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Overcoming religious prejudice

By Tony Halchak , Citizens' Voice Correspondent 09/15/2003

Yuh-hai Wang and Hui-Lieu Chen are new to the area and both were looking for new friends that shared their Buddhist faith traditions

What they found was a group of individuals that not only wanted to learn about the Buddhist tradition, they were thirsting to understand all faith traditions.

Two years after the World Trade Center attacks, the Inter Faith Council and Community of Inter Faith Action (CIFA) held a discussion group on Sunday in the Wilkes campus Student Ballroom, hoping that understanding is the key to preventing another tragedy.

"This world has become a smaller world," Wang said. "The more we know each other, the more we can live in harmony."

Wang was among about 30 individuals that attended the discussion group. The event was moderated by the Rev. Dr. Bob Zanicky of First Presbyterian Church, Wilkes-Barre.

Rev. Zanicky said the discussion group was the second of a two-part, planned event. According to Rev. Zanicky, two events were "plans-in-progress," which would be used to determine the direction of further events.

"We would love to see more and more churches get involved," he said.

Rev. Zanicky said unity between more faith traditions would erase much of the resentment that many religious groups carry.

"Religion remains a very powerful force in this world," he said. "The more trust that there is, the more understanding will unite."

Representatives from various faiths, including Christian, Jewish, Islamic, Hindu, Buddhist, and the Baha'i faith, shared information on Sunday.

David Jenkins, president of the Inter Faith Council, represented the Baha'i faith. This particular faith tradition urges followers to "consort with the followers of all religions in a spirit of friendliness and fellowship."

Jenkins was quite pleased with Sunday's results.

"There is a good turnout of people really trying to find some answers," Jenkins commented.

According to Jenkins, unity is not even an issue when the groups get together.

"We're not even striving to get along," he said. "We just do."

Wang believes whole-heartedly in the importance of other faith traditions.

"We like to keep an open mind to everything," Wang stated. "Once we understand each other we have the chance to learn from each other."

For more information on the Inter Faith Council and upcoming discussion groups, contact Jenkins at 823-8750.

©Copyright 2003, The Citizens Voice (PA, USA)

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