Religion as a Global Phenomenon for the New
Millennium: "Fundamentalism is a
worldwide threat, suggested Peccoud. So how do we counter it?
The key is to change the view that salvation depends on playing
by certain religious rules: everyone is saved. This is not to
slip into syncretism, where we buy what we want from the
supermarket of world belief, but to recognize that each religion
has its own faith while remaining open to other faiths.
"'Islam defends the concept of plurality and
diverse humanity," said Dalil Boubakeur, Rector of the Institut
Musulman de la Mosquée de Paris... 'It is an eminently
spiritualist and tolerant religion, despite what the
media would have us believe.... We need to rediscover
spirituality and inter-religious dialogue to counter these
developments and to promote peace, tolerance and a sense of
conscience in the next century.'
"'Religion should become experimental - it should
become experiential," said K.L. Seshagiri Rao, Chief Editor
of the Encyclopedia of Hinduism, and Professor Emeritus,
University of South Carolina, USA.... He called for an end to
divisive dogma and a reawakening of inclusive spirituality."
"Christianity faces major changes... explained Keith
Ward, Regius Professor of Divinity at Christ Church,
University of Oxford. From its early days as a Jewish messianic
sect, Christianity changed into an imperialistic theology based
in Constantinople, then a Roman Catholic vision of 'Christendom'
to be imposed worldwide. The Reformation introduced
(unintentionally) democracy, literacy and criticism, leading to
a key question on the eve of the third millennium: 'Is Jesus
Christ the only saviour?' Ward does not believe so, but
argued that "salvation is given by God to all humanity on
condition that they turn from egoism to God."
"'The world is fed up with dogmatic religion but is
starving for spirituality,' said Denys Teundroup, Honorary
President of the European Buddhist Union, France. He
contrasted the 'tradition of the Buddha' with the
fundamentalism often generated by monotheism.... He
mentioned a new Internet initiative to promote a culture of
world peace, based on altruism and universal responsibility.
"In response to a question from the floor asking
whether one global ethic underlies all religions, Ward
pointed out that Teundroup's "golden rule" is very similar to
Jesus's call to worship God and to love your neighbour as
yourself - if, as Ward suggests, you understand "God"
to signify 'what is ultimately true and beautiful and
compassionate.' Rupert Sheldrake, Research Fellow at the
Institute of Noetic Sciences, USA, sees modern secular
materialism as the main threat to spirituality and suggested
that resisting this common enemy could be the cause
around which all world religions unite. Peccoud concluded
that different religions are like the many faces of a single
diamond, refracting into many colours the one unique and
invisible light of God." 01.02.1999
Religion and Conflict: Cause or Cure?
25.01.2003, Annual Meeting 2003, WEF
"Religion has become acceptable because it has been put in a box by secular liberalism. Where it has not been, it scares me stiff," said J. Adair Turner, Senior Adviser and Vice-Chairman, Merrill Lynch, United Kingdom, in a table discussion led by session Moderator Yezid Sayigh, Academic Director, Cambridge Programme for Security in International Society, Centre of International Studies, Cambridge University, United Kingdom. "Until secularism won, all religions were dangerous," said Turner. All fundamentalisms were especially dangerous, including the radical evangelism of the United States. Participants at the table agreed that it is virtually impossible for a politician openly proclaiming to be non-religious or agnostic, let alone atheist, to win major public office in the US. Sir Lawrence Freedman, Head, School of Social Science and Public Policy, King’s College, University of London, United Kingdom, felt most religious people are not naturally compromisers. Turner said Marxism and Fascism had also been forms of religion with single truths. Sayigh suggested nationalism also sometimes takes on a religious garb."
The Dynamics of Tolerance - The Price We Pay for a Civilized Society?
Tolerance forms the basis of a civil society and is the foundation for success in the UAE, explained Lubna Al Qasimi, Chief Executive Officer, Tejari.com, United Arab Emirates. She painted a picture of a modern society infused by tolerance...
What are the roots of intolerance and discontent? Panellists agreed that grinding poverty, disease, hunger, lack of healthcare and education are the prime culprits. Cardinal Rodriguez said that religion is a force to be harnessed to build better societies...Grayling pointed to the need to respect universal values, such as those laid out in the UN Declaration of Human Rights and embodied by the International Criminal Court. However, because tolerance is a learned behaviour rather than a fundamental human value, moral and social education is paramount. Ghabra said that it is essential for the Islamic silent majority to speak out and communicate and called upon political and religious leaders to take the initiative because "there is a lot of work to be done in the region."
Annual Meeting 2003
Bridging Religious Divides: The Search for Common Values
On a day that saw religious leaders from across the globe visit the site of the World Trade Center and bow their heads in common prayer, those leaders also discussed the potential for conciliation and friendship among the world’s religions. "All of us on this platform," His Grace George L. Carey, Archbishop of Canterbury, United Kingdom, said, "are agreed that this is God’s world." He and the rest of the panel underlined the "importance of identifying and embracing common values."
....Religion must be "proposed not imposed," said Francis Cardinal Arinze, President, Pontificium Consilium pro Dialogo inter Religiones, Italy. "Religious plurality is a fact," Arinze acknowledged, and "whoever refuses to accept this is saying ‘Don’t confuse me with facts!’" Therefore religious freedom "is a commodity we want to be very evident in the human market."
World Religions: Where Are the Peacemakers?
Fifteen distinguished spiritual and religious leaders have been gathered in Davos for two days of dialogue on the process of globalization and the role religion can play in meeting the challenges in today’s world, Bawa Jain, Secretary-General, The Millennium World Peace Summit, USA, informed participants. By the end of those two days, he said, a document was produced and signed that speaks to nine points of agreement among the speakers.
Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh, Vietnamese Buddhist Leader, France, expressed the Buddhist belief that the kingdom of God can be experienced here and now, but many are too busy to live deeply enough to touch the presence of this kingdom. He told the parable of a man travelling on a horse who was asked, Where are you going? He answered, Ask the horse. Technology is the horse, he said, but we don’t know where we are going. “It is very important,” he told participants, “for business and religious leaders to touch the spiritual dimension” and to be mindful of what we do, how we do it and for what purpose.
....Martin, Archbishop Diarmiud, Secretary of the Pontificial Council for Justice and Peace at the Vatican, noted three important principles from the scriptures: God created every person with inherent rights and potential; God created us as family and placed the goods of creation at our disposal; God created us as a harmonious family. Our primary resource is people, not markets, he said, and urged investment in girls, “which have been so long neglected.” Exclusion is a moral evil, inclusion an economic good, he said – why haven’t we therefore mastered an equitable distribution of goods, including knowledge – especially given the means to provide access today? he asked. He concluded by calling for mutual understanding of other religion’s values.
....Chief Rabbi Israel Meir Lau of Israel wondered if religious leaders are suitable for the role of peacemakers. Peace, he declared, cannot be made by signing papers. “It’s a start and maybe a finish, but not enough.” It takes education starting from early kindergarten, he urged, where friendship and love are emphasized.
Klaus Schwab, Founder and President, World Economic Forum (who is also a signatory to the document) concluded the session by reading its nine points to participants:
1) We, the religious and spiritual leaders gathered here in Davos, express gratitude to the World Economic Forum for their invitation to participate in this extraordinary gathering. We enthusiastically endorse the prospect of initiating and continuing dialogue in order to create a framework that integrates leaders of religion, business, politics and civil society. Let us join forces to seize this opportunity.
2) We recognize that globalization offers both opportunities and perils. ....
...3) Globalization poses various challenges to all these communities compelling them to find a shared vision and work toward common responses....
5) As guardians of moral and spiritual values, we commit ourselves to work toward the inner transformation of individuals so that a more caring society is possible....
6) We firmly believe that religious traditions have a unique contribution to offer in meeting these challenges particularly in emphasizing human values and the spiritual and moral dimension of economic and political life. We are eager to foster a dialogue...
....7) Recognizing that there are divisions among different segments of society, we affirm efforts to strengthen mutual interdependence. In committing ourselves to participate in a series of World Economic Forum dialogues, we strongly recommend that religious representation be substantially broadened. ....
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