Does religion cause all of today’s problems?

Questions on a higher purpose, the necessity of religion, and whether those with faith monopolise morality were just a few talking points at Thursday night’s special Inter Faith Week Epeonian Society meeting. It was held in the Co-op Lecture theatre at 8pm, and ran until 9.30pm.

Les Acklam, the University of Lincoln's chaplain, introduced the film | Photo: Dec Ackroyd
Les Acklam, the University of Lincoln's chaplain, introduced the film. | Photo: Dec Ackroyd

The eighteen people attending, who represented different religious and non-religious beliefs, watched several parts of the award-winning documentary “Beyond Our Differences”, which included the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu as contributors, among others.

The film raised several issues, such as the use of religion for personal agendas and war, and sought to present the “true” meaning of God and faith.

In the discussion that followed, one participant questioned why the Pope, as one person, could dictate to millions of others if faith is meant to be personal. They also questioned the logic behind the Pope’s statement that Africans shouldn’t wear condoms.

A Roman Catholic representative said that the Pope “shouldn’t be taken out of context” and that there are internal disputes surrounding papal opinion. He added that it’s not the case that every Roman Catholic agrees with everything the Pope says.

When concerns were raised over part of the Qur’an which claims non-believers will burn in hell, one Muslim pointed out that we must be careful when reading translated versions of the religious text. It was originally written in Arabic, and so meanings and words can be distorted and changed in translation, either due to language differences or the bias of the translator, she argued.

At the end of the meeting there was a general consensus that the problems with religions don’t lie with faith, but are down to interpretation of religious texts. It was also agreed that fundamentalists, who represent their own agendas, often misrepresent religions and are not representative of people with faith.

Emma Parrish, president of the Epeonian Society, said: “It was an interesting debate and I’m glad that we did it. Even if the turnout was a little disappointing, I’d still say it was a success. [Inter faith relations] are an important issue for society to look at.”

For a list of other events marking Inter Faith Week, click here.

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