The Peace Makers: Community conversation delves into role of religions in healing society

Almost 300 people participated in a round table discussion on interfaith religions Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016 at Cristo Rey St. Martin, the first of what is hoped to be a series of community dialogues on how local Christian, Muslim, Jewish and Sikh faith leaders can create peace. More than 120 people attended the event and another 165 tuned into the live stream.

“We are humbled and so excited to be here today to foster interfaith dialogue,” said Jim Dippold, director of CRSM Campus Ministry. “Part of our mission as Christians is to build bridges with all faiths so that we can create justice and peace throughout our world. Today reminds us that God is not absent from the world, even when we seem to be in the darkness, God is the light among us.”

On the Feast of Cristo Rey, and in honor of Religious Founder’s Day, the CRSM community hosted the interfaith event with guests of all ages from the Ahmadiyya Muslim Mosque in Zion, the Sikh Religious Society in Palatine, Congregation Beth Am Buffalo Grove and Rev. Corey Brost, C.S.V., founder of The Children of Abraham, a suburban Chicago coalition of Muslims, Jews and Christians working for interfaith peace.

“Our nation is in the middle of a difficult time, filled with division and harshness,” Rabbi Lisa Bellows of Congregation Beth Am in Buffalo Grove said. “We are in need of hope and healing. Help us to create a nation of love, not hate, filled with compassion, not prejudice.”

“The hope is that through education, the group can help paint a more balanced picture of what true Islam is all about, instead of one where terrorism abounds,” said Tayyib Rashid, public relations director for Ahmadiyya (Zion). “Through interfaith understanding, we can come to know we have more in common that what seems like differences. We are all part of the same human race and all have value. Fear and bigotry thrive when we lack that familiarity.”

“Coming on the heels of the recent presidential election, the call for people of different faiths to work closely together is more heightened than ever,” said Rev. Brost. He pointed to the FBI statistics that show that of the 5,000 hate crimes in the United States in 2015, 20 percent were religious – more than 1,000 people were victims because of their religion.
“We must hold as one of our deepest values the protection of the most vulnerable and the right for religious groups to organize so that people can share those values,” said Rev. Brost. “America will go where Americans take us and we must stand strong so that we can hold those values deeply.”

In the end, all agreed to move forward together with a goal to join forces to create peace and unity and to work alongside each other to create future opportunities for dialogue.

“We all are here because we desire peace for our families, our friends and all of America,” said Gaurav Singh, of the Sikh Religious Society. “In our religion every prayer ends with ‘the well-being of all.’ We pray here today for the coming of grace embodied in loving. The deepest way to end oppression is through love.”

If you missed the event, you can watch it here.