Argue for or Against the Thesis That Peaceful Cooperation Among People From Different Religions Will Be More Likely If People Use Secular Ideals as a Common Mediating Ground for Dialogue, Rather Than Using Ideas Unique to People’s Own Religious Traditions
The threat of religious extremism is real and well documented. The connection between religion and conflict is in the process of being thoroughly explored, however, to the extent that hyperbole and exaggeration are commonplace. In the popular mind, to discuss religion in the context of international affairs automatically raises the specter of religious-based conflict. The many other dimensions and impacts of religion tend to be downplayed or even neglected entirely.
This can lead to inflexibility and intolerance in the face of other beliefs. After all, if it is the word of God, how can one compromise it? At the same time, scripture and dogma are often vague and open to interpretation. Therefore, conflict can arise over whose interpretation is the correct one, a conflict that ultimately cannot be solved because there is no arbiter. The winner generally is the interpretation that attracts the most followers. However, those followers must also be motivated to action. Although, almost invariably, the majority of any faith hold moderate views, they are often more complacent, whereas extremists are motivated to bring their interpretation of God's will to fruition. Religious extremists can contribute to conflict escalation. They see radical measures as necessary to fulfilling God's wishes. Fundamentalists of any religion tend to take a Manichean view of the world. If the world is a struggle between good and evil, it is hard to justify compromising with the devil. Any sign of moderation can be decried as selling out, more importantly, of abandoning God's will.
Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to explain the origin of life or the universe. They tend to derive morality, ethics, religious laws or a preferred lifestyle from their ideas about the cosmos and human nature.
Mary Anderson, Do No Harm: How Aid Can Support Peace or War. 1999 Boulder, CO: Lynne Reinner Publishers.
Catherine Morris Peacebuilding in Cambodia: The Role of Religion http://www.peacemakers.ca/research/Cambodia/Cambodia2000ExecSum.html
John Paul Lederach, The Journey Toward Reconciliation (Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1999).
Can Faith-Based NGOs Advance Interfaith Reconciliation? The Case of Bosnia and Herzegovina