Religious Leaders’ Peace Network from 130 Countries Examine the Nature of Religion through Comparative Studies on ScripturesThursday, 02 May 2019 17:53
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.
2018 HWPL World Peace Summit Gathered Global Leaders to Build Strategy for Global Peace and Stability in the Korean Peninsula
On September 18th, an UN-affiliated NGO, Heavenly Culture, World Peace, Restoration of Light (HWPL), organized high-level meetings at the 2018 HWPL World Peace Summit ahead of its outdoor peace festival.
Former and current heads of state, government officials, chief justices, speakers of the national assembly, religious leaders, and first ladies gathered by each sector to discuss the concrete peace-building methods by reaffirming the responsibilities as leaders of the society.
HWPL Peace Advisory Council Conference for the Realization of Peace
At this meeting, the members of the HWPL Peace Advisory Council discussed the strategies for the implementation of international law for peace and the peaceful reunification of the Korean Peninsula based on the links between government and civil society.
HWPL Peace Advisory Council comprises 183 dignitaries of former and current heads of state, cabinet ministers, experts in international law, and religious leaders from 75 countries including Hon. Emil Constantinescu, Former President of Romania; Rt. Hon. Hrant Bagratyan, Former Prime Minister of Armenia; Hon. Dr. Adel Omar Sherif, Deputy Chief Justice of Supreme Constitutional Court of Egypt; H.E. Amb. Martin Ihoeghian Uhomoibhi, Former President of The UN Human Rights Council; the Most Rev. Patricio Enrique Viveros Robles, Archbishop of the Anglican Episcopal Church of Chile.
The agendas suggested during the meeting were as followed: To assume the DPCW to UN Resolution with the support of National Solidarity Statement; to promote a culture of peace within the religious harmony; to collect the support for peacebuilding on the Korean Peninsula; to expand the chance of interaction among various sectors.
Hon. Given Lubinda, Minister of Justice in Zambia, highlighted the significant role of the HWPL Peace Advisory in building peace, saying “The Advisory Council must provide a platform through which youths and women can bring their numbers together to demand of their leaders transparent and representative leadership devoid of the vices of corruption and self-aggrandizement. The numerical advantage of the youths and the power of persuasion of the women must be harnessed to demand that all governments in the world and eventually the united nations adopt the declaration of peace and the cessation of war.”
“My view is that the next step is for HWPL and its affiliate organizations to forge collaborate linkages with schools, faith-based organizations and other youth and women groups and associations. We should make it our agenda to inculcate the sense of peaceful coexistence among all members of the human race. This should be at national level, at regional level and at global level,” he added.
High-Level Religious Leaders’ Conference for Alliance of Religions
“There is no reason to fight if all religions are in harmony. To achieve religious harmony, believers must compare and verify the texts in their religious scriptures, searching for the truth. Then, we all need to become one under the truth. Believers have the responsibilities of leading people to a true path.” said Chairman Man Hee Lee of HWPL.
Religious leaders who were invited to this event have been participating at the interfaith dialogue meetings, named WARP Office, in agreement with searching for a trustworthy scripture to overcome the differences in religious ideologies as well as to achieve world peace through the religious alliance.
This meeting presented the outcomes of the comparative study of scriptures and motivated the religious leaders to participate in this peace initiative. The attendees talked about the significance of the role to bring religious harmony and suggested to publish a booklet that contains the results and the progress of the comparative study of scriptures.
H.E. Elias Chacour, Archbishop Emeritus of Melkite Catholic Church, stated the importance of searching for a trustworthy scripture, “I think everyone has to feel the need for others to share their scripture so that it can be enlightened with what the other say. That means we need to feel the need for each other. Unless religious leaders cooperate to spread WARP Office and help increase the culture of religious peace & searching for a trustworthy scripture, there is no way to cooperate together. So, all religious leaders who love peace should participate in WARP Office and build cooperation with leaders of different faiths.”
