears to be doing is bringing people together in ways that are healing and generative. This may birth a set of leaders who could sit in council together in love and a sense of harmony along w mutual aligned purpose and actually form the council you are calling for.

        It has my prayer. It’s a wonderful idea and truly timely, necessary, and important.

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      • Yes, thanks for that. There is an incredible amount to talk about between religions and even when agreement isn’t reached it is fruitful. For this reason a permanent standing body makes sense. Thanks for your response.

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      • Another thought: while I agree that the Pope is a key player and that Pope Francis is well matched for these goals, I’m not sure it’s as simple as getting the pope on board in order to get Christians as a whole on board. I’ve actually been asked by non-Catholic Christians more than once if Catholics were *christian*. And no end to the confusion about different Protestant denominations as well as the newer bible based sects that aren’t in the strictest sense in the same lineage as the Protestant reformation and subsequent denominations. Interfaith dialogue and education are huge challenges I would add to your list, w meetings like the Parliament of World Religions being one small way of addressing this concern.

        I use to have conversations long past bed time w my maternal grandmother about a council such as this forming. So. We keep praying.

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      • That’s rich. What are great experience to have such conversations at any early age. Thanks for adding more to this discussion. There is so much to inter faith harmony. There is much for the different denomenations to discuss and learn about each other. A similar thing within Hinduism and Buddhism, I believe. But with a council, the discussion would not only be meaningful but also socially productive because official representatives from each denomenation would be involved. Interfaith harmony could get built like a house, one brick at a time, from the bottom up.

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  2. A passage from the agreement reached between Pope Francis and the Orthodox Church patriarch on Feb. 12th 2016:

    “13. Interreligious dialogue is indispensable in our disturbing times. Differences in the understanding of religious truths must not impede people of different faiths to live in peace and harmony. In our current context, religious leaders have the particular responsibility to educate their faithful in a spirit which is respectful of the convictions of those belonging to other religious traditions. Attempts to justify criminal acts with religious slogans are altogether unacceptable. No crime may be committed in God’s name, “since God is not the God of disorder but of peace” (1 Cor 14:33).”

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