Harmony and freedom are two crucial concepts within religious life. Those concepts are not simply realized by the religious community as such, eventhough it takes a long process to achieve, we must maintain the sustainability by putting on siginificant efforts. Not only acted by religious groups, this struggle must be supported by the political groups as well. That is the outline of a presentation delivered by Simone Sinn at CRCS-ICRS Wednesday Forum, last November 24th 2010.
Simone, a researcher and a Ph.D. candidate from the Faculty of Protestant Theology, University of Münster, Germany, delivered a presentation titled “Religious Harmony and Religious Freedom: Theological and Societal Considerations on Two Prominent Concepts.” In the forum moderated by Vanny Suitela, a CRCS graduate, Simone said that the theme raised was based on her ongoing research.
The presentation commenced with the historical explanation about the harmonization process within the scope of Christianity. Growing and developing in Europe, Christianity had a long experience of sectarian issues in the Middle Ages. Peace treaty of Westphalia 1648 in Münster was one of the momentums in which religious groups of the Christian tradition as well as political groups began to realize the importance of religious tolerance.
In further discussion, Simone talked about several issues of religious freedom such as history of religion that always presents problems of minorities, and the sensitivity upon differences and conversions. As history developed, religious groups began to accept the concept of religious freedom. According to Simone, in this case, Indonesia has a strong capital under its motto of Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (Unity in Diversity).
In the closing part, presentation reviewed the problems of human being in the view of religions. Indeed, Individual rights must be placed in a central position, but however, each individual also has a central position in the relation-making process of religions. Moreover, political power must realize its role as an authority in establishing rules for the continuity of relations among adherents and institutions of religions.
In the question and answer session, a critical question appeared as he was questioning Simone’s research over an indication to legitimate the status quo establishment. As a response, Simone admitted that the issues of communal harmony and religious freedom are inseparably linked with the existence of the status quo. Nevertheless, the attempts in harmonizing religious life do not aim to preserve the power establishment, but instead, they require more of the roles of power.
Simone shared an experience of a case in her country, Germany, regarding the issue of religious harmony in the contemporary era. The Turkish descent-Muslims in Germany become dominant immigrants, and so far, according to Simone, the German government has tried to optimally provide rights of citizenship to the minorities, as appropriate. Ideally, such policy has to be done by any political rulers everywhere. [MoU]
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