DURING this holiday season, when we are spreading the message of goodwill to all men, St Andrews Chruch in Zadoc Street, has played host to a public conversation between Christian and Islamic leaders.
The forum was organised by the Northern Rivers peace group 'Remembering and Healing'(RaH) to focus on social inclusion amongst all faiths in our community.
Headlined as 'Mainstream meets Margin' the exchange was represented by Anglican Bishop Sarah Macneil, and the Muslim scholar, Dr Zuleyha Keskin and moderated by Dr Leticia Anderson of Southern Cross University.
According to Mr RJ Poole who attended the forum, the main points made during the discussion emphasised the similarities between Christianity and Islam.
He said both belief systems come from the same region of the world and acknowledge key characters like Moses and Jesus.
"Both share a common cultural tradition,” he said.
"The differences between the two centre mostly around their view of God, with the Christian view embracing a transcendent entity that assumed a human form in Jesus and lived amongst us - whereas Islam viewed Jesus as another prophet.”
Mention was made of how religion generally was criticised for starting conflicts or creating differences in society but the discussion highlighted that these differences are a product of economic, political or gender inequalities, he said.
"The speakers spoke about how religion is only exploited by some as a rallying point to differentiate the 'other' or characterise an enemy in simple terms to build support for a cause,” he said.
Passages from religious texts can be taken out of context and exploited to justify any action or opinion- yet the underlying message of both religions is one of love and peace towards all others.
Also, strategies and challenges for practising faith and working in diverse religious and non religious contexts was also given an opportunity to be explored.
The afternoon ended with refreshments, which included Moroccan and Aussie biscuits, mint tea and Aussie tea & coffee.
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