Session One Summary
Session One consisted of the following three framing questions for the panelists:
What does your religion teach about righteousness or living a life of integrity?
What does your religion teach about values that you believe are important for a properly-functioning democratic society?
How are these teachings on righteousness and democratic values related to personal fulfillment and how are they a benefit for a family, community or society?
Key takeaways from Session One include:
All three Abrahamic faith traditions teach the concept of “love your neighbor” and the golden rule of treat your neighbors as you wish to be treated, as part of righteousness. “Neighbor” can be broadly understood to include not only friends and members of our own communities, but also fellow citizens and fellow human beings.
The three religions share the view that righteousness consists of belief (faith in God, etc.) as well as action, meaning that belief alone is not enough—you must do good for others/society as part of your faith.
This core teaching of righteousness in all three religions that includes loving/caring for others, and doing good for others, is an important way that religion supports and enhances a strong democracy.
The three religions also have teachings that can be used to support our democratic values of pluralism (our diversity is God’s will), equality, truth, and justice, among others.
By practicing what our religions teach, we can overcome the hate and violence surrounding us, as the core teachings of love and respect infuse all three faiths and are ultimately more powerful.
While a fringe minority may act violently in the name of any of the three religions, it is not only the religious who are violent. Violence in the name of religion reflects our human weakness and a failure to understand and properly implement religion; it is a manifestation of spiritual disease and people in society being broken and disconnected from the core teachings of our faiths. We need better understanding and implementation of our religion, not less religion.
The countless everyday examples of good done in the name of religion do not get as much publicity or attention as the bad.
While there are different complex reasons for why people engage in violence in general, ignorance drives misunderstandings of scripture, and fear perpetuates division and disunity. Violence is never the solution.
It is unique to have a panel of three women representing the three religions, and the voice of women is critical in helping us achieve our common goals and helping society achieve proper understanding and implementation of the core teachings of all three faiths.
We are living in a society that is becoming increasingly uncivilized. To change this trend, we must speak loudly with courage, consistent with the common moral teachings of our religions.
Media plays a significant role in building and enforcing stereotypes and we need to educate and inform others that media does not always reflect reality; we need to play a role in changing media messaging.
We need leadership and people who are willing to stand up for our shared democratic values, and teach pluralism and tolerance.
We should come together in more ways to learn about each other and then to share what we learn with others.
We, good people of all religious backgrounds, must be willing to be loud and speak truth to power, using the powerful positive teachings and virtues of all of our faiths.
Actions individuals are encouraged to take:
Change what is within ourselves so we can become better family members, neighbors, and citizens, by practicing righteousness and “doing good” for our neighbors in our everyday lives.
Address our own stereotypes and misunderstandings by reaching out and getting to know those who are different from us. Our many commonalities should provide bridges to bring us together.
Get involved in the community and work with other religious communities to make a difference through love and service.
Remain positive and optimistic, and do good for the sake of God (e., do God’s work).
Educate ourselves and others—use our voices to loudly educate others through mainstream media and help guide members of the public to be their best selves.
TAKE ACTION NOW: write articles or letters to the editor about your experience at Standing Together or through other interfaith work, post and promote similar messages on social media, and otherwise help positively change public opinion.TAKE ACTION NOW: