Social & Cultural Violence

Religion can be misused by, for example, extremists to incite violence and hatred, or by unscrupulous politicians manipulating sectarian differences for their own ends. Religions for Peace engages religious minorities and majorities in the effort to cultivate respect for diverse religious beliefs, and stand together in solidarity against violence and hatred. Religions for Peace works to counter social and cultural violence targeted at people based on their faith and ethnicity by raising awareness, building social cohesion, advocating for strong laws, and policies and by providing services to survivors of violence and empowering them to take on leadership roles to address such violence.

Welcoming the Other

The global RfP “Welcoming the Other” campaign originated at the 9th World Assembly through commitments made by 600 religious leaders to promote mutual respect, diversity, tolerance and a shared concern for the well-being of the other. Welcoming the Other is about working together, not only to resist threats to human dignity, but also to promote the flourishing of all human beings. It is an opportunity to welcome each person as a co-builder, co-nurturer, and co-steward of our shared well-being, to include living in harmony with nature.

Religions for Peace has developed the Welcoming the Other Guide to Action to support the leaders of the Religions for Peace- affiliated Inter-Religious Councils and groups, the Women of Faith Networks, and the Interfaith Youth Networks. The guide specifically addresses practical actions to engage with the idea of Welcoming the Other – a necessary aspect to promoting the flourishing of human dignity, responsible citizenship, and shared well-being in multi-religious societies. Religions for Peace has supported its national networks to conduct Welcoming the Other initiatives that promote social cohesion, environmental stewardship, inclusivity of the marginalized and oppressed, and full participation in society for minority groups.

Protecting Holy Sites

Holy sites are seen as symbolic entities, and often become targets of religious hostility or aggression. These sites are not just about one religion; they are often part of the cultural and historical heritage of a region and that heritage is impoverished when holy sites are attacked. An attack on one religion leaves all religions vulnerable. Fundamentally, attacks against holy sites degrade our common humanity. That is why diverse religious groups must come together to protect the right to believe and worship in peace.

Religions for Peace protects holy sites and prevents violence by building social cohesion and mutual understanding. In Sri Lanka, Religions for Peace’s national partner helped to raise awareness of the importance of protecting holy sites by encouraging religious leaders to commit to working together on this issue and by identifying communities vulnerable to attack.

In Bosnia, Religions for Peace’s national affiliate, the Inter-Religious Council of Bosnia-Herzegovina (IRC-BiH), has been tracing and responding to attacks on holy sites since 2011. It records attacks on holy sites and works with law enforcement to prosecute cases. IRC-BiH provides an immediate response with multi-religious leaders to speak out against attacks and engages multi-religious leaders and township authorities to visit the site in solidarity.