Religious fanatics capture headlines, but the big story is that interfaith cooperation has reached unprecedented levels. This is because religious communities are increasingly laying aside denominational jargon for the language of public collaboration.
The elderly Venerable Tep Vong, the Supreme Patriarch of the Buddhist community in Cambodia, traveled to Jaffna in Sri Lanka in the middle of the recent civil war. In a broken city under siege, he joined others – Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, and Christians – to try to bring a peaceful end to the violent separatist conflict. The force of his quiet Buddhist resolve was unmistakable. Yet he never quoted a single Buddhist scripture. He spoke, instead, in the plainest of ordinary words.
Who would have thought that speaking plainly in ordinary language is revolutionary? But for many religious communities, it is. The revolution is the growth of multi-religious action based upon ancient religious meanings but using new ways to communicate across religious lines. The evidence, if you look, is everywhere: war zones, places of extreme poverty, schools, and regular neighborhoods. Religiously fanatical forces capture headlines, but the big story is that religious communities are actively cooperating on a scale until recently unimaginable. Shoulder-to-shoulder on the front lines of today’s challenges, multi-religious cooperation is mainstream, and it’s growing.