Interfaith Peacebuilding


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Interfaith Programs

Stockholm Interfaith Forum: The Role of Religion in Society

Stockholm, Sweden - UPF-Sweden held a forum on "The Role of Religion and Spirituality in Society, Today and Tomorrow" on June 29, 2014, at the Stocksundstorps gård, a historic house that hosts art presentations, musical events and talks about values and life. Fifteen people from various backgrounds attended.
The discussion was introduced with a 20-minute presentation that reflected on the need for interfaith dialogue from individual, religious and social perspectives. The problem in Sweden has been that for many years Christianity has become increasingly marginalized in society. This means that materialistic values and perspectives are in the forefront of the public agenda. Religious people had established schools with a spiritual understanding about education. Today, education is simply about how to get a job
because life is about making money. This has led to a short-sighted and a materialistic view, which in turn led to people living a hedonistic-orientated lifestyle. This development is increasingly spreading all over the western world.
Also, religious representatives have viewed religion in a doctrinaire way instead of cultivating faith and spiritual sensitivity. Thus, one could argue that religious representatives themselves have made the religious agenda less relevant for today’s society. The paradox is that when the religious perspective is adapted to a more “modern” perspective, it becomes less relevant and has nothing to offer.
So the question remains, is there a deeper spiritual way of life that transcends all religious and maybe also philosophical traditions? The challenge is to address these questions in ways that that stimulate people to open their minds and see beyond their own concepts. This is a challenge, because people have such a superficial understanding of religion.
The learning experience from the meeting is that with words one can only convey so much. Most important is the emotional experience people have when sharing about issues that have the possibility to give a transcendent experience and insight about how to live a meaningful life. After all, this is what religion and maybe all education is about.

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