The surge of terrorist attacks around the world has highlighted the need for people across religious and racial fault lines to unite and speak out against such violence. Jamiyah Singapore thus organized an inter-faith seminar and dialogue session on 23 January 2016, titled “Religion and Peace: Reflections with Community Leaders of Islam, Christianity, Buddhism and Hinduism.” Youth and young single adult leaders and representatives from our church were invited to participate in the seminar.
The session opened with a keynote address given by Dr. Shon Hopkins, Assistant Professor of Religious Education from Brigham Young University, who spoke about seven core beliefs common to all religions. He was followed by a series of presentations from the leaders of the Singapore SOKA Association (Buddhism), Sri Krishna Mandir (Hinduism), Office of Mufti of Singapore (Islam), and South Korea’s Heavenly Culture, World Peace, Restoration of Light (HWPL). Each speaker demonstrated how their respective institutions promoted peace in society. After an informative Q&A session with the speakers, the seminar concluded with an address by Mr. Desmond Choo, Member of Parliament for Tampines GRC.
Participants from our church felt that the seminar was enlightening and helped them see the similarities between various religions. Hyrum Li (Woodlands Ward) commented that learning about different religions is good “so that we can understand why they behave the way they do. The presentations helped clear misunderstandings about other religious beliefs.” Li also felt the dialogue session was beneficial as it allowed audience members to seek direct answers from religious leaders, instead of relying on information from the internet. Brysson Torfin (Singapore 4th Ward) was one who asked a question. The youth in the audience were encouraged to answer each other’s questions when possible.
Marie Ellis (Singapore 1st Ward) encourages members to participate in future similar events because such events allow members to appreciate and understand people from other faiths, while simultaneously allowing non-members to learn more about our beliefs.
by Keshia Laiby Keshia Lai