When Religion Can Work

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Over 11,000 people have died from Ebola in West Africa.  In Sierra Leone, Muslims and Christians are working together to educate people.

As I saw during my long experience as an Inter-religious Chaplain, interfaith cooperation can be a step in the right direction–toward an understanding that the common ground is our humanity, not religion.

A man named Amadu survived the virus and felt it was due to prayer AND education AND cooperation between churches and mosques.

“We are all serving one God, at the end of the day,” he said. “We are all doing service for the same God. We are unified. Religion doesn’t matter.”

Ramadan Jalloh, the chief imam of the Jam’iyatul Haq Mosque in the eastern part of Freetown, which has held Ebola prevention talks, said stories such as Amadu’s show that “Sierra Leone has a clear understanding of what religion really is — that religion is not there to create problems between people but instead to bring people together.”

He explained that this trust and religious tolerance in Sierra Leone, which is about 78 percent Muslim and 21 percent Christian, enabled faith leaders to help stem the spread of Ebola.

As a Secular person I find this hopeful, partly because I’ve seen this kind of cooperation in action for years.  People who get a broader view, a wiser view, and take action.

Once the next step is taken, the step I’ve taken, beyond the holy books and prayers, the healthiest work remains:  to bring people together across all borders of mind and body to learn more and do more. . . to do what must be done in our communities, our countries and our common world.

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