Faith groups essential to achieving development goals

Religious values and organizations are vitally important to the success of the U.N.'s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) - a concept that the U.N. itself only now seems to be realizing, said experts at a panel discussion at the Religion Communicators Council annual convention, meeting in New York from March 31 to April 2.

The SDGs -- 17 goals for human advancement meant to be achieved by 2030 - are aimed at developing connections among peoples and between humanity and the planet, unlike their predecessor, the U.N.'s earlier Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), noted WACC General Secretary, the Rev. Dr. Karin Achtelstetter. "Sustainable development looks at the intrinsic connections between people and planet. In doing so we need to take account of the spiritual dimension," she observed.

"Faith-based organizations have been involved in development before the U.N. was created," delivering health and education services when governments could not, said Rudelmar Bueno de Faria, World Council of Churches representative to the U.N. He added that religious language defines the principles behind the SDGs.

Moderated by Dr. Azza Karam, a senior adviser at the U.N. Population Fund, the April 2 plenary was entitled "What's Faith Got to Do with It? Faith Organizations, the U.N. and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)." The panel also included Lt. Col. Dr. Dean Pallant, director of the International Social Justice Commission at The Salvation Army, who said the "aspirational, holistic" SDGs reflect the ambitions of those with religious faith. "My faith is to be like Jesus and I fail at that every day, but that is my ambition," he said.

The relationship between the U.N. and religious groups seems to be growing closer, but it has not always been smooth, the panelists observed. "For years, we were told that since you have the ‘C' [Christian] in your name, you can never get funding and you cannot chair this or that. So for years we tried to learn secular language to be accepted. Now the pendulum has swung to the other extreme. Now we are told that faith matters, but where is the normality in this process?" asked Achtelstetter.

Faith-based organizations need to identify their purpose, said Pallant. "If we are going to negotiate this space, we need to be clear on who we are. Does our identity make a difference in the world? The SDGs are so helpful; they are a holistic vision of a redeemed world but we need to be clear this is not something we want to do because we want the money or because it is a U.N. agenda. It is God's agenda," Pallant said.

The SDGs do not specifically mention religion but do refer to culture and Achtelstetter said "it is important to look at culture and religion. What comes out of the Holy Scriptures and what is culture? We read the Holy Scriptures with a cultural lens."

De Faria reaffirmed the importance of culture referencing a recent meeting in Lebanon where the Christians participants said, "we can't work on a strategy of advancement for peace without being with our Muslim brothers."

The panelists, in the end, all agreed that the religious principle of "love thy neighbor" - the Golden Rule, as Achtelstetter mentioned - governs the essence of the SDGs. De Faria said that "love is the answer you cannot talk about human dignity without taking love as the basis and this relates to the SDGs."


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Do we have any Idea to unify the world beyond the inherited religious and political thoughts?



No doubt, religious values and organizations are vitally important for the success of SDGs.

But How?

In fact, it had been always lethal to write and address in favor or against the institutionalized faith of human being divided by several religious and political strictures and belief is a matter of individual will, but the use of religions (the basis for belief) for political and professional beneficence had been always lethal for any community or sect. I mean to say, it's the time to look forward for a "unanimous conclusion" to tackle the clashes between religion and state, theism and atheism that being used as a political tool, it's the time to find out the way to prevent (without disgracing the belief of any humankind) the further rise of "hate religious campaigns" that creating the basis for terrorism and war in the world that existing under the shadow of Nuclear weapons, for the success of SDG in actual fact.


Really the UN SDGs are not all-inclusive, nor are they perfect, because development is the path to prosperity, but the sustainability needs peace on basis of promoting humanity and unity beyond the inherited political and religious thoughts. If UN is offering a great starting point that can be the catalyst of a free will shift in religious value systems on a global perspective, than UN even needs a basic policy to approach the religious goups in one notion (without disgracing the belief of any humankind , to get interacted with the SDGs to actualize the intents within the spheres of influence.


In fact, it is impossible for the political, religious or scientific insight, to unify the human perception according to the needs for the success of SDGs. But, UN can easily appreciate the religious organizations to define the basis for Moral Education that would help them to......


(1) Fill the intangible gaps between scientific, political and religious thoughts to enable humanity to define the belief system with a scientific insight according to the contemporary needs. Currently a majority of the people is gripped in their own inherited system of thoughts and genetic nature that is emerging as communal violence, religious conflicts, terrorism and war.     (It is the real obstacle on the path to the success of the SDGs)


(2) Separate the sacred religious graces from the political mazes, to combat the evil perception that is creating the basis for terrorism and war. We believe it would help the world's leadership to bridge up the religious boundaries to perpetuate the basis for peace and humanity that existing under the shadow of Nuclear weapons that can destroy the dreams for SDGs faster than our imagination.


(3) Raise the value of MORAL education by bringing all the religious definitions in one notion within scientific insight following the history of humankind on Earth. It should be presented in the form of literature, to unify the people beyond their inherited religious and political thoughts, without disgracing the belief of any humankind.   (It is essential for the unity that SDGs needs for its success in actual fact.)



Edited Fri, Feb 9, 2018 10:47 PM

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