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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Texas Faith : Why are religious hostilities on the rise across the world?

As hostilities rise across much of the world, we need to examine if it is the religion itself or the human insecurity that drives us to be at each others' throats in the avatar of religion, and what can be done about it.

Texas Faith : Why are religious hostilities on the rise across the world?

By Wayne Slater
3:20 pm on January 21, 2014 | Permalink

A new poll finds that religious hostilities have increased in almost every major region of the world. Perhaps not surprisingly, the sharpest increase was in the Middle East and North Africa, most likely an after effect of the 2010-11 political uprisings known as the Arab Spring. But the Pew Research Center study also found a significant increase in religious hostilities in China and the Asia-Pacific region.

Some numbers in the new report: a third (33%) of the 198 countries and territories included in the study had high religious hostilities in 2012, up from 29% in 2011 and 20% as of mid-2007. Here’s the link: http://www.pewforum.org/2014/01/14/religious-hostilities-reach-six-year-high/

The study looked at efforts by governments to ban particular faiths, prohibit conversations and give preferential treatment to some religious groups at the expense of others. Those haven’t changed significantly. But acts of overt hostility toward religion – religion-related armed conflict or terrorism, mob or sectarian violence, harassment over attire for religious reasons or other religion related intimidation or abuse — have increased.

Incidents of abuse targeting religious minorities seen as offensive or threatening to the majority faith are up. In Libya, for instance, two worshippers were killed in an attack on a Coptic Orthodox church. Harassment of women over religious dress occurred in nearly a third of countries in 2012 (32%), compared to less than one-in-ten (7%) as of mid-2007. And mob violence related to religion occurred in a quarter of countries in 2012 (25%) – double the number from five years earlier.

So what’s happening here? Is this just a cycle, a phase? Or is it something else? The power of religious faith to divide as well as to unite has a long history. But clearly in the last few years, people are increasingly using religion for negative and destructive ends in many places.

Why are religious hostilities on the rise across much of the world? What, if anything, can be done about it? Our Texas Faith panel weighs in:

MIKE GHOUSE, President, Foundation for Pluralism and speaker on interfaith matters, Dallas

As hostilities rise across much of the world, we need to examine if it is the religion itself or the human insecurity that drives us to be at each other’s throats in the avatar of religion, and what can be done about it.

The case against religion is weak, as no religion teaches hatred or encourages hostilities. On the contrary, without the abuse factor religion is a positive experience. Indeed, religions are committed to building cohesive societies where no has to live in discomfort or fear of the other. The bottom line of all religions is based on the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would wish to have done unto you; and reject for others what you would reject for yourselves.”

The religious hostilities on the other hand could be less religious in nature than controlling others to buy a fake sense of security.  However, the conflicts are deeply engraved onto our psyche, and untreated they may occasionally erupt in violent and hostile expressions like crusades, inquisitions, 9/11, bombings by individuals and nations, Genocides and Massacres.

The Catholic-Protestant conflict lasted for a long time, now the Shia-Sunni conflict is tearing each other up in Iraq and Syria. A few deeply rooted conflicts among the Muslim-Christian, Christian-Jewish, and Jewish-Muslim, Hindu Muslim or any other combinations need to be addressed. I am working on a proposal to send to Pope Francis to take this further.

The goal ought to be respecting the otherness of others and accepting the God given uniqueness of each one of us, anything short of that will leave unattended-sparks ready to flare up at short notice with the whiff of oxygen.

The Muslim Christian conflict has origins in how each sees Jesus and the Jewish Christian conflict stems from Jesus’ crucifixion. The religious conversions have done a lot of damage between Christian, Hindu, Muslim and Native traditions.
What we need is to have a heart to heart dialogue with each community with a goal to acknowledge the differences and figure out how to live with each other with least conflicts. After all we are inextricably connected to each other in our day to day life.

I am pleased to invite you to attend one such reconciliatory attempt at our 7th annual Holocaust and Genocides event on Sunday, January 26 at 3:00 PM – Unity of Dallas, 6525 Forest Lane, Dallas, TX 75230. Details at www.HolocaustandGenocides.com

To read the opinion of other panelists: http://dallasmorningviewsblog.dallasnews.com/2014/01/texas-faith-why-are-religious-hostilities-on-the-rise-across-the-world.html/#more-33370

Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism
, politics, peace, Islam, Israel, India, interfaith, and cohesion at work place. He is committed to building a Cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day at www.TheGhousediary.com. He believes in Standing up for others and a book with the same title is coming up. Mike has a strong presence on national and local TV, Radio and Print Media. He is a frequent guest on Sean Hannity show on Fox TV, and a commentator on national radio networks, he contributes weekly to the Texas Faith Column at Dallas Morning News; fortnightly at Huffington post; and several other periodicals across the world. His personal site www.MikeGhouse.net indexes all his work through many links.

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