Bishop from Holy Land appeals for humanity from people of faith
HANCOCK — “How can you live with other faiths today in such a world where we are living today?” asked Bishop Munib Younan of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land.
Speaking at Finlandia University on Monday on the relationship between Islam, Judaism and Christianity, the Palestinian Christian leader had a simple solution: Focus on the core teaching the three have in common — tenants of loving God and loving your neighbor.
Munib attributed many of the conflicts to a disregard of the humanity of people practicing a different religion.
Working with other religious leaders in the Holy Land, he was a founder of the Council of Religious Institutions in the Holy Land (CRIHL) in 2005. The organization focuses on responses to damages to holy sites and teaching young people about the perspectives of the other religions. It found religions were one-sided in the texts students were learning from.
“Is religion part of the problem, or can it be part of the solution in today’s conflict?” he asked.
Munib feels religious extremism is a perversion.
“Today there are many groups trying to politicize religion or religion-ize politics. Religion is thus being used or manipulated to justify violence and injustice,” he said.
This can be particularly dangerous, he said.
“Because religions guide human reflection on eternal principles and values, it can provide a strong motivation when mixed with totalitarian political extremism,” Munib said. “To a person guided by such religiously motivated political extremism. Compromise is not an option.”
Munib describes a growing extremism in the holy land not unique to one religion, saying there has been increasing Jewish extremism in response to Islamic extremists. He also pointed to Christian extremists that, while not as apparent, promote war on religious grounds.
“All of these forms of extremism drive us from relationship with one another, harming our shared capacity to create a sustainable future,” Munib said.
To combat this, he stressed the role of moderates speaking up and working towards peace.
Munib sees a two-state solution as the way to a peaceful future with a shared Jerusalem.
However, Munib’s fellow Palestinian Christians are leaving the region due to the instability and the growing extremism, which some religious and political leaders in the region see as a terrible loss of a peacemaking force.
Now around 3 percent of the total population remains of the religious group, though its influence is still strongly felt, Munib said.