Peacebuilding through Interfaith Dialogue: The Role of Faith-based NGOs
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Religion is frequently considered as a factor in international conflicts (Kimball, 2011). Many scholars have argued that most conflicts are driven from frictions of cultural identity, largely based on religion. Indeed, the recent violent attacks (e.g., the Charlie Hebdo shooting in January 2015; the Wisconsin Sikh temple shooting in August 2012) seem to support the assumption that religion contributes to violent conflict around the world. However, religion can be an invaluable source in promoting understanding and reconciliation, and it can provide a foundation for peacebuilding efforts (Abu-Nimer, 2001). All of the world’s major religions have a significant strain emphasizing peace (Coward & Smith, 2004). Yet, the link between religion and peacemaking is less well documented in the literature. Religious traditions have the resources to help promote peace. Religious leaders and volunteers have proven to be key civil society actors in many efforts to resolve conflicts, serving as intermediaries or helping to facilitate peacebuilding. Coward and Smith (2004) use the term religious peacebuilding to describe the range of activities performed by religious actors and institutions for the purpose of resolving and transforming deadly conflict, with the goal of building social relations and political institutions characterized by a mission of tolerance and nonviolence (p. 6). In addition to conflict resolution, religious peacebuilding includes individual and grassroots efforts for promoting human rights and cross-cultural and interfaith dialogue.
KeywordsConflict Resolution Mission Statement Religious Tradition Religious Leader Religious Community
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