Sub-Themes at World Assembly
The 9th World Assembly theme, Welcoming the Other, includes a variety of sub-themes that the Assembly will address in plenary and in panels, discussions that will put in relief the situation of the global interfaith community. One sub-theme is “Welcoming the Other and Democracy and Good Governance.” In this issue of the RFPUSA Connect, we want to offer some pre-assembly reflections on these issues like this one in order to come back to it post-assembly and provide updates on what happened at the Assembly.
Democracy and good governance for the RFP family is a complicated question. For this World Assembly it centers around the focus on tolerance. Tolerance, this time, takes on a different tone than previously. There is robust support for a simple notion of tolerance in all religious traditions – both in law and in social teachings: this is simply a tolerance of basic respect for the “other.” While this Assembly “calls each religious community to robustly advance tolerance,” it also calls each religious community to go beyond tolerance by pro-actively standing in solidarity with the dignity, vulnerability, and well-being of the “other,” with the full force of its respective spiritual and moral teachings.”
Democracy and good governance pivots on this more robust notion of tolerance as a form of life. “Tolerance is the responsibility that upholds human rights, pluralism (including cultural pluralism), democracy and the rule of law.” This issue comes to the fore in a World Assembly that is particularly concerned with the rise in religious violence. The task for this panel is to plumb the wealth of religious traditions and this notion of tolerance in order to offer a constructive way forward for the future of governance and the future of democracy in an increasingly plural religious world.