Sydney: Environmental stewardship, global poverty alleviation and addressing challenges related to materialism and individualism were some of the big priority areas identified by the speakers and participants at the 2022 Abraham Conference held in Sydney on 14 August at Amity College, Auburn.
The inter-religious Abraham Conference is an annual event in Sydney, Australia that brings together Jewish, Christian, and Muslim believers to discuss contemporary topics. The theme for this year was ‘Religion for the 21st Century Recovering faith in Faith’.
Historically, the Abrahamic religions shaped lives and civilizations. In the last century, they are becoming increasingly marginalized, seen as a matter of private devotion and personal morality at best, or divisive and violent at worst.
The recent census shows a decline in the Christian percentage of the Australian population and an increase in those who are not affiliated with a religion, further evidence of the loss of reputation of religions.
But religions remain a powerful social force. With the issues that we face in our globalized, pluralist world, how can we recover faith in Faith
“Our collaboration for this conference dates back to nearly 20 years ago. Since then, we have shared the wisdom of our Spiritual traditions with one another. This humble conference platform also aims to produce some solutions for our society through its distinguished speakers, and audience,” Mr. Polat said.
He further added, “I believe this event reminds us that such insights and commonalities can foster productive conversations between Jewish, Christians, and Muslims. The Abraham Conference is a symbol of unity, knowledge, and peace and is a great platform for spreading love and peace between all people. Today we will discuss the issues that we face in our globalized, pluralist world, and how we can recover faith in Faith.”
Exploring the theme, Geraldine Doogue AO, renowned journalist and radio and television presenter engaged in conversation with John Cleary, veteran ABC broadcaster together with three panelists from the Abrahamic faiths: Rabbi Moshe Givental, North Shore Temple Emanuel; Rev Dr. Rob McFarlane, Presbytery Relations Minister, Uniting Church in Australia; and Associate Professor Salim Farrar, Sydney University Law School.
The moderator of the event John Cleary started the conversation with Geraldine Dooguewith a quote from an American Historian, Will Durant: ‘A certain tension between religion and society marks the highest stages of every civilization. Religion begins by offering magical aid to harassed and bewildered men; it culminates by giving to a people that unity of morals and belief which seems so favorable to statesmanship and art; it ends by fighting suicidally in the lost cause of the past.’
“Institutional religion has been in steady decline in Australia and other countries including the USA since the 1960s. Do you have any observations regarding factors within our traditions that may have contributed to this decline? John posed the question.
One of the highlights of this year’s conference was the small group discussions which allowed participants to chat with people they may not normally get to encounter. Working in diverse teams, participants were asked to identify four priority areas for Abrahamic Traditions as they move forward in a world where some are ‘losing faith in Faith.’
Rev Dr. Patrick McInerny finally presented a summary of the discussion saying, “Our job is not to pass the moral voice to the world but it to convey the prophetic message to all humanity.”
Events such as the Abraham Conference provide a good opportunity to challenge our thinking about the other and recognize that although we have marked differences in beliefs and practices, there are many commonalities too particularly related to local and global issues.
(Courtesy Australian Muslim Times)