Issue 42, December 2003
“No one religion better than the others”
International Meeting of Pluralist Theologians/Religious Scholars
Press Release, September 10, 2003
Calling on all religions of the world to recognize their mutual validity and to desist from claiming that any one religion is the “one and only” or the “best,” a group of 35 religious scholars from Asia, Europe and the United States meet at the University of Birmingham, England, Sept. 6-9. Their conference was titled “The Pluralist Model: A Multireligious Exploration.”
Participants recognized the link between absolute truth claims and the exploitation of religion to promote violence. They explored resources within all religious traditions (Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam) to show that no religion can claim to have the “absolute truth” or to be better than all the others.
The organizers of the conference were John Hick (University of Birmingham), Paul Knitter (Xavier University, Cincinnati), Perry Schmidt-Leukel (University of Glasgow), Leonard Swidler (Temple University).
The forty participants agreed on the following “Key Principles of Religious Pluralism” :-
1. Interreligious Dialogue and engagement should be the way for religions to relate to one another. A paramount need is for religions to heal antagonisms among themselves.
2. The dialogue should engage the pressing problems of the world today, including war, violence, poverty, environmental devastation, gender injustice and violation of human rights.
3. Absolute truth claims can easily be exploited to incite religious hatred and violence.
4. The religions of the world affirm ultimate reality/truth which is conceptualized in different ways.
5. While ultimate reality/truth is beyond the scope of complete human understanding, it has found expression in diverse ways in the world’s religions.
6. The great world religions with their diverse teachings and practices constitute authentic paths to the supreme good.
7. The world’s religions share many essential values, such as love, compassion, equality, honesty, and the ideal of treating others as one wishes to be treated oneself.
8. All persons have freedom of conscience and the right to choose their own faith.
9. While mutual witnessing promotes mutual respect, proselytizing devalues the faith of the other.
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