Violence in the Name of Religion Where does it come from? Not from the teachings of the religions themselves!

The membership of the Edmonton Interfaith Centre for Education and Action includes more than a dozen different faith traditions, and many denominations within those faiths, including Baha’is, Christians, Hindus, Muslims, Jews, Sikhs, Zoroastrians, Jains, Unitarians, Buddhists, Swedenborgians, and followers of Eckankar. The Centre, established in 1995, is dedicated to building understanding and respect for the diverse religious traditions that make up the fabric of life in Edmonton. We, the board of the Edmonton Interfaith Centre,wish to state emphatically that no religion promotes violence of any kind.The terrorist acts and threats of the past weeks are not condoned by any religions. Those who indulge in terrorism areacting according to their own misguided personal ideologies and misinterpretations, andfor their own agendas. Religions teach us that violence is not the answer – to anything. Words like Salam, Shalom, Shanti, Pax — “peace” unite us all as diverse parts of a single humanity, each of us created in the image, or containing an aspect of the divine. Traditions like the Golden Rule – “Love your neighbour as yourself” express the reciprocity that our traditions teach for each person to their fellows. It is a perversion of our traditions and all that they contain when they are used as excuses for violence. Fostering spiritual values and encouraging faith practices enhances the quality of life in our communities. Religious and racial-cultural profiling does exactly the opposite! Would we actually stop our personal use and enjoyment of the automobile and blame XYZ Motor Co. for the deaths of our family members caused by a distracted driver? In the wake of the recent tragedy in Boston, and the threats indicated by the arrests of suspected terrorists in Toronto and Montreal, what can we, as a diverse and caring community, do? How can we overcome stereotypes and suspicion? How can we counteract the fear that is raised by these events and accentuated in media coverage? We suggest the following:

  1. Learn more – explore your own faith tradition more thoroughly to see what is (and is not) an authentic expression of that spiritual path.
  2. Get to know our neighbors, participate with them in the projects (such as the Interfaith Habitat for Humanity Build) that celebrate the human spirit and our compassion and caring for others.
  3. Work with our young people to ensure that their natural spiritual hunger is met with authentic and meaningful moral purpose and sense of values.
  4. Pray – In community and at a personal level. Pray for wholeness and peace, for the victims of intentional violence wherever it occurs, and for the courage to live as our best selves in whichever tradition we are found.

In the meantime, we at the Interfaith Centre will continue to plan future events to build interfaith understandings, to explore topics such as the radicalization of youth and responses to terrorism, and to acknowledge the rich diversity of faith, caring, and compassion that is to be found in Edmonton and area. As an organization, we remain committed to understanding and celebrating our unique faith perspectives, and to share our best practices with communities around the world. We will continue to plant seeds of hope and positive pro-activity through education and events of a multi-faith nature.

Signed by all of the members of the Board of EICEA:

Jagjeet Bhardwaj, Rev. Audrey Brooks, Avau Fast, Rev. David Fekete, Karen Gall, Len Gierach, Dr. Julien Hammond, Rev. Rob Hankinson, Rabbi Carmit Harari, Shervin Hemmati, Pat Holt, Dr. David Hubert, Dr. Zohra Husaini, Shiraz Kanji, Nasim Kherani, Rabbi David Kunin, Rev. Don Mayne, Jas Panesar, Kathie Reith, Bodhi Sakyadhita, Rev. Rick Van Manen.