Current Challenges for Interfaith Activity

On March 25, the Vancouver Chapter of the Universal Peace Federation held a conference on the theme of “Current Challenges of Interfaith Activity.” Presenters included Rev. Laurie Deacon, Cindy Song, Acharya Dwivedi, Imam Fode Drame and Rev. Franco Famularo.

The following are speaking notes used by Acharya Dwivedi for his presentation:

It is most welcoming trend that more and more people are engaged in dialogues with people of other religions and spirituality; and new organizations are being formed to promote interfaith philosophy and values. Moreover, it is equally encouraging that main stream print media, television and radio outlets are covering the interfaith events; and I’m excited about these developments. Although the interfaith movement is getting momentum but with this it is essential to discuss the challenges interfaith activity is facing now.

The core value of interfaith is ‘love for all and hatred for none’ or ‘Live and let live’

  1. Challenges within own community. Interfaith activist often encounters opposition from own people and those who oppose feel that interfaith workers are deviating from their own religions and promoting others. They think that the interfaith activists are advocating about a new kind of faith. This reflects the insecurity about their own religion and misunderstanding about interfaith. Actually, interfaith cultivates respect for all and love for own faith.
  2. Interfaith is facing threat from the violent abuse of religion that undermines the peaceful existence. On the name of religion people try to justify their evil and terrorist acts. Now a days most of the newspapers and television shows are found carrying the news of bomb blast, trampling by vehicles, massacre and terrorists attacks on innocent people.People have been forced to live constantly in immense fear. It is all the result of radical elements who are twisting the scriptural words to boost their own propaganda.
  3. A. Theological issues. Some times in interfaith symposiums and conferences not theological experts are called but lay persons are invited to reflect on the subject from their respective religion who do not do justice with the subject that results in more misunderstanding.
    B. Conflict between personal values with interfaith values.
    C. People who are not with defined faith such as agnostics and atheists should be included in the interfaith dialogue.
  4. Individual’s religious identity is not diminished or compromised. We have “to agree to disagree” means we have to respect the differences.
  5. Interfaith is not to proselytize or convert others but to learn other beliefs and traditions. We should speak as high as we can about our own religions without criticizing and degrading others. For meaningful relationship, we should have positive attitudes towards others. Focus should be on similarities than our differences.
  6. Approach of ‘Post Modernism’. This approach declares that each religion is a completely self contained system. This leads to the claim that interfaith dialogue is impossible because the participants are never talking the same language or mean the same thing.
  7. Grassroots approach- Peace building, more community work, events and programs.
  8. Youth and children should be included in interfaith activity. Interfaith syllabus for school children will help significantly in developing respect for each others.
  9. Interfaith literature should be available for peace officer, medical practitioner and civic dignitaries etc. that is not sufficiently available.
  10. Social Media should be tapped to promote interfaith activity which is not adequately done now.
  11. Cooperative,constructive and positive interaction within the interfaith groups are needed.

Preconditions for Interfaith Activity are humility, commitment, empathy, hospitality and respect.

Mr. Alan Wilding and his wife Michiko Wilding, Director of the Western Canada of the Universal Peace Federation organized and hosted a seminar on March 25, 2017 at Nikkei National Museum in Burnaby. The theme was “Current Challenges of Interfaith Activity”. Alan Wilding, Acharya S.P.Dwivedi, Rev.Laurie Deacon, Franco Famularo (Montreal), Cindy Song( Adherent of Falun Gong) and Mr. Bassam Javed (Zawiyah Foundation) spoke on the subject.A large number of interfaith and spiritual leaders, across Metro Vancouver, participated in the question and answer period. Mr Alan Wilding concluded the seminar by providing a summary of the main points presented by speakers during the seminar.

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