Leaders of 5 Faiths Decry Violence in Name of Religion

June 30, 2007

Author: K. Connie Kang

Source: Los Angeles Times


In a historic action, top leaders of five great religions met this month in Indonesia — home to 200 million Muslims — to condemn violence inflicted in the name of religion.

The leaders representing Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish and Muslim traditions came from five countries and included former Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid and Los Angeles Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

The group said in a joint communique that the world's spiritual leaders have a "special obligation" to denounce "horrific acts" committed in the name of religion. The Los Angeles-based Wiesenthal Center was a co-sponsor of the event.

"If we are honest with ourselves, we have not been up to the challenge," Cooper said in an interview last week after his return from Indonesia. "Part of it is that we have to get by the [politically correct] and just deal honestly."

The interfaith meeting was an important step toward that goal, participants said.

In the communique, the religious leaders said: "A blessing to all creation, religion is a constant reminder to humanity of the divine spark in every person. Yet, today the world shudders as horrific acts are justified in the name of religion. All too often, hatred and violence replace peace as religion is manipulated for political purposes."

They also urged that their counterparts around the world follow their example and commit to mobilizing their communities to "not only respect, but also defend, the rights of others to live and worship differently."