Darien discusses religion and its role in today's world
Religion can be a touchy subject, and that was the focal point for a discussion between a group of religious leaders at the First Congregational Church of Darien May 12.
The panel for the interfaith discussion consisted of the Rev. Dr. Don Longbottom, Father Richard Cipolla, Assistant Rabbi Brian Leiken, Imam Kareem Adeeb and lecturer and author Suresh Shenoy. The discussion kicked off with a question about how each group views other religions.
Longbottom said his religion sees all religions as one, but he said his particular faith does not claim to have a monopoly on Christ. Adeeb said because his religion, Islam, is one of the younger religions amongst the group of panelists, the biggest issue with any religion is the ability to find a mind that can translate the text.
"It is not up to us to go after non-believers. We understand God created the world with a lot of diversity," Adeeb said. "Everybody is a brother."
Cipolla said the Catholic Church views tradition differently because its traditions have been passed down over a 2,000 year period.
"Tradition is not something that's just in a book," Cipolla said. "Talking about tradition can be somewhat problematic."
When talking about Judaism in terms of its traditions, Leiken said it can be somewhat difficult because the religion is filled with as many arguments as it is agreements.
"There is a spark of divinity in all of us. It has tremendous merit when you see something that inspires you," Leiken said.
Leiken also addressed an issue he saw with Judaism. He said many Jews spend their time doing things that would benefit just them.
More recently, Leiken said Jewish organizations have begun to form which focus on helping people around the world.
Shenoy concluded the discussion on how different religions view each other by addressing the fact Hindu accepts all religions; nothing is rejected.
"Everybody achieves salvation in the way they believe," Shenoy said.
The panel also discussed media's role in how different religions are perceived, with a specific focus on how Judaism and Islam have interacted.
Leiken said one of the issues is the attention the media focuses on any violent outbreaks instead of focusing on the more positive efforts being made to improve relations between the two religions.
The discussion concluded with a few final thoughts the role secularism will play into religion in the future. All of the panelists, with the exception of Cipolla, felt secularism was an appropriate avenue for people to take and it wasn't up to their individual beliefs to go after non-believers. Cipolla felt more strongly about the topic and felt secularism was a threat to his faith.