Over the centuries, religious misconceptions have been responsible for the sufferings of untold millions of people. In the book of Esther in the Jewish Torah or Christian Old Testament, Persian Haman tried exterminating the entire Jewish population in Persia, modern day Iran. Fast forward to recent history, Adolf Hitler exterminated over 6 million Jews during the Second World War.
Today, Islamic State and other Muslim fundamentalist groups like Boko Haram and Al Shabab are killing and maiming thousands of people, all because of religious misconceptions. It is a serious problem when one’s faith or religion does not know or understand anything about how others function, but yet takes pride in castigating them.
Known as “religious misconception or misreading,” which is slowing creeping into the Liberian society, the outlook has the potential to roll back the progress Liberia has made in its efforts to be a society at peace with itself. This is the contention of Global Youth for Sustainable Peace and Development’s (GYUSPD) executive director Mohammed V. Kamara.
Mr. Kamara spoke over the weekend in Sinkor at a program organized by GYUSPD in collaboration with the Rainbow Intercultural Dialogue Center (RIDC) under the theme, “Know My Faith, I Know Your Faith.”
He said religious misconception remains a major threat to peace and development in Liberia, adding that his organization has realized that misconceptions about one religious and ethnic group are causing serious problems in the country and the world at large, including the recent impasse over labeling Liberia a Christian nation.
“We need to stop discussing the form of worship of one another’s religion. Stop describing each other’s religion as trouble makers or people that are always engaged in conflicts. We can respect each other’s religion and live in harmony for the good of Liberia,” he said.
Kamara called on people who are in the habit of forming misconceptions about others, especially young people, to desist and work together for the growth and development of Liberia.
“This is a serious problem to the peace and tranquility of mankind. We all need to work together to ensure Liberia is free from such religious misconceptions,” Kamara said.
He said his entity has decided to undertake an initiative to create a platform that will help eliminate some of the many misconceptions of other religions and have them clarified so as to provide the enabling environment that suits the people, especially the perpetrators, irrespective of their background or religion.
The program brought together panelists from various religious backgrounds to collaborate and spread the core values and essence of Islam, Christianity, Rastafarianism and other religious minorities for the sustenance of peace and development in Liberia.
Present at the occasion were Cllr. Alihadji Swaliho A. Sesay, Rev. Anita M. Elliot, Luther Jeke and Ms. Dulfy, among others.
The panelists said they want the dialogue to continue and include the youth as a means to ending religious misconceptions in Liberia.
Cllr. Alihadji Swaliho A. Sesay said the Quran talks about respecting other people’s religion, adding, “Unfortunately, people hold different views of each other’s religion, especially in Liberia.”
“We need to understand that we can worship the same God differently and still live in harmony and not have ugly perceptions about each other; whether a Muslim or a Christian, we need to respect each.”
Rev. Anita M. Elliot said Christians are required to respect other forms of worship as their goal is to serve Almighty God.
“As a Christian,” she said, “we are moved by faith in everything, but not to criticize others about their forms of worship.”
She said Christians are tasked with the responsibility to embrace everyone and not discriminate.