“There is nothing accidental about the spread of radical politicised religion in our time. It came about because of a series of decisions a half-century ago that led to the creation of an entire educational network of schools and seminaries dedicated to the proposition that loving God means hating the enemies of God.
The end result has been a flood of chaos, violence and destruction that is drowning the innocent and guilty alike.
Today Jews, Christians and Muslims must stand together, in defence of humanity, the sanctity of life, religious freedom and the honour of God himself. The real clash of the 21st century will not be between civilisations or religions, but within them.
It will be between those who accept and those who reject the separation of religion and power.
Those who believe that political problems have religious solutions are deluding themselves as well as failing to understand who Abraham was and what he represented. The confusion of religion and politics was what Abraham and his heirs opposed, not what they endorsed…”
“There must be an international campaign against the teaching and preaching of hate.
Most Western countries have anti-racist legislation that has proved virtually powerless against the vitriol spread through the social media. Education in many countries continues to be a disgrace. If children continue to be taught that non-believers are destined for hell and that Christians and Jews are the greater and lesser Satan, if radio, television, websites and social media pour out a non-stop stream of paranoia and incitement, then Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, with its commitment to religious freedom, will mean nothing.
All the military interventions in the world will not stop the violence.
We need to recover the absolute values that make Abrahamic monotheism the humanising force it has been at its best: the sanctity of life, the dignity of the individual, the twin imperatives of justice and compassion, the moral responsibility of the rich for the poor, the commands to love the neighbour and stranger, the insistence on peaceful modes of conflict resolution and respectful listening to the other side of a case, forgiving the injuries of the past and focusing instead on a future in which the children of the world, of all colours, faith and races, can live together in grace and peace.
These are the ideals on which Jews, Christians and Muslims can converge, widening their embrace to include those of other faiths and none. This does not mean that human nature will change, or that politics will cease to be an arena of conflict. All it means is that politics will remain politics, and not become religion.”
Excerpt from 'Not in God’s Name: Confronting Religious Violence’ by Rabbi Lord Sacks (release date: October 2015).
Photo Credits: Montecruz Foto