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Global theologians' forum opposes 'colonialization’ of Palestine

Theologians' forum, which met in Kathmandu, Nepal, discussed religion and politics from the perspectives of liberation and care
Members of the World Forum of Theology and Liberation (WFTL) pose for a photograph after their annual gathering in Nepal's capital Kathmandu Feb. 13-18.

Members of the World Forum of Theology and Liberation (WFTL) pose for a photograph after their annual gathering in Nepal's capital Kathmandu Feb. 13-18. (Photo: supplied)

Published: February 21, 2024 09:56 AM GMT
Updated: February 21, 2024 12:06 PM GMT

An ecumenical group of 30 theologians representing the World Forum of Theology and Liberation (WFTL) has asked to end the ‘Zionist reading of the Bible’ in justifying the Israeli ‘colonization’ of Palestine.

The theologians' forum that met in Nepal's capital Kathmandu Feb. 13-18 also denounced the nexus between politics and religion and the increasing religious nationalism in different parts of the world.

The forum met parallel to the World Social Forum (WSF) that gathered in Kathmandu from Feb. 15 to 19. The WSF brought together representatives of social movements worldwide, expressing aspirations for a better world.

The forum of theologians started in 2005 has been a space for convergence, encounter, and exchange with theologies and theologians worldwide who commit themselves to the principle of liberation in their personal, regional, and international contexts, claims its website.

In this year’s meeting, the theologians discussed religion and politics from the perspectives of liberation and care as their theme.

A special focus of this meeting was on “the interplay between politics and religion in the context of growing religious nationalism, particularly in the Asian continent,” said Indian theologian Kochurani Abraham, who participated in the event.

They also discussed the issues of indigenous Christians who continue to be suppressed by the ecclesial system that functions in a colonial manner in many parts of the world, the woman theologian said.

Two prominent Palestinian liberation theologians -- Mitri Raheb and Varsen Aghabekian – helped both the World Social Forum and the gathering of theologians to discuss the realities of the Palestinian people.

“We oppose a Zionist reading of the Bible utilized as software in justifying the Israeli settler colonization of Palestine, which has been going on for decades and producing the current and inhuman genocide of Palestine in Gaza,” the final statement of the theologians’ forum said.

“In a liberation perspective, we take Gaza as a theological hermeneutic, a turning point that will leave a mark on the articulation of the knowledge of God and its implication for life today,” they said.

The theologians' forum also affirmed “the right of the indigenous people across the globe to express their faith and religious practices autonomously, using their socio-cultural traditions and belief systems.”

They condemned “the colonial impositions of the Christian churches worldwide that have destroyed the spiritual agency of the indigenous people.” Their statement also expressed “solidarity with the resistance of indigenous people in asserting and reclaiming their indigenous and Christian identity.”

The theologians' forum also denounced “the unholy nexus between politics and religion” that paves the way for religious nationalism in the different parts of the world. Their statement also wanted nations to honor the diversities of religions and cultures, and different expressions of democracy “that should mark the social fabric of any given society.”

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