Make Friends Across Religions, Religious Leaders Appeal

Make Friends

“Make Friends” is an initiative of the Elijah Interfaith Institute; a nonprofit, international, UNESCO-sponsored interfaith organization which was founded by Rabbi Alon Goshen-Gottstein in 1996 with offices in Israel and the United States. We can see the joint statement of 22 world’s most important religious leaders in an interesting video.

In a rare movie, world’s most prominent religious leaders are giving short but effective advices how religion can be used as a bridge between people not a stumbling block. Leaders from Christian, Muslim, Jewish and other faiths are talking about reconciliation of different perceptions of faith. Muslim cleric Ayatollah Sayyid Fadhel Al-Milani says in the video: "Our advice is to make friends to followers of all religions.” “My religious life became richer with his explanations, so much richer,” Francis said of Argentinean Rabbi Abraham Skorka. “And I guess the same happened for him.”

Rabbi Dr. Alon Goshen-Gottstein said about the joint statement that it represents "a significant novelty from a theological perspective." "We cannot deny that in the books of many religions you can find texts that are not very open, even hostile, to people of other faiths," he said. "Therefore, when the world's most important leaders call for friendship, they are in fact affirming a particular way of practicing religion and rejecting another."

“Personal contact, personal friendship then we can exchange a deeper level of experience,” said the Dalai Lama. “One of the wonderful things about spending time with people completely unlike you is you discover how much you have in common. The same fears, the same hopes, the same concerns,” Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks said.

“Friendship and getting to know one another are the antidotes to negativity and divisions in society, enhancing understanding and unity,” stands on the official site of the Elijah Interfaith Institute. Certainly, people should be more tolerant and open to differences which can be seen everywhere. The lack of understanding between different races, religions, sexual orientations etc is often a reason for violence.

But, what about people who are not religious? We don’t see in this video any message addressed to non-religious and their number is growing every day.

Photo Credits: The American Catholic

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