On 7-8th May, 2018 the European Council of Religious Leaders (ECRL) came together in the beautiful and historic city of Budapest to explore the important theme of ‘Multi-religious Collaboration on Community Cohesion and Human Security’.
The ECRL meeting brought together senior religious leaders from Judaism, Christianity and Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism and Zoroastrianism. A symposium explored how religion might support and enhance efforts to break down negative stereotypes, create unanimity where deep division currently exists, and contributing to safe, peaceful and cohesive societies and communities in Europe today.
The changing political, social and demographic dynamics in contemporary Europe present some of the biggest challenges for a generation to European citizens, communities and governments. As the most representative body of religious leaders in Europe the ECRL issued a common statement, calling on communities, religious and political leaders across Europe.
The Budapest Statement asks to “realise and recognise the humanity and dignity of every single individual regardless of their origin or background, and to work tirelessly together to overcome all forms of prejudice and discrimination”. “Fear, hatred and division are typically based on false negative stereotypes”, the statement continues.
“The overwhelming majority of religious people across Europe and the world strongly reject and condemn all forms of violence, persecution and hate speech”, the ECRL emphasizes. It is therefore necessary to “challenge negative popular and political discourse which confuses religious identity and human security”.
History clearly shows “that a society or politics based on fear can only lead to greater anxiety, communal tensions, and anguish”, the statement points out. “A society or religion that is afraid of change is one that cannot be secure and confident in its own identity.”
“As a Council drawn from diverse religious traditions and beliefs, our work as a multi-religious Council is based on the firm belief that the values, beliefs and hopes that bring us together are far greater and more powerful than the differences that distinguish us”, the statement closes.
The European Council of Religious Leaders (ECRL) brings together senior religious leaders from Europe’s historical religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam together with Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs and Zoroastrians. ECRL is one of five regional Interreligious Councils within the Religions for Peace global network. Religions for Peace – accredited to the United Nations – is the world’s largest and most representative multi-religious coalition advancing common action for peace since 1970.