Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of May 1, 2006
Remember our shared heritage
Understanding and respect defuses religious violence
A Shepherd Speaks
By BISHOP FRED HENRY
"Lack of respect is offensive to all communities, be they Christian, Jewish, Muslim or any identifiable group."
- Calgary religious communities' joint statement
Conversion from Islam is a capital offence in the North.
In addition to addressing forthrightly infringements on religious liberty, we need to be cognizant of a number of other social, economic, political and military factors that contribute to situations in which religious intolerance towards religious minorities is likely to grow.
Many Muslims perceive the powerful forces of secularization and materialism that often accompany globalization as threatening traditional Islamic values.
Many in the Islamic world interpret aspects and tactics of the struggle against terrorism as struggle against Islam itself. This misinterpretation precipitates a reactionary impulse to equate anything Western with Christianity. Indigenous Christians, who in most cases have local roots that predate the arrival of Islam, are erroneously identified and targeted as allies of adversaries of Islam.
The abuse and humiliation of prisoners and detainees by American and British forces has reinforced negative perceptions of the struggle against terrorism in Islamic countries.
Christianity takes many forms, as does Islam. Over-generalizing can become an exercise of prejudice.
Nevertheless, religious nationalists, political extremists such as al-Qaida and other terrorist groups misuse religious language and imagery to pursue their own political objectives, along with coercion and terrorism, to inflame hatred and prejudice.
Muslim leaders must denounce these distortions and abuse of religion by militants and extremists.
The failure to secure a just and peaceful end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with its resulting occupation of Palestinian lands, contributes to some Muslim suspicions and hostilities towards the West and its Christian majority and sometimes spills over into prejudices and distrust.
Peace can only be assured by respect for the religious convictions and practices of others in a reciprocal way in all societies.
I also see hope when the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community of Calgary, the Calgary Council of Churches - with representation from Anglican, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic and United Church communities - the Hussaini Association of Calgary, the Ismaili Muslim Council for the Prairies, the Jewish Council of Calgary and the Muslim Council of Calgary can issue a joint statement which says:
"The Christian, Jewish, and Muslim communities have common roots and share common values. It is this shared heritage that reminds us of the importance of holding what is sacred with the utmost respect.
"Each of our religious communities values freedom of expression; however, all forms of freedom come with responsibilities and so our traditions expect respectful attitudes toward the sacred elements of our faiths.
"Lack of respect is offensive to all communities, be they Christian, Jewish, Muslim or any identifiable group. Calgary prides itself as a growing pluralistic community and, as such, can set an example for communities everywhere by its member's sensitivity to the concerns of others."
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