Malaysia achieved its independence in August 1957. The country is made up of people of different ethnicities and religions. Despite six decades of independence, dislike and distrust are prevalent among the races.
Though the problem may be deeply rooted, Our Mother of Perpetual Help (OMPH) Church, Ipoh organised a colloquium titled, “Interfaith Christmas Fellowship Lunch” with the assistance of the Diocese of Penang, the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes and St Michael’s Church Ipoh. The objective was to inculcate better understanding between races and religions.
The one-day event was held on Sunday, January 7 at OMPH. In attendance were Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and members of non-governmental organisations.
“We can live in a harmonious environment and talk about issues, sports and anything else while respecting our different beliefs. This is the first time this church is conducting such an event. I am pleased with the turnout,” Reverend Joe Stephen told the media.
According to Reverend Joe, the church organised a similar event two years ago where speakers from different religions spoke about their religions and their practices. This gave others an insight into each other’s belief.
Shazni Bhai Rashid, 29, a social worker shared his views about Islam. Instead of talking about the differences he spoke about the similarities.
“If I talk about differences it’ll cause misunderstanding. If there are differences between sects and denominations what more between religions? We can talk about whether Jesus is the son of God or the son of man, who gets to go to heaven or hell, which religion practises caste system, which is the oldest religion, will there be a judgement day or will there be reincarnation and so on. Why don’t we talk about something more relevant? For example, the condition of our environment,” said Bhai.
“It’s upsetting to hear news about houses of worship being destroyed and petitions made against other religions. I hope everybody will make a concerted effort to look at everyone, not just their religion but the characteristics that define the individual,” added Reverend Joe.
The church is planning a peace walk in August this year. Watch this space. We will update readers about this upcoming event.