Religion should be source of peace: symposium

Dr. Kevin Saldanha

Religion should be a source of peace, not terror.

That was the general consensus at the conclusion of last week’s Interfaith Symposium hosted by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community at the Milton Centre for the Arts.

“I am not denying that religious people are fighting but the reasons are not religious,” stated Muhammad Afzal Mirza during the presentation, which sought to answer the question ‘Religion: A Source of Terror or Peace?’

“No religion tells you to fight. Religion is nothing but promotion of peace. People don’t believe in God, you think they don’t fight? Religion is not meant to put you in hardship or incite violence.

“Love it, follow it, cherish it. Everyone has a religion, everyone has a prophet. In the Quran there is not a single verse which dictates Muslims go and fight.”

The evening featured presentations by representatives of the Jewish, Christian and Islam faiths, as well as Humanism and was designed “to enrich the unity of mankind in our area,” said Mohammad Sultan Qureshi, secretary general of affairs for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Milton.

The son of Holocaust survivors, Arthur Roman of Oakville’s Shaarei-Beth El synagogue said he was often left in the care of a German family after the family emigrated to Canada following the Second World War. He never knew the words animosity or prejudice; he only knew hospitality and tolerance, the foundation of his parents’ deeply-rooted faith.

‘Ego and power the problem’

It’s peoples’ ego and power politics, not religion that’s the source of violence and terror in the world, said Roman. “When we learn history, we focus on wars, not peace because that’s not that exciting. I feel peace among religions is mostly already here.”

Roman said he enjoys friendships with people of many faiths and those relationships have enhanced and deepened his own faith.

“Religion: a source of terror or peace? — what do you want it to be,” queried Pastor Dan Roggie of New Life Church.

“It’s a profound question and impacts the root of our society,” he said.

The moment religion is added to any equation, sworn allegiances surface that can’t be violated; there’s no room for compromise, said Roggie. “I think if we can find a place of understanding we might learn to live at greater peace with each other.”

Through inner peace, genuine world peace can be achieved, said Humanist Dr. Kevin Saldanha.

The world’s problems of overpopulation and climate change require more than prayers to solve, he said.

“Science is very straightforward; it gives us the information on what to do. I think we’ve almost painted ourselves into a religious corner,” said Saldhana.

Religion brings about a complacency, people waiting for God to save them, said Saldhana.

Even Humanists have fundamentalists and moderates, he said. “We have to work together with humanists of all different faiths. You are all humanists.”

The entire Dr Saldanha's presentation can be found here:

Dr K. Saldanha's Presentation at the Interfaith Symposium 2011 [4.7 mb]