World’s Largest Coalition of Religious Leaders Urged to be ‘Moral Conscience’ of Their Nations and Refrain from Getting Involved in Politics

Anantanand Rambachan, professor of religion at St. Olaf College and co-president of Religions for Peace, United States, speaks at the Religions for Peace conference in New York City on Dec. 11, 2019. | The Christian Post/Leonardo Blair

A Minnesota professor of religion warned the world’s largest coalition of religious leaders that getting involved in politics can compromise their “moral voices” and suggested they should instead aspire to be the “moral conscience” of their countries to promote a more effective agenda of peace.

“I think we have to acknowledge as religious leaders, as religious communities, how easy it is that we have been seduced by the trappings of the state, seduced by the opportunity for power, as a result of which we tend to compromise our moral voices, our ethical voices,” Anantanand Rambachan, a Hindu professor of religion at St. Olaf College, said during a plenary session on advancing multi-stakeholder partnership for freedom of thought, conscience and religion at the Religions for Peace conference which ended on Friday.

Religions for Peace is the world’s largest and most representative multi-religious coalition advancing common action among religious communities for peace. The organization works to transform violent conflict, advance human development, promote just and harmonious societies, and protect the Earth.

Responding a question about what the right relationship between states and religious communities should be, Rambachan argued for the position of the “moral conscience.”

“I’ll put it this way, we should not aspire to be the masters of the state, nor should we aspire to be the servant of the state. We should aim to be the moral conscience of all the countries that we live in, especially the moral voice and the moral conscience for those who are powerless, those who are marginalized, those who are oppressed,”  Rambachan said Wednesday.

Members of the panel such as Jakob Finci, president of the Jewish Community of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Bani Dugal, principal representative to the U.N.’s, Bahá’í International Community and co-president of Religions for Peace, U.S., also noted how religion has been exploited in many parts of the world to wage conflict.

“Everyone knows how to use religion to start a war but nobody knows how religion can be used for the peaceful solutions,” he quipped.

He suggested, however, that people within different religions should work to know more about each other and their faith traditions.

“The reasons for the war is not knowing each other,” he said.

In June, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres launched the U.N. Strategy and Plan of Action on Hate Speech and told member states they need to “do better at looking out for each other.”

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Leonardo Blair