At the occasion, HWPL Alliance of Religions’ Peace Committee consisted of high-level religious leaders was also inaugurated. Further discussion was made to advance its activities and spread the culture of seeking a trustworthy scripture to the public.
2018 World’s Former and Current First Ladies' Peace Forum
To discuss the role of women leaders for the realization of peace, former and current first ladies including Dr. Irina Shushkevich, Former First Lady of Belarus, Ms. Shanta Regmi, Former First Lady of Nepal, and Ms. Koling Lanto Italeli, Current First Lady of Tuvalu took part in the discussion on their further activities to contribute for peacebuilding.
The participants presented their ideas on joint efforts to advance the peace initiatives in association with International Women’s Peace Group (IWPG) and to strengthen the women leaders’ network with the women leaders of neighboring countries.
During the session, Chairwoman Hyun Sook Yoon of IWPG delivered the message of the meaning of woman empowerment for peacebuilding and the outlook on the future peace initiatives. “For centuries, there have been countless first ladies in the history. Some remained as great figures in our memory, but some remained nothing after the name. First ladies, gathered here today, gathered for peace in the country of their own as well as in all nations around the world. Your names will be remembered to the people forever as messengers of peace when the peaceful world is completed.”
Warsaw, Poland/ Kaunas, Lithuania – Young leaders’ interfaith peace camps took place following one after another in Poland and Lithuania from June 23rd to July 2nd under the subject of the role of religion and youth for resolving conflicts in the world.
With total 104 participants from Catholic, Protestant, Islam, Sikhism, and ISKCON attending, HWPL Religious Youth Peace Camps were held by religious leaders in each city in collaboration with Heavenly Culture, World Peace, Restoration of Light (HWPL), an international NGO working to realize peace and cessation of war.
Ms. Deborah Oh, one of the coordinators of the event said, “I believe achieving peace is everyone’s agenda and, therefore, everyone is desired to work for the cause of world peace in any possible way. A research group in the US once announced more than eight people out of ten in the world are religious. What if the 80% of world population who has faith takes the lead of working for peace?”
The youth of various faiths took part in lectures with lively Q&A sessions and discussions with religious leaders of the region as well as outdoor activities such as a three-legged race and campaigns on the roads. They also participated as an audience in an interfaith dialog for peace conducted based on the scriptures of each faith.
During the discussion, participants discussed on how religion can work for the cessation of war along with the society.
Jonas Klimavičius, a Catholic student from Kaunas Maironis Univesity Gimnasium said, “Religion [can be] then true religion when it teaches us how to love God. If we want to love God, we have to love all his creatures. So if we love one each other, we are creating peace. [To do so], talking with different religious people is very important.”
Also, the World Alliance of Religions’ Peace (WARP) Office meeting was held on the second day of the camp in Kaunas at Kaunas Mosque.
The head of Islamic Community of Lithuania, Mufti Romas Jakubauskas remarked, “In every meeting, we are finding more common things than problems. Religious leaders are leaders of their community [and] they have to put more efforts to achieve this goal [peace]. They have to teach their communities, of course, they, themselves have to meet with other religious leaders to find solutions for the biggest problem which is conflicts and wars in the world.”
• Warsaw, Poland, June 23rd to June 24thPolish youth joined a series of outdoor activity where they could experience the importance of alliance of religions. An intensive version of the three-legged race was played. Pairs of competitors ran with their near legs tied together. In the camp, 6 people in 5 legs became a group and did the race step by step without making anyone fall behind or stumble.
Mr. Amandeep Sigh, a Sikh student from Gurudwara Singh Sabha of Poland recalled the moment by saying, “People from different religions are bound together as one. We are one. At first, it hurt my ankle when we had no rules. But after we set up some rules by communicating with each other and started walking again, we could walk safely and fast together.”HWPL Religious Youth Peace Camp has also been held in Cambodia, Myanmar, and Nigeria and is aiming to inspire youth and their religious communities to find solutions together for conflicts caused or excused by religions and to learn their roles to resolve them.