Religions Are Uniting After a Spike in Hate Incidents

Interfaith gatherings focus on how individuals must deal with anger and love one another despite differences.

Interfaith initiatives driven by different religions occur with the purpose of enacting peace and justice. In order to forge “peace and cooperation among religious communities,” different religions come together. Some possible goals would be to address tensions that are rooted in religious differences, or to face a crisis hand-in-hand that has impacted the entire religious community. The foundation of interfaith movements are shared values that help religious groups face the daily challenges of coexisting with fairness, benefitting from a shared experience while warding off conflicts and frictions.

To show the complex network of organizations involved in interfaith work, the GHR Foundation supported the publication of a World Faiths Development Dialogue report. One can see here that initiatives are involved with issues that have to do with theology and practice. One example of great interfaith work is that of Habitat for Humanity and Muslim leaders in the Marrakech Declaration. Religions for Peace another global entity that is close to the United Nations, tackles issues that include peace in the mid-east, climate change and HIV/AIDS.

Recently, Missouri’s University City community came together after the Jewish cemetery Chesed Shel Emeth was desecrated. On Sunday, February 26, Mayor Shelley Welsch and the Interfaith Ministerial Alliance stood together to speak against this kind of destruction. Rabbi Scott Shafron said infront of a supporting crowd: "What we're doing today is an extension of what we've seen all week, this incredible outpouring of love and support." Others who were present include Reverend Diane Kenaston from University United Methodist Church, Imam Ali Bagegni of the Council of Imams of Greater St. Louis, and Joan Suarez, who spoke for immigrants.

Another recent example of interfaith work involves the Church of Scientology. In order to address the issue of terrorism and intolerance between religions, the Church of Scientology held an interreligious meeting in Toronto. The meeting was held as part of the Church’s response to the UN’s annual World Interfaith Harmony Week. The week is observed with a premise that mutual understanding between different faiths is crucial if world peace has to be achieved.

The key talk was delivered by Reverend Earl Smith. His sermon chiefly dealt on how difficult it is for people to love each other. Based on an essay by the Church’s founder, L. Ron Hubbard titled “What is Greatness?” The essay urges to love one another no matter how great the temptations and provocations are to hate each other.

“It requires real strength to love Man. And to love him despite all invitations to do otherwise, all provocations and all reasons why one should not. Happiness and strength endure only in the absence of hate. To hate alone is the road to disaster. To love is the road to strength. To love in spite of all is the secret of greatness. And may very well be the greatest secret in this universe.”

Something similar was voiced by Canadian Council of Imams, Imam Habeeb Alli, who believes that anger and hatred create barriers within us. He said that the solution is to discover these barriers and try to overcome them. Alli told the crowd that the real issues are within us and that we need to actively try to do away with them. He called on the gathering to make sure that the next generation is being developed as a loving, forgiving and positive generation. He said that if the future generation has to be more united, the onus lies on us.

This service by the Church of Scientology was one of the many interreligious services held across the Toronto’s houses of prayers belonging to various communities.

The Church of Scientology was also a co-sponsor for a multi-faith music concert that was held at Noor Cultural Center.

Religious beliefs and religious organizations play a big role in ensuring peace and justice around the world. Interfaith dialogues are good first steps towards religious literacy and cooperation, as they are filled with positive ideas and proactive measures.

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