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Latter-day Saints Join Multi-faith Roundtable Discussion on Religious Freedom

In recognition and celebration of the United Nations’ World Interfaith Harmony Week, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Surrey, British Columbia, hosted a roundtable discussion with the Global Clergy Association and members of several faith traditions, including Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Sikhism, on February 4, 2