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Interfaith Harmony Week Conference in Brno

Brno, Czech Republic - Based on the success of the World Interfaith Harmony Week conference in Prague in February 2012, UPF-Brno was inspired to convene a similar conference in their city on March 16. The conference was well prepared with good and high-level speakers. Four religions were represented.

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In the opening remarks, Ing. Petr Samochin, chairman of UPF-Brno, introduced World Interfaith Harmony Week and emphasized the importance of interreligious dialogue, especially in these times of instability, fear, and conflicts. In his short video presentation he showed a variety of interreligious activities.

The first speaker, Rev. Jan Hradil, Th.D., bishop of the Czechoslovak Hussite Church, addressed the topic of the conference by stating that the worst evil is war. In history, the word "peace" has been often misused, he said, and under the pretext of creating peace people have made war. The Ten Commandments are the basic principles for each Christian to follow. The 15th-century Czech reformer Jan Hus tried to reform the church in his days, but finally he was burned at stake. Dr. Hradil said that the basic principles of the Hussites are freedom of conscience and respect for the rights of others. He mentioned that a couple of days earlier he had hosted a similar UPF event in his church in Slovakia.

The next speaker was Prof. Dušan Lužný, a sociologist and professor of religion. He said that as a sociologist he approaches interreligious dialogue from a different perspective, from the perspective of a non-believer. He mentioned that there is no contradiction between being a scientist and a believer. Interreligious dialogue is very important and useful, and religious people can cooperate and solve conflicts. The number of religious people in the Czech Republic is decreasing, he said, in part because of the absence of religious education in the families. An appreciation of religion and interfaith dialogue should start from childhood, because the influence of the family decreases as children become older.

Mr. Roman Wenzel, a representative of Buddhism, summarized the basic principles of the Buddha's teaching and said he welcomes interfaith dialogue as a way to create a peaceful world.

The next speaker, Dr. Muneed Hassan Alrawi, chairman of the Muslim communities in the Czech Republic, said that peace is a spiritual value, not a political one. Peace requires God, who is the Creator of all of us. Without vertical peace there is no peace at all. Many people think that wars are caused by religion, but he said this was wrong. People should not refuse any invitation to related to other religious people in the name of peace because there is only one God. He said that the biggest enemy of Muslims is their own ignorance.

Mr. Gad Vojkůvka from the Mormon church introduced the basic teachings of Joseph Smith, the founder of their church. He said that people have the opportunity to do good deeds, which is very important in the life of faith. Everybody can be useful for God according to his or her understanding of truth.

The next speaker was Mrs. Andrea Rozkošná, representing Hinduism. She explained that Hinduism is a religion of tolerance and is the oldest religion in the world. Mahatma Gandhi taught that people first need peace within themselves and then they can bring peace to the world. The only way to create peace is through tolerance and forgiveness, she said. Mercy is the root of each religion. Forgiveness should dwell in people's hearts.

The final speaker was Rev. Světluše Košíčková, Th.D., minister of the Czechoslovak Hussite Church in Brno. She said that there is a lot of evil in the world which only God's love can overcome. Christians should dwell in and embody God's love. Jesus never stopped loving people with God's love, and the New Testament says that whoever does not love does not know God. Religions should contribute to the building of a peaceful world.

The conference was attended by more than 20 people. It showed very clearly how important interfaith dialogue is. The participants welcomed this kind of activity and would like to meet again.

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