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Stuttgart a model for peaceful, active inter-action among religions

"The Religious Round Table" at the World Religion Day

, Germany, 16 January 2005 ( – “The inter-religious dialogue needs more news like this. The initiative taken by Lord Mayor of Stuttgart Wolfgang Schuster really is an example for all to follow.”

With these words Michael Gollmer of Stuttgart’s Bahá’í Community expressed his appreciation for the well-succeeded plan of Lord Mayor to sit seven religious communities around one table.

The “Religious Round Table” in Stuttgart has been meeting regularly since October 2003. On 16 January 2005, during World Religion Day, it presented its programme to the citizens of Stuttgart. 450 people were gathered at the City Hall. Main focus of the podium discussion was the “Manifesto for peaceful, active inter-action among the religions in Stuttgart”. It had already been signed by 23 religious communities in Stuttgart. In the manifesto, the communities commit themselves to making every effort to ensure that religion will never be misused for political purposes nor to excuse violence by anything they say or do. It emphasizes the communities’ active support for the democratic state in which neither extremism nor fundamentalism is to be given an opportunity to take root. The main aim of the manifesto is the meeting and cooperation of religious communities and the promotion of their mutual understanding. Importantly, the consultative committee is a body with official status. Should religious conflict arise in Stuttgart, it may react on behalf of all participating religious communities and give advice to the authorities to take proper and immediate action without interfering in any internal concerns of the communities.

Rudolf Böhmler, Secretary of State for church affairs in Baden-Württemberg (one of Germany’s 16 federal states), had words of praise for the growing dialogue among the religious communities in Stuttgart – an achievement that should not be taken for granted. In this context he honoured the tradition of the World Religion Day in Stuttgart. As a public meeting between members of the different religious communities in Stuttgart it was initiated by the Bahá’í community in 2000 and has been held annually. From 2003 on it has continued under the patronage of the Lord Mayor. In his speech, Secretary of State Böhmler expressed great happiness over the paradigm change in the attitude of the public in the matter of faith. Nietzsche’s assessment that religion would become extinct has repeatedly been proven false. On the contrary, interest in religion is growing anew all over the world as well as in Germany. On the other hand, such religious renewal has its dangers and might conceivably lead to conflict. Channel of communication such as this can solve such potential dangers peacefully before they erupt.

The seven religious representatives on the podium reconfirmed that their motivating force was religious. They sought reconciliation and verified that the manifesto’s spirit had already borne fruit in their respective communities.

Stuttgart’s Protestant Superintendent Hans-Peter Ehrlich called on every individual to “actively” promote reconciliation among the religions. Politics must not become mixed up with religion: “Linking war and God is simply not permissible”. Prelate Michael Brock of Stuttgart’s Catholic community complained about our understanding of the word “tolerance”. The question is not whether we should “tolerate” each other. Our discourse should go beyond that and lead to real friendship. The actions of each believer must be guided by his or her own conscience. In common with all participants, he emphasized the importance of parental upbringing and pointed to the diversified kindergarten programme offered by the Catholic Church which is open to all – independent of religion, language or origin.

Ferid Kugic from the Bosnian-Islamic community emphasized that people can be a source of peace only when they have made peace with themselves. This is the paramount mission of religion. As people, we are made to serve others. Sami Ercan from the Turkish-Islamic cultural community (DITIB) emphasized the role religion should play in the war against violence and drugs among the young. Barbara Traub, spokesperson for Württemberg’s Israeli Community, told of her happiness that schoolchildren were being brought to visit the Synagogues during the recently introduced “Jewish Cultural Weeks” which enrich the state capital with their wide variety of cultural programmes. She also reported on the community’s work helping immigrants to integrate in their new environment. Traub also referred to peace as an “individual duty.” She appealed for a “unity” among religions which would not interfere with their individuality or independence.

Martina Künstner from the Buddha House Stuttgart explained that the basic Buddhist belief was to examine everything and to adopt that which was “wholesome” for people. Haleh Sabet, who represented the Bahá’í Community, was happy to see that the open inter-religious dialogue was gaining in importance. According to Bahá’í teachings, all religions came from the one Source and were attached to one another like the links in a chain. Bahá’ís strive to be the catalyst in the ongoing process of different religious communities getting to know each other better. The World Religion Day urges every individual believer to intensify their own personal dialogue with members of other Faiths in the coming year. Reacting to a question from the public, she spoke about the ongoing of persecution of the Bahá’ís in Iran. “It would be a great step ahead if there was a Round Table of Religions there like the one in Stuttgart. This would protect the largest religious minority in Iran from a lot of suffering.”




– retrospective –


World Religion Day 2004

Germany, Stuttgart

Sunday, January 25, 2004
Neues Schloss Stuttgart (Weißer Saal)


Panel Discussion
Do All Religions Believe
in the Same God?

Rabbi Netanel Wurmser
Chief Rabbi of the State of Württemberg, Stuttgart

Prelate Martin Klumpp
Protestant Church Stuttgart

Imam Bekir Alboga
\ Institute for German-Turkish Integration Studies, Mannheim

Armin Eschraghi
Association for Bahá’í Studies, Frankfurt

Prof. Dr. Urs Baumann
Department of Theology, University of Tübingen

Michael Blume
Christian-Islamic Association of Stuttgart




World Religion Day 2002

©Copyright 2005, All rights reserved.

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