Religion and Peacemaking
There is a certain transformative, transcendent power inherent in faith and a certain fragility. It is through faith in the unseen, in a higher power, that humans have found shared senses of meaning and order out of chaos. It is within the lofty cathedrals, in synagogues and small south pacific huts that religion has created systems of meaning, of joy and of quiet internal peace in the face of sorrow and despair. Yet that is not the only story of faith and religion. In times of direct challenge to an internal order, in times of anomie and tribulation, faith becomes less a means to an end and more an object that must be protected and preserved. Some of the most horrific episodes of violence and genocide have been committed in the name of faith.
Religion is often pinpointed as the source of many of the sociopolitical conflicts in the world. But can it also be part of the solution? This roundtable looks at the role grassroots religious peacebuilders can play in resolving both community and international conflicts. The roundtable chair, Chad Ford, has spent the last 15 years working in the field with religious leaders in Northern Ireland and the Middle East to find ways, doctrinally, culturally and practically to counteract the growing threat of fundamentalism. Together delegates will explore theoretical, doctrinal and practical ways of using religious faith as a tool in peacebuilding.
When dealt with sensitively, and in a way that preserves and respects the need for meaning among the individual participants, the existence of complex religious beliefs, far from being a hindrance to resolution, may be the vehicle and catalyst to obtain lasting conflict transformation — creating new worlds of cooperative understanding, mutual respect and meaning that preserve and strengthen the fragile identity of faith.
Student Assistant: TBA