Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Welcome and Introduction

The Institute for Religious Tolerance, Peace and Justice was founded to promote religious tolerance, coexistence, and interfaith dialogue.  By promoting interfaith dialogue and universal respect for different faiths, we seek to minimize the conflicts that are shaped by religion and employ religion as their excuse.  We seek to disarm the religious intolerance that is often the cause and underlying root of oppression and warfare.  We seek to educate the general public—through a variety of methods—about the diversity of religious beliefs around the world in an attempt to combat religious oppression, intolerance and violence.  We highlight the commonalities shared by all peoples as a stepping stone to the peacemaking process.  By tackling religious intolerance as the root problem of many of our modern difficulties, we will be better able to handle them.  We seek to have far reaching and long lasting effects in helping the world to mature to a more peaceable, tolerant and just place. 

While there are many other organizations currently in existence which promote interfaith dialogue and religious tolerance, it appears that most of these are linked to a particular faith or denomination.  Also, most of these focus their efforts on dialogue between clergy and scholars of those particular religions. While this is a noble and effective tack, we have found that what is missing today is a focused effort to reach the general public and create a grass-roots movement to further interfaith dialogue.  It is the average citizen and adherent of the various world religions who most need to hear the message of religious tolerance and interfaith dialogue.  It is this sector of the community that we most actively target. 

At this time, we seek partnerships with churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, and other religious organizations and centers of worship and religious expression, hoping to rally the forces of tolerance, peace and justice, to combat the unseen enemies – apathy, hatred, misunderstanding, and fear.  By bringing the sentiments of religious tolerance and interfaith dialogue and collaboration, already known to those in academia, to the general lay public, we can combat injustice and solidify peaceful coexistence as neighbors and ambassadors from our own religions to each other’s.  We seek to “evangelize” for the new creed: religious tolerance.  We seek to bring this message of universal coexistence to all those who might not have heard of it, or experienced its lovely tones.  Through a variety of forms of mass media, through public lectures and talks open to anyone, through works of charity and compassion by our constituent members and organizations, we seek to demonstrate the humanity behind our religious traditions to those who had previously feared us and recoiled from us.  We seek to make peace at a grass roots level, so that there will be nowhere for intolerance and hatred and fear to hide.  Like shadows illumined by the light of dawn, we seek to abolish these enemies gently but swiftly.  We seek to replace them with love, understanding, and cooperation.  Together, we can and will do it! 

Blessings to all of our supporters.  

L. Arik Greenberg, Ph.D.