Confronting Hate through Scripture
What is the source of today’s hate rhetoric and violence, now so commonplace worldwide that in many cases it doesn’t even make front-page news?
We see persecution and murder of Christians in South and East Asia, as well as in Africa; ethnic cleansing in Myanmar, resulting in wholesale rape and thousands homeless; attacks and murders in Jewish sites in Pennsylvania, California and New Jersey; hate rhetoric daily on the internet, scribbled on walls and flung at people walking in the street.
Surprisingly, much of it originates in our Scriptures themselves, which have been decontextualized, distorted, misinterpreted, and even blatantly mistranslated, and then used to target “the other” for villainous purposes. The CIU’s newest program, Scriptural Resources for Peace confronts this problem head on.
This May, local Muslim, Christian, and Jewish leaders and scholars will gather at Southern Methodist University in Dallas to implement the CIU’s Scriptural Resources for Peace© (SRP). They will identify offensive passages in their own traditions that have been interpreted to condone, and even encourage discrimination of the “other,” oftentimes leading to violence, rape, and even murder.
Once participants have identified tripwire passages, they will then reinterpret and contextualize these writings in harmony with the highest and most ethical tenets of their respective religions.
“The strength of this program is the authority of each community’s religious leaders to elevate its interpretations and delegitimize those of radical sects,” CIU Director Rabbi Jack Bemporad explained.
He also noted that, “As well as the groundbreaking reinterpretation of potentially incite-provoking passages, what sets SRP apart from other discussions on interreligious discord is the focus on transmitting these findings to local communities, where their own religious leaders will be imparting the new interpretations to their congregants. It is a multi-pronged program, incorporating outreach as well as education.”
Longtime friend of the CIU, Marzuq Jaami of the DeSoto Mosque in Dallas, is managing communication and logistics of the Dallas event and will be meeting in Dallas with Rabbi Bemporad and CIU Program Director Jonnie Sofer in late January. The CIU team will also be finalizing details with the local participants.
For more information, or to bring SRP to your city, please contact CIU Director at Jackbemporad@CIUnow.org or call 201-233-5076.