- Some key concerns expressed about international persecution of religious communities and its impact on communities here in Scotland
- Many expressed a desire that the good practices of interfaith engagement in Scotland were shared internationally
- Concern was expressed of a general lack of religious literacy which in turn leads to people stereotyping communities and to a general misunderstanding of religion and religious diversity
- Concern expressed about religious, moral and philosophical education in schools not being treated seriously by the curriculum, teachers or pupils – it was felt that one period per week was inadequate and not fit for purpose
- Concern that negative media portrayal of religious groups and communities leads to erosion of human rights for those communities (Islam particularly mentioned)
- Concern again that negative media portrayal of religious groups leads to a rise in Hate Crime
- The Sikhs in attendance were very concerned about the erosion of religious rights to wear the 5 ks (particularly the Kirpan) and felt that this was due to lack of education and awareness. This can lead to Sikhs not taking part in wider community activities because of fear of being singled out
- Sikhs present also intimated that there was quite a bit of bullying of Sikhs at school which in turn leads to young Sikhs deciding to cut their hair so that they are not singled out
- It was also recommended that additional ethnic minority languages be taught in schools to assist with the appreciation of diversity
- Lack of human rights can lead to low self esteem which in turn leads to lack of aspirations and can account for poor employment levels in some EM communities
- There was concern that Christians are being ‘silenced’ and that event to speak about your religion in public can lead to condemnation (the Rev David Robertson given as an example)
- Need to ensure that ‘times for reflection’ in local authorities and nationally reflect religious diversity
- Importance of labelling of food so that all communities can adhere to their religious teachings re food consumption
- The linking of rights with responsibilities was discussed in detail
- It was felt strongly that it was a human right to ‘manifest’ ones religion publicly
- The clash of ‘rights’ was discussed particularly the rights of LGBTI and the right of some faith communities (LDS in this instance) to adhere to their particular moral teachings that condemn LGBT marriage and are not comfortable with the way sex education is delivered in schools
- Discussion around the fact that many faith communities support LG rights and it is down to a matter of conscience and there should be no compulsion either to support or condemn LG marriage
- The importance of inclusive language in Human Rights discussion was emphasised
- Religious communities are sometimes excluded from key civic discussions despite the fact that they fill many gaps in the area of ‘social justice’
- Religious ‘clashes’ impact on the way the public view religion – interfaith dialogue is a great counterbalance to this
- Scotland praised as a place where Human Rights and Religious Human Rights were taken seriously
- Discussion around the ‘erosion of truth’ in the media and that media reporting can be blatantly untrue and lead to tensions
- Proposed that young people in school are taught how to dialogue
- Huge stigma in UK of being religious at all
- Is there HR fatigue?
- Danger of complacency and not being aware when human rights are being eroded
- Secular concern that there is religious privilege
NOTES FROM A DIALOGUE ON RELIGION AND HUMAN RIGHTS ORGANISED BY INTERFAITH SCOTLAND.
Diwali is the Hindu festival of light. It is associated with the story of Rama and Sita who return from exile having defeated the wicked demon Ravanna. The meaning behind the story is that good overcomes evil. It is a festival of hope. This is the theme of the letter from the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.This letter has been sent out to our Hindu contacts with a letter from Archbishop Conti giving the good wishes of the Catholic Bishops, the Committee for Interreligious Dialogue and the Catholic community in Scotland. Here are the letters.
FROM ARCHBISHOP CONTI:
It gives me great pleasure to send greetings and good wishes to you and all Hindus in Scotland as you celebrate the festival of Diwali. I am also happy to send on to you the annual message from the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue in Rome.
The theme of the message is promoting hope among families. Pope Francis believes that it is in the family that “children learn from the example of their parents and family members, and experience the power of hope in strengthening human relationships.” This will lead them “to be heralds of hope to the world.” This is the key message of the festival you are celebrating at the end of this week. Diwali, the festival of Light, through the telling of the story of Rama and Sita, keeps alive the belief that good will prevail even in the darkest of times.
As you celebrate with your families I pray that your children and young people will take to heart the lessons of Diwali and become beacons of hope in our society. In this we are united with all people of faith and goodwill and as the letter from the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue says, “may we bring hope’s light to every corner of our world, offering consolation and strength to all in need.”
Once again, on behalf of my colleagues the Bishops of Scotland, on my own behalf and on behalf of our Committee for Interreligious Dialogue, I wish you and all Scottish Hindus a joyful festival of Diwali and every blessing in this coming year.
With all good wishes,
+ Mario Conti
Chair of the Committee for Inter Religious Dialogue of the Catholic Church in Scotland
FROM PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR INTERRELIGIOUS DIALOGUE:
Dear Hindu Friends,
1. On behalf of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, we offer our best wishes as you celebrate Deepavali on 30 October 2016. May your celebrations around the world deepen your familial bonds, and bring joy and peace to your homes and communities.
2. The health of society depends on our familial bonds and yet we know that today the very notion of family is being undermined by a climate that relativizes its essential significance and value. So too, family life is often disrupted by harsh realities such as conflicts, poverty and migration, which have become all too commonplace throughout the world. There are, however, strong signs of renewed hope due to the witness of those who hold fervently to the enduring importance of marriage and family life for the wellbeing of each person and society as a whole. With this abiding respect for the family, and keenly aware of the global challenges daily confronting us, we wish to offer a reflection on how we, Christians and Hindus together, can promote hope in families, thus making our society ever more humane.
3. We know that the family is “humanity’s first school” and that parents are the “primary and principal” educators of their children. It is in the family that children, led by the noble example of their parents and elders, are formed in the values that help them develop into good and responsible human beings. Too often, however, the optimism and idealism of our youth are diminished by circumstances that affect families. It is especially important, therefore, that parents, together with the wider community, instil in their children a sense of hope by guiding them towards a better future and the pursuit of the good, even in the face of adversity.
4. Providing a formation and education in hope is thus a task of paramount importance for families (cf. Pope Francis, Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, 274-275), as it reflects the divine nature of mercy which embraces the disheartened and gives them purpose. Such an education in hope encourages the young themselves to reach out, in charity and service, to others in need, and so become a light for those in darkness.
5. Families, therefore, are meant to be a “workshop of hope” (Pope Francis, Address at the Prayer Vigil for the Festival of Families, Philadelphia, 26 September 2015), where children learn from the example of their parents and family members, and experience the power of hope in strengthening human relationships, serving those most forgotten in society and overcoming the injustices of our day. Saint John Paul II said that “the future of humanity passes by way of the family” (Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio, 86). If humanity is to prosper and live in peace, then families must embrace this work of nurturing hope and encouraging their children to be heralds of hope to the world.
6. As Christians and Hindus, may we join all people of good will in supporting marriage and family life, and inspiring families to be schools of hope. May we bring hope’s light to every corner of our world, offering consolation and strength to all in need.
We wish you all a joyful Deepavali!
Jean-Louis Cardinal Tauran
+ Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, MCCJ