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Dealing with Tough Issues: Creating a Movement toward Social Cohesion and Peace

By Rev. Bud Heckman


Religions for Peace USA (RFPUSA) is an organization founded by religious leaders and their communities on the basis of widely shared and deeply held values, with the express interest of advancing multi-religious cooperation for peace.

This month’s TIO focuses on an issue that RFPUSA does not explicitly address, because there is no compelling shared religious viewpoint on sexuality. 

Two years ago, the Executive Council of Religions for Peace USA decided that three issues stood out as the most pressing and important for RFPUSA's member communities.  Those three were: (1) Islamophobia, (2) Climate Change, and (3) Immigration. It was a strategic decision to devote our resources and energy to the issues that were the most pressing to our members.  We leave the important work on controversial social issues for the debate and advancement by others.

RFPUSA’s mission calls it to: mobilize representatives from religious communities in order to foster peace and justice; promote multi-religious cooperation to enhance mutual understanding; and to act for the common good.  

In this sense, RFPUSA does not devote energy and resources to directly mitigating internal religious conflicts over socially controversial issues, such as human sexuality.

The recent decisions by the Supreme Court regarding the civil and constitutional validity of the Defense of Marriage Act raise to the fore many of the issues of sexuality.  It manifests as largely a social, cultural, and political issue, rather than essentially an issue of faith and religion. 

Training and building up religious leaders who create a more just and equitable society is at the heart of RFPUSA’s mission.  Equipping them to hold in dialogue those with whom they may have radical differences on some issues, while advancing others where they have common interests, helps build trust, understanding, and social cohesion.

RFPUSA’s participation in The Interfaith Observer with its own tailored edition provides a platform in which Religions for Peace’s particular foci are in conversation with and seen in the context of a larger panoply of concerns of the interfaith relations movement.