Religion is described as the act of worshiping, believing in, and having faith in a supreme being. Belonging to a particular religious community provides a framework for one’s actions, character, and practices. Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and a variety of other religious communities exist in today’s world (Hasenclever, Andreas, and Volker Rittberger 641). Throughout history, major conflicts have erupted between people of various backgrounds, mostly as a result of religious, political, or ethnic differences, among other factors. Religious organizations play an important role in restoring and preaching unity since they are led by a set of moral values. Therefore, this paper seeks to determine some of the expectations and roles religion plays or rather should exercise when it comes to conflict and war.
Promote dialogue and Interaction with people from the society
According to Hasenclever et al, places of worship are based on ethical convictions which are the major drivers of peace. Therefore, making these ethics known to as many people as possible especially to those vulnerable to war helps bring unity. The religious leaders can facilitate dialogue among conflicting groups through the group leaders or those who seem to have great influence among those in war. This can successfully be done by collaborating with non-governmental organizations and other peace keeping groups that work towards uniting people and reducing world conflicts. In reference to the Christian and Islamic faiths, loving one another and reconciliation is core. During the World War II, the European communities were constructed through the peaceful work of Christians, who collaborated with the citizens in bringing peace and unity (Neuberg 200). This means that working together with one another to preach unity and love is a source of a peaceful state.
Mediation based on faith contributes to peace and conflict resolution because religious leaders are trusted, practice professionalism and are close to the members of the society. Therefore, they are in a better position to solve problems affecting people in conflict. For instance, the Catholic NGO Sant Egidio and Buddhist actors in Cambodia that promotes human rights are some of the groups that have successfully worked in war dominated areas to restore peace and positive change especially in the Middle East countries (Neuberg 198). Leaders such as Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi were inspired by religious values to prevent violence and promote peace in variety of ways.
More research from religious perspectives
The world has transformed from liberalism, Marxism and nation-builders to the one governed by politics and religion. Research is therefore important to determine and examine some of the existing and evolving problems to conflict and war. Often, people have viewed religion as a cause of conflict. For instance, Samuel Huntington categorized the world into nine civilized groups and stated that they would compete with each other based on religious grounds. He further went ahead to explain that conflicting ideas among different religious groups fosters conflict (Shore). Such arguments have commonly arisen to explain causes of conflict in the world. However, religion is a driver of peace where people come together as a sign of love to worship and fellowship together. More research is hence necessary to avoid assumptions and present facts that define possible and existing causes of conflict in the world as well as solutions to the problem.
Act as Role Models
Another important role of religion on war and conflict is for them to live peaceful and loving lives. It would be ironical to promote peace and not practice it as a believer. For example, the Muslims are exposed to the standard expected values from a young age. Therefore, each individual is expected to live as per the expected values. Such practices are extended to include reconciliation and forgiveness. Therefore, promoting and living loving and caring lives among people of the same religious group emanates a good example to others.
Collaboration among different Religious Groups
In addition, people from various religious groups need to work together to bring about social justice and unity. Muslims believe that a nation cannot succeed without promoting sustainable welfare for the underprivileged, the poor and other needy people (Hasenclever et al. 670). Taking care of such issues promotes human dignity, equality and elimination of differences among people from various ethnic groups. Therefore, bridging the gaps among people from different cultures, ethnic and religious groups by treating each other equally would finally lead towards eradication of war and conflict. Bringing together different ideas results to solutions that would be hard to find if various ideas are not brought together. It is also a way of showing unity to other people and an act of being role models to the members of the society.
Educating people on the Need to promote and Maintain Peace
Educating people about the need for peace and unity especially those living in war areas is a role people from different religions have to seriously undertake in order to fight against unnecessary war. Most people who engage in ethnic and religious conflicts lack the necessary knowledge about the disadvantages and negative effects they cause to themselves, their country, region, and the world at large. For instance, most people in war prevalent countries such as Somalia and Iraq lack the resources and time to attend to school and religious teachings. Most of them rely on advises from their parents and other people from the same ethnic group or community. Such advises are misleading and only lead to more conflicts, war and division. Hence, educating and creating awareness about the importance of peace and unity among these people by various religious groups brings peace in the society.
Interreligious training is therefore important. First, the training must start among people of a certain religion, and then collaborate with those from other groups through the use of scriptures, teachings from holy books and traditional beliefs of peacemaking. Incorporating humane practices that are non-violent helps in dealing with potential or already existing war practices. Also, such cooperation eliminates conflicts that emanate from religious disagreements. Therefore through the trainings, people will be able to detect potential conflicts early enough, detect warning signs, and deal with possible threats.
Participating in policymaking and taking leadership positions
It is helpful for religious leaders to get involved in formulation of policies, take top leadership positions in the government and give advises on solutions of preventing and dealing with war in a country. Any country requires basic religious values to succeed. The incorporation of strong religious leaders creates the opportunity for a peaceful country as well as in the bringing up of a generation of people with good moral values who promote peace and love each other regardless of differences in race, ethnicity, religion or social status. Religious leaders are known to promote peace both on a national and international level. This is evident from the contribution of Martin Luther, who used his religious knowledge to promote peace in his country.
From the above discussion, it is clear that religion contributes majorly to the prevention and resolving of conflicts among people living in war areas. It needs the time to work together with the policymakers, analyze problems affecting the society, articulate ideas, and come up with solutions. Therefore, taking a critical approach of interacting with people in conflict, training as many people as possible on the importance of peace, and being good role models would work successfully towards a peaceful world.
However, as the religious groups work together, they need support from the state government, other peacemaking groups and the entire society. Some religious groups have been working towards a world free from conflict and war, but have faced various challenges such as rejection and intimidation from some groups of people. Therefore, there is the need to change tactics and find ways of relating with such people through cooperating even with other non-religious groups to reach out to some of the most war prevalent areas in the world. Preaching peace and unity requires dedication, strong faith, courage, selflessness and collaboration.
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Neuberg, Steven L., et al. “Religion and intergroup conflict: Findings from the global group
relations project.” Psychological science 25.1 (2014): 198-206.
Shore, Megan. Religion and Conflict Resolution: Christianity and South Africa’s Truth and
Reconciliation Commission. Routledge, 2016.