Religious Literacy to Promote Human Dignity in a Multi-faith Society

Event | November 2023

In commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the Ministry of Law and Human Rights of the Republic of Indonesia together with the Leimena Institute hosted the International Conference on Cross-Cultural Religious Literacy in Jakarta, Indonesia from November 13-14, 2023. The conference provided an opportunity to discuss how human dignity serves as the foundational principle not only of human rights, but also of citizen engagement in promoting a peaceful and inclusive society based on the rule of law.

This year’s theme of the conference, “Human Dignity And Rule of Law For A Peaceful And Inclusive Society,” reflects upon the UDHR and the Charter of the United Nation’s meaning and implications of human dignity in a multipolar world. Peacemakers Network’s Executive Director, Dr. Mohamed Elsanousi, spoke on religious literacy as a mechanism to promote human dignity,

“This conference is not intended to be a celebration, but rather an opportunity for global actors to commiserate over the current conflicts, and simultaneously be inspired by the often-unsung work that religious and traditional actors do everyday to support peaceful and inclusive societies.”

Top photo from left to right: Prof. Dr. M. Amin Abdullah, H.E. David Saperstein, Prof. Madya Dr. Mohamed Azam Mohamed Adil, Dr. Mohamed Elsanousi, Prof. Dr. Inayah Rohmaniyah. Photo by Institut Leimena on Twitter.

Emphasizing the Peacemakers Network’s mission, Dr. Elsanousi highlighted four critical areas to further bolster the role of religious actors in supporting interfaith harmony through religious literacy:

1. The need to strengthen our own religious literacy as well as that of other religions. To promote human dignity and foster mutual understanding of multi faith societies, it is crucial to be literate in one’s own religion as well as have a baseline understanding of others.

2. The need to recognize the importance of contextualizing theology. Religion does not compromise its fundamentals when scriptures are adapted to local contexts. Thus, contextual theology has a great opportunity to enhance the text to best serve people of faith in contemporary society and support sustainable peace and social cohesion.

3. Recognizing and understanding that freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) is the foundation for prevention of violence and prosperity. Many regions around the world have a rich history in ethnic and religious pluralism therefore, we need to support locally owned FoRB initiatives to reduce levels of religious persecution, bias and discrimination towards minority communities. The Peacemakers Network is currently implementing a 5-year Dutch-funded program, the Joint Initiative for Strategic Religious Action (JISRA), a project committed to advancing peaceful and just societies where all can enjoy freedom of religion or belief, alongside consortia members Mensen Meteen Missie, Tearfund, Search for Common Ground, and Faith for Action.

4. The need to support educational opportunities to advance the religious literacy of women and youth. To promote this, the Peacemakers Network and the Berghof Foundation recently concluded case studies on women faith-based mediators who have conducted successful mediation efforts within their communities and between extremist groups through the incorporation of religious teachings.

Drawing on experiences from the Peacemakers Network’s initiatives, Dr. Elsanousi underlined the Network’s continuation to work and engage with religious and traditional actors, specifically to increase religious literacy of women and youth and the capacity to meaningfully engage in interreligious dialogue to ensure effective community engagement and initiatives at the grassroots level.

Follow the Network on social