BEIJING, June 7 (Xinhua) -- After taking pictures with his family at the gate of Dacheng Middle School in Beijing, Wang Junkun had his temperature taken, showed his exam admission ticket, and walked into the school at 8:10 a.m. to take the annual college entrance exam in China.
Senior high candidates like Wang have spent most of the past three years studying at school while adapting to the impact of COVID-19, such as switching to online classes amid virus resurgences.
According to the Ministry of Education, a record 11.93 million people have applied for this year's exam, known as the "gaokao," an increase of 1.15 million from 2021. Except for a postponement in Shanghai due to COVID-19, the exam kicked off Tuesday nationwide.
Produced by Xinhua Global Service
Religious Leaders’ Peace Network from 130 Countries Examine the Nature of Religion through Comparative Studies on Scriptures
The Era of Religion Never Fades Away
Scientific innovation and technological progress led many countries to hold unproven prospect that social changes from economic development and industrial advancement will bring out the end of religion.
Far from this “faith”, the issue of religion rises to the surface again, creating new phenomena. While traditional roles of Christianity has diminished in the United States and Europe, the void is filled by increasing presence of new religion through the migration of people with different religious orientations. Also, the governance and social integration have been carried out with the influence of religion in Asian and African countries. Since the 9/11, the rise of extremism and terrorism or such acts of violence in the name of religion persisted. These events have brought the issue of religion to surface both positively and negatively. In order to cope with the latest trend of religion, the international society and religion have created platforms and dialogue in search of new roles religion plays in realization of peace, justice and stability.
Interfaith dialogue begins the restoration of fundamentals of religion
In these contemporary days, religion is considered as a main factor affecting the conflicts in the world. Scholars say that violent acts of extremism have the basis on the misinterpretation of religious scripture as means to mobilize the public and incite angers in the mass number of people.
Imam Anas Hajjar, Head Imam of Finland Islam Community, pays a closer attention to religious scripture and points out that “Because many people interpret the scripture with their own thoughts and ideologies without correctly knowing what is the will of God inside the scripture, and if laymen continue to interpret without true knowledge and study, the problems caused by extremists will continue to occur.”.
There’s a rising voice calling for religious leaders to take a strong stand in restoring the true value of religion to lead humanity into a just and peaceful path, rather than leaning toward any forms of extremisms through misinterpretation.
“Terrorism, sectarian violence and religious conflicts have deprived us of basic human rights, resulting in people under pains that go beyond description. The love and tolerance of love have disappeared in the communities. Selfishness, lack of acceptance of the other and the absence of a culture of tolerance and human values have made the communication even more difficult. However, religion does call for peace among peoples. The seed of peace is possible with this desire and with this longing to change the world,” said Mr. Tharwat Gaid Salama Gaballa, Chairman of Horus foundation for Development and training in Egypt.
The role of leaders in reflecting on religion through scripture to discourage religion as means of violent conflicts
“The common objectives that all religious scriptures pursue are the realization of peace and justice, conflict resolution, human dignity, and valuing diversity. Thus, along with the diverse backgrounds and various factors that cause conflicts, we approach towards the root cause of this hospitality among beliefs, which we define as the misunderstandings that arise from the misinterpretation of these scriptures,” Mr. Gaballa added.
Regarding the role of religious leaders, Imam Anas Hajjar, Head Imam of Finland Islam Community emphasized, “Although political extremism and the hate-speech have been in the rise in Europe, NGOs have a critical role in resisting and opposing this type of breakdown in respect of the laws of religious freedom, peace and harmony in the country. The best way to combat all types of extremism is knowledge and this part of the job is given to scholars and religious leaders.”
“In order to find the truth all the humanity wants religious leaders need to put away the thoughts that only my religion is the best and do the comparative work based on Scriptures without dividing themselves and saying ‘your religion’, ‘my religion’,” said Swami Veetamohananda, Swami (religious leader in Hinduism) of Ramakrishna Veda center.
A Platform for Comparative Studies on Religious Scripture – World Alliance of Religions’ Peace (WARP) Office
From April 1st to 2nd, an international conference named “The Role of Cultural Diplomacy in Approaching the Protracted Conflicts” was held in Romania as the presidency of the European Union by a Romanian think tank Institute of Advanced Studies on Levant Culture and Civilization (ISACCL) in cooperation with Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Romania, Heavenly Culture, World Peace, Restoration of Light (HWPL), University of Bucharest, and Inter-Parliamentary Coalition for Global Ethics.
In the conference the role of NGOs and civil societies in developing peace was included to discuss transforming religion from means of violent conflicts to source of peace.
“The culture of earth cannot disguise the one of heaven with a man’s yardstick of judgment. Religion is to learn the world of spirit and teachings of God. This is the heavenly culture that guides us to the world of peace. Through the WARP offices religious leaders have brought religious scriptures to examine trustworthy, physical evidence of religion. In search of the true teachings written in trustworthy scripture, religions should be one under the true teachings. When we continue to do this comparative studies, there will be no more wars triggered by religion,” said Mr. Man Hee Lee, Chairman of HWPL.
A platform for religious leaders as a new attempt to establish a network of peace to enhance understanding of religions through scriptures has been carried out 220 locations from 130 countries. Named “World Alliance of Religions’ Peace (WARP) Office”, this platform since 2014 is designed by HWPL, an international NGO under the UN ECOSOC, to find the nature of religious values for peace building through scriptures. HWPL has its headquarters in Seoul, South Korea and seeks the role of religion in conflict resolution and prevention through the network of global religious leaders.
Oliver Kang, pastor and international missionary of the Evangelical Worldwide Mission Church, said, “Therefore, if we want peace between religions, if we want no more wars, then religions need to turn away from the path of corruption. That is why we are comparing the religious scriptures through the WARP Office meetings. Discussions based on comparing the scriptures is the optimal solution to resolve the problem of corruption.”
“The WARP office is the significant link and the great network for the worldwide religious institutions. It has come to show the cooperation and solidarity of all religious leaders and send the message of tolerance, peace and unity to all people around the world,” said Mr. Gaballa regarding the function of the WARP office.
According to HWPL, this religious network of peace further is further developed to appeal to young generations to build confidence of religion through communication and understanding. “Various religious teaching program for youth such as religious youth peace camp gives lesson for participants to learn about the general history of world religions, find the root cause of and plausible resolutions to religious conflicts and disputes, examine the religious community’s roles for peace, and experience cultural exchanges,” said Dr. Ahmed Jasem Hmood Al-Maliky, Sheikh of Office of the Religious Reference Sheikh Mohammad Al Yaqoobi in Iraq.
“Starting by taking out the prejudice that I am right and you are wrong, let us communicate and interact with each other with these questions in mind: ‘Is what I know always right? Is the other religion always wrong? Or is there something in that religion that mine doesn't have?’ Let us find the best truth and achieve the ultimate value of peace,” he added.