The Role of Faith-Based Organizations in Hindering or Helping Transitions to Democracy

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third Assembly
The Role of Faith-Based Organizations in Hindering or Helping Transitions to Democracy

Organizers:
Canon John Nightingale – UK
Diakonia Council of Churches – South Africa

Moderators:
Sue Brittion – South Africa
Saydoon Nisa Sayed – South Africa

Rapporteurs:
Deon Snyman – South Africa
Nathi Mzila – South Africa

Presenters:
Canon John Nightingale – UK
Vo Van Ai – Vietnam
Paddy Meskin – South Africa
Laith Kubba – Iraq

Challenges:

  • Some Faith Based Organizations (FBOs) are involved in the struggle for democracy while other FBOs are supporting undemocratic forces.
  • Some FBOs over-emphasize spiritual issues and don’t focus enough on issues related to social justice (e.g. HIV and AIDS, poverty, peace, reconciliation, and democracy).
  • Some FBOs view the involvement of religious communities in political issues as dangerous.
  • Some governments view organized religion as a threat to government.
  • Most FBOs view state-sponsored FBOs as illegitimate and not able to express the views of religious communities.

Recommendations:

  • Religious values (e.g. tolerance, respect, equality, peace, and love) need to be revived within civic education.
  • FBOs need to be recognized as an integral part of society.
  • FBOs need to share their democratic models with other FBOs in order to develop new and better models.
  • Religious leaders need to be exposed to issues related to human rights and democracy.
  • FBOs are of vital importance within civil society; therefore, one of the plenary sessions of the next Assembly of the World Movement for Democracy should focus on FBOs.
  • Criticism of the actions of people of a certain religion should not be seen as criticism of their religion.
  • Women’s organizations of different FBOs should network with each other to promote equality between the genders, and FBOs should support the promotion of human rights for women.
  • NGOs should be encouraged to develop partnerships with FBOs in the promotion of democracy.
  • Most religious texts represent cultural practices within the timeframe in which the texts were written. Therefore, religious texts need to be reinterpreted to address issues within the current timeframe.