Spiritual Leaders Denounce Violence in Religion's Name

July 7, 2007

Author: K. Connie Kang

Source: HeraldNet / the Los Angeles Times


In a historic action, top leaders of five major religions met in June 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 Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles.

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 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 PC (politically correct) and just deal honestly."

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

"The truth is that we're in this mess primarily because of religious leaders, and we're only going to get out of it if we find religious leaders who will have the guts to change this. That's the bottom line," Cooper said.