World peace & religious peace – wereldvrede & godsdienstvrede

No world peace without religious peace …….

The title of a column by Paul Delfgaauw on 15 December in Trouw (one of the main a Dutch newspapers). Its title caught my immediate attention and I’m citing (& translating) some of it below.

Jan Gruiters, Director of IKV Pax Christi (Dutch Peace Movement – website also in English), wrote in its newsletter ‘Vrede Nu’ (Peace Now):

Jonathan Fox deed onderzoek naar de relatie tussen religie en gewelddadig conflict. Zijn conclusie is verrassend. Religie speelt maar een zwakke rol in burgeroorlogen. Religie is noch een belangrijke oorzaak noch een bepalende factor in politiek geweld. Bepalende factoren in burgeroorlogen zijn veleer het type regime, de invloed van repressie en separatisme.

Jonathan Fox researched the relation between religion and violent conflict. His conclusion: religion only plays a minor role in civil wars. Religion is neither an important cause nor a determining factor in political violence. Determining factors in civil wars are the type of regime, the influence of repression, and separatism.

Volgens IKV Pax Christi speelden in vele conflicten van de afgelopen decennia religie en religieuze leiders een belangrijke rol. ‘Soms spelen religieuze factoren bij de start van conflicten een rol, maar vaker worden ze door politieke en religieuze leiders als het ware ingezet ter legitimatie van bepaalde standpunten of ter legitimatie van geweld. Een beter begrip van de rol van religie bij het ontstaan van conflicten, bij de ontwikkeling van conflicten en bij het oplossen van conflicten is vangroot belang voor een adequate vredesstrategie.’

Religion and religious leaders played important roles in many conflicts of the recent past, according to IKV Pax Christi. ‘Sometimes religious factors play a role at the start of a conflict, but often they are used by political and religieus leaders to legitimate certain points of view or violence. Better understanding of the role of religion in the initial stage of conflicts, during conflict development and at the final stage of conflicts is of great importance for an adequate peace strategy.’

De Zwitserse theoloog Hans Küng zegt: ‘Geen vrede onder de volkeren zonder vrede tussen de godsdiensten. Geen vrede tussen de godsdiensten zonder dialoog tussen de godsdiensten. Geen dialoog tussen de godsdiensten zonder onderzoek naar de fundamenten van de godsdiensten.’

The Swiss theologian Hans Küng says: ‘No peace amongst peoples without peace amongst religions. No peace amongst religions without dialogue amongst religions. No dialogue amongst religions without research into the fundamental aspects of religions.’

Religieuze leiders moeten beseffen dat zij grote verantwoordelijkheid dragen en zich bij ieder conflict uitspreken over het eventuele religieuze aandeel daarin. Zij zijn verplicht hun stem te laten horen en alle religieuze geweld te veroordelen. Religies beroepen zich altijd op de liefde, laten ze die dan verspreiden. En zeker moeten religies onderling ophouden elkaar te bestoken met ‘de waarheid’. Anderzijds brengen religies immers, volgens project Thomas, ‘steeds ook een sterke ethische en spirituele boodschap die de liefde voor de naaste opentrekt tot liefde voor de vreemdeling, ja zelfs voor de vijand, en die vraagt om vrede door vergeving en verzoening, tot zevenmaal zeventig maal toe.’

Religious leaders must realise their great responsibility and must speak at every conflict about possible religious involvement. They are obliged to voice their opinion and condemn all religious violence. Religions always talk about love, well, let them spread this. Religions should stop to fight amongst each other while claiming to have ‘the truth’. Religions also present a strong ethical and spiritual message about loving your neighbour as well as the stranger, and even your enemy, and this requires peace from forgiveness and reconciliation to the count of seven times seventy.’

This column just reminded me of the letter written in 2002 by the Universal House of Justice to the world’s religious leaders, especially paragraphs 15 and 16:

The implications for today are summed up by Bahá’u’lláh in words written over a century ago and widely disseminated in the intervening decades:

There can be no doubt whatever that the peoples of the world, of whatever race or religion, derive their inspiration from one heavenly Source, and are the subjects of one God. The difference between the ordinances under which they abide should be attributed to the varying requirements and exigencies of the age in which they were revealed. All of them, except a few which are the outcome of human perversity, were ordained of God, and are a reflection of His Will and Purpose. Arise and, armed with the power of faith, shatter to pieces the gods of your vain imaginings, the sowers of dissension amongst you. Cleave unto that which draweth you together and uniteth you.

Such an appeal does not call for abandonment of faith in the fundamental verities of any of the world’s great belief systems. Far otherwise. Faith has its own imperative and is its own justification. What others believe — or do not believe — cannot be the authority in any individual conscience worthy of the name. What the above words do unequivocally urge is renunciation of all those claims to exclusivity or finality that, in winding their roots around the life of the spirit, have been the greatest single factor in suffocating impulses to unity and in promoting hatred and violence.

Phew, deep stuff…… What do you think?


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