9th Annual Institute for Religious Tolerance, Peace and Justice March

LOS ANGELES, Calif., Jun 19, 2024 (SEND2PRESS NEWSWIRE) — Muslims, Christians, Jews, Sikhs, Buddhists, Scientologists, and members of other faiths and beliefs or none affirmed their commitment to interfaith dialogue in June at the 9th Annual Interfaith Solidarity March in Los Angeles. The driving force behind the march and the movement is Dr. Arik Greenberg, founder and president of the Institute for Religious Tolerance, Peace and Justice (IRTPJ), which sponsors the annual activity. Rev. Olivia McDuff of the Church of Scientology International, who served as master of ceremonies, acknowledged Dr. Greenburg for his commitment to bringing the Los Angeles interfaith community together in the name of freedom of worship or belief while rejecting all efforts to foment conflict and hatred among faiths.

Marchers gathered at St. Basil Catholic for a rally before taking off down Wilshire Blvd. to promote their cause. “Step outside your comfort zone,” was the challenge delivered by IRTPJ board member Mohammed Khan. He urged those marching to seek out and walk with someone they didn’t already know – someone of another faith than their own – and to learn something about that person and from that person: What they are concerned about, what is important to them. That is the best way to break down walls and gain understanding, he said.

As in other marches, a megaphone-wielding leader urged those participating to shout slogans. But in this march, the message was one of uniting, not protest, with the purpose of encouraging all Angelenos to work together for peace.

Understanding among diverse communities is particularly important when there are false narratives in circulation. Aziza Hasan, Executive Director of New Ground: A Muslim-Jewish Partnership for Change, spoke of just how insidious false information can be. She shared her story of the intense backlash she and other Muslims experienced after the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

“As Americans and Muslims, we were upset and grieving along with everyone else,” she said, but because of their faith and ethnicity, Muslims became the target. She described how her interfaith colleagues “made a human chain around us…they were there for us when it mattered.” They demanded people treat Muslim Americans with respect. The support she received from people of various faiths bolstered her and affirmed the importance of the interfaith movement.

At the end of the march, Father Alexei Smith, Ecumenical and Interreligious Officer of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles, moderated a panel discussion on the crisis in Gaza and Israel.

Fr. Smith explained why he is not working for “tolerance.” Tolerance implies putting up with someone or something. “We’re certainly much beyond merely putting up with other religions,” he said “and we should allow ourselves to be open to other faiths. Allow them to nurture us as we nurture and encourage them.”

Although no consensus was reached with the panel discussion, Fr. Smith was not discouraged. “We don’t always agree. But we must not let our disagreements prevent us from working together for the greater good,” he said.

The Los Angeles Interfaith March for Peace and Justice coalition is the largest coalition of interfaith marches in the world. The Institute for Religious Tolerance, Peace, and Justice serves as the coalition’s international lead. Dr. Greenburg’s mission for the march is “to promote religious tolerance, interfaith dialogue, and education about religions of the world as a pathway to world peace.”

That message may be more relevant today than ever before.

From its beginnings, the Church of Scientology has recognized that freedom of religion is a fundamental human right. In a world where conflicts are often traceable to intolerance of others’ religious beliefs and practices, the Church has, for more than 70 years, made the preservation of religious liberty an overriding concern.

The Church publishes its religious freedom blog to help create a better understanding of the freedom of religion and belief and provide news on religious freedom and issues affecting this freedom around the world.

The Founder of the Scientology religion is L. Ron Hubbard and Mr. David Miscavige is the religion’s ecclesiastical leader.

For more information, visit the Scientology website or Scientology Network.



News Source: Church of Scientology International

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