Religious Leaders Discuss Freedom of Religion or Belief to Promote Peace, Justice & Stronger Societies

Religious Leaders Discuss Freedom of Religion or Belief to Promote Peace, Justice & Stronger Societies in Matera, Italy.

Interreligious tensions follow inevitably…from fearful people and tendencies to scapegoating. Thus, never has thoughtful appreciation for… supporting respect for others been more important.”

— Katherine Marshall

MATERA, ITALY, July 1, 2021 /EINPresswire.com/ — Five international experts on law and religion came together in Matera, Italy on June 30, 2021 to discuss Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) and its essential role in building stronger societies and a more peaceful and prosperous world post-pandemic. David Saperstein, former United States Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, said, “In terms of the broader agenda of G20, we think about the role that religious communities play in education, in providing healthcare, in rehabilitation, in feeding hungry people, in conflict resolution. The voice of the religious communities of the world is a powerful ode to the conscience of the nations on behalf of social justice.”

The event acted as a direct follow-up to a meeting of G20 Interfaith leaders centered around rule of law, religious freedom, and solidifying recommendations to the leaders of G20 nations, who will meet in Italy this November. Invited experts discussed how FoRB can help tackle inequality, build a more inclusive global society, protect the most vulnerable, support the economy, and ensure universal access to education.

The panelists discussed how FoRB can positively contribute to the goals of the G20 Interfaith Forum. Susanna Mancini who teaches law at the University of Bologna observed: “As a lawyer and constitutional law scholar, my first thought goes to the possibility of sustaining a common culture of human rights. Human rights are truly a revolutionary discourse…. We don’t think about how profoundly counter-cultural they are. It is key, I think, in this respect, to engage religious communities and make room for minoritarian voices.”

COVID had a pronounced effect on interfaith relationships this past year. Katherine Marshall at the Berkley Center at Georgetown University noticed that “the Janus faces of conflict—negatively in fueling tensions and positively as creative peacebuilding—have particular significance in this time of COVID…. Interreligious tensions follow inevitably, it seems, from fearful people and tendencies to scapegoating. Thus, never has thoughtful appreciation for religious diversity and supporting respect for others been more important.”

The panelists also discussed the UN Sustainable Development Goals. “We need to teach the values of tolerance and respect in our congregations,” commented Javier Martinez-Torron, law professor at Complutense University in Spain. “Religious literacy and social justice are crucial values that need to be explained, so that people focus on the wellbeing of the entire society.”

The webinar was the fourth instalment in the “Ahead of the G20 Series” leading up to the global G20 Interfaith forum that will be held in Bologna, Italy on September 13-15.
For more information, please visit www.g20interfaith.org.

Marianna Richardson
G20 Interfaith Forum
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