Strategies for Moving Beyond Disputes About “God”

Religion is, and according to recorded history always has been, a major source of conflict between groups of peoples. This article addresses what the writer perceives to be a pervasive root of conflict at the basic level between believers— “who has the “right” God?” As found by a recent BBC Poll, over 60% of the world population holds “ethnocentric religious beliefs” in that they believe their religion or God is the only true religion or God. To begin, it should be recognized that most religions, or at least most religious texts, provide evidence of a preference for compromise to resolve conflict. The goal in religious conflict resolution then, as stated by one academic article, “is to facilitate a change from the participants’ narrow, exclusionist, antagonistic, or prejudiced attitudes and perspectives to a more tolerant and open minded attitude.” Mohammed Abu-Nimer, 38 J. PEACE RESEARCH 685, 686 (Nov. 2001). This article provides a broad overview of how getting past the “belief” to the relationship between the believer and the belief may bring diverse religious perspectives to some consensus.

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