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Declaration of Friendship Across Religions

News item | 26-09-2018

World’s most prominent religious leaders invited to Peace Palace in The Hague to combat division, hatred and intolerance

“Historical Declaration of Friendship Across Religions in the making”

Wednesday September 26th 2018, at The Peace Palace in The Hague, the Carnegie Foundation and the Elijah Interfaith Institute announced that a Declaration of friendship across religions intending to foster peace is in the making.

Prominent religious leaders of the various faiths in the world will be invited to sign the declaration at an historic summit at the Peace Palace in June 2020. The declaration aims to counter division, hatred and intolerance between people of different religions by promoting friendship between members of diverse faiths.

While most teachings emphasize friendship within, the declaration aims to extend that also to the religious other. Religious leaders from the Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh, Christian and Jewish traditions have already given their first positive reactions, among them, The Vatican and Pope Francis who sympathize with the idea of the declaration.

Director of the Peace Palace Erik de Baedts said that the summit in The Netherlands will be a huge undertaking that will require the necessary cooperation, but crafting the Declaration is an even more complicated and delicate matter that follows a careful interactive process supported by experts from the Elijah Interfaith Institute, the VU university, The Carnegie Foundation, and others.

Rabbi Dr. Alon Goshen-Gottstein, director of the Elijah Interfaith Institute says that the dissemination and implementation of the ideas within the Declaration into the local religious communities is crucial. To accomplish that, it is envisaged to set an extensive process in motion capturing and spreading the wisdom of religious communities, scholars and prominent religious leaders. The project is meant to include discussions of issues of friendship, common values between religions, freedom of religion as well as approaches and mandates for further dialogue, mutual study and festivities as blueprints and yardsticks for future collaboration between faiths.

The idea of the Declaration comes from a Dutch advertising professional named Mark Woerde and his team at Havas Lemz & Letsheal.org. Woerde initiated a 2017 joint video appeal to Make Friends Across Religions by the most prominent religious leaders aimed at reducing social tension by countering the widespread misperception that followers of religions other than our own view others with mistrust and disdain. While, in reality, results of a new global study (sample size: 56,000) led by the global research institute Motivaction has concluded that people of all faiths are generally open and welcoming to people of other traditions. The appeal to Make Friends Across Religions included personal statements by Pope Francis, the Grand Mufti of Egypt, Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, the Dalai Lama, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, and many others.  The video was seen by millions of people in the news.

Mark Woerde: “We are very honored to pass on the torch today to the Carnegie Foundation that owns the Peace Palace and the Elijah Interfaith Institute to take this initiative to the next level. I am thankful that last year’s video appeal could be the trailer of something bigger and more impactful than what I could foresee; the spiritual leaders invited to actually come together at The Peace Palace. It is my dream that we can all be one family and my hope is that our family name will be Compassion. Handing over the keys to new parties can make this dream come true.”