After learning more about other religions and recognizing the differences, a group of young people in the predominantly Muslim province of West Sumatra say they are committed to improving tolerance. Thirty-five young Buddhists, Catholics, Hindus, Muslims and Protestants believe this is an important mission after attending an interfaith forum called: “Recognizing the Difference – Improving Tolerance – Creating Peace” on March 26-27 in Padang, the provincial capital. Padang diocese’s Commission for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs organized the event – the first of its kind in the area – which was also attended by lecturers and students from the Imam Bonjol State Islamic Institute. During the two-day program, the young people learned about the teachings and rituals of each religion. “Not knowing the teachings of other religions can lead to misunderstandings and wrong perceptions,” said Ahmad Fauzi, a Muslim. He said events such as this are good ways to counter religious fanaticism. “I learned many things from this program. This sort of thing is unavailable in the institute where I am studying now,” he said. Anastasia Rilend, a participant from St. Francis of Assisi Church in Padangbaru, agreed. “Each religion teaches its followers how to be tolerant and maintain good relations with others,” she said. During a speech, the commission’s head, Father Philips Rusihan Sakti, said he often found inspiration from other religions. “I think noble values in other religions, which can provide inspiration, can be models for our lives. But we must still hold on to our own religious teachings,” he said. The diocese’s vicar general also expressed hope that the youths will not only show tolerance with other religious teachings but also unite to solve social problems. “In order to do this, you need to get to know each other well and without any prejudice,” he told them. IJ13782.1647
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