Religious leaders shed colonial legacy

Published April 1, 2006

Porto Alegre, Brazil
From Asia and Africa to the United States and Latin America, church leaders are doing away with what has been called the “colonial legacy” to convert other people to Christianity. Instead they are evolving new forms of inter-faith dialogue they hope will help promote world peace and harmony.

“As we preach about inter-faith dialogue, our guiding motto is ‘to be Asian is to be inter-religious’ because Asia is very pluralistic,” said Hope Antone of the Christian Conference of Asia. She was speaking at a side meeting during the February assembly of the World Council of Churches (WCC) held here.

“But we have to deal first with our own personal prejudices because we have to check on our desire to ‘convert’ others, a tendency which is part of our colonial legacy,” she said. As head of the Asian Christian conference’s faith, mission and unity desk, Ms. Antone related that she and her staff also have to study the Qur’an and other scriptures “because these are all part of the Asian heritage.”

She said her organization’s inter-faith educators also discuss together with Muslims and followers of other faiths “common issues that affect our faith life” such as the negative impact of market-oriented globalization and the war on terrorism.

“On gender and justice, we also talk about how some aspects of our religions are oppressive to women,” Ms. Antone said. “But at the same time we lift up the liberating aspects of our religions.”


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