Do not use politics to force views on others: Archbishop of Canterbury

Politicians are hijacking religion for their own purposes. This was the general opinion of religious leaders who participated in the dialogue-meeting hosted by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams at the Ecumenical Christian Centre here on Wednesday.

“Do not use politics to enforce views on others. A proper democracy and religious freedom go hand in hand,” the Archbishop said during the public discussion held after the private dialogue with Hindu leaders representing various schools of thought.

Reinforcing the view that a dialogue does not mean dilution of one's views, he said dialogue must be undertaken in the spirit of respect for others, not with the intention of putting an end to diversity and bringing about uniformity but introducing understanding.

Rev. Williams said divisiveness was fracturing the image of God. “One of the main dividing factors within religion is the dispute of authority. In the modern era, especially in the West, authority is not a natural concept,” he said, adding that no one was a master of his or her own situation. “We are responsible to God for how we live.”

Speaking on multi-religious societies, Rev. Williams said there was a code of conduct drawn up applying to the United Kingdom where religions were expected to stand by each other if one was under attack.

Meanwhile, Hindu religious leaders too echoed the need for finding oneness. Taking exception to the perception that religion was the root of all problems, Taralabalu Jagadguru Shivamurthy Shivacharya Mahaswami said the problem arises when religious leaders try promoting concepts like private undertakings.

“We religious leaders need to mend our actions and teachings to bring unity,” he said.

Sugunendra Tirtha Swamiji of Puttige Math in Udupi said religion could be a binding force if the tenets of the Bhagavad Gita, according to which people should regard each other as places of worship, were followed. By this they will start respecting one another, he said.

Peaceful co-existence

Tridandi Srimannarayana Ramanuja Chinna Jeeyar Swami of the Jeeyar Educational Trust, Hyderabad, reiterated the importance of peaceful co-existence of religions like “the co-existence of different parts of the body.” He said no government should endorse any religion.