What is our role in our world


Volker Kauder underlines the importance of religions in the world and sees in people's beliefs the potential to help solve problems rather than to cause them.

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Volker Kauder

The importance and role of religions in the world

Many people in Germany are turning away from the beliefs of their parents and the religious traditions of their families. In our country, as in most European countries, religion and belief play an increasingly minor role in people's lives and everyday lives. Religious traditions and traditional rules such as the Sunday rest - like the religious character of holidays - lose meaning and binding force. Creeping, but at times also powerfully and with malice, such as the despising of religious symbols and figures, Europe is repressing its religious roots. In many cases the conviction can be heard that religion is a private matter.

Worldwide, however, the trend is in the opposite direction. Religion and belief are and will remain essential and determining factors for a growing majority of humanity and thus shape our time. Projections like “The Future of World Religions” by the Pew Research Center show how the relevance of Western agnosticism will decrease in the coming years. The world is not only religiously bound, the importance of this binding is growing. Especially when in other contexts we say that we have to review our European worldview from time to time in order to better understand the world, this is expressly true in this case.

For many people in the world, the importance of faith for their own life lies in their life practice, in the festivals and traditions, the upbringing of children and the value system in which people move. Sometimes it helps to remember the state of our country 50 years ago - a period that can be bridged well in most families in the memory. Only since then has religion become foreign to us.

This trend applies for better and for worse. While faith and religion can convey spiritual and spiritual home to people all over the world, they also help to emphasize differences and contradictions and to make coexistence more difficult. Memory helps here too - a real problem arose in Germany too when love wanted to bridge denominational boundaries. From today's perspective, the debates, also and precisely because of their seriousness, hardly comprehensible anymore, whether the children should be brought up Catholic or Protestant, seem strangely strange. And yet these differences and contradictions have had a very clear and sometimes even painful effect on biographies.

We have to acknowledge that, especially in our day, the coexistence of religious communities is in itself called into question, even where it has a long tradition. For example, the Middle East, East Africa, South-East Asia, but also the Indian subcontinent are exposed to enormous pressure. Incidentally, Christians in particular are often affected by this discrimination and even persecution, even if there is no religion whose members can live unmolested anywhere.

It is terrifying that many who observe growing interfaith alienation from a secular perspective do not want to see what is going on before their eyes. There are commentators who are of the opinion that religion is only a facade for the material struggles for distribution and social disputes that are actually responsible for the outbreaks of violence. This falls short of my experience, which I was able to confirm on many trips to conflict areas.

Because: Conversely, the fact that religion can play an essential role in mediating peace and balance is not only out of the question. It is a truth that we cannot recall often or clearly enough. As the outgoing Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki Moon, put it in view of developments in the Middle East, religious dignitaries must remember the role of religions as peace donors and mediators and live up to this claim. We must remind them that without religious freedom, without the freedom of religious minorities, the religious freedom of the majority is also at risk. Last but not least, Muslims are by far the largest number of victims of the Islamic State terrorist militia.

In his first encyclical "Evangelii Gaudium" in 2013, Pope Francis emphasized the great importance of interreligious dialogue, which is "a necessary condition for peace in the world and therefore a duty of Christians". He emphasizes that this cannot be achieved through a “conciliatory syncretism”, but can only build on the “clear and happy identity” of the partners.

An interreligious dialogue is not a dialogue between the clergy; besides knowing one's own position, it lives from the fact that it takes place on as many levels as possible. However, it presupposes that you understand yourself and your counterpart as religious people, as believers.

I myself lead this dialogue as a member of the International Panel of Parliamentarians for Freedom of Religion or Belief (IPPFoRB). The CDU / CSU parliamentary group in the German Bundestag hosted this year's meeting of this large association of MPs, which took place in Berlin in September. More than 100 members of parliament from 60 countries were guests in the German capital, all world religions were represented. In the exchange of parliamentarians there was no doubt about the fundamental importance of Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which includes the religious freedom of every individual as a good worth protecting. On the contrary, the representatives of all parties on the political spectrum jointly advocated more religious freedom in states that do not adequately protect this good - such as Iran, Vietnam, Sudan or Eritrea.

This collaboration, which is extensively documented at ippforb.com, shows how interreligious dialogue can lead to shared values ​​and targeted action. I am convinced that we can develop these opportunities precisely when we come together as religious people. The religion, the belief of the people is rarely the problem - but understood it can often help with the solution.

Volker Kauder (1949), grew up in Singen am Hohentwiel, studied law and political science in Freiburg im Breisgau. Since 1990 member of the German Bundestag. Positions as 1st parliamentary managing director of the Union parliamentary group and as general secretary of the CDU. Since 2005 chairman of the CDU / CSU parliamentary group. He is married, Protestant and has been campaigning for religious freedom and Christians in distress for years.

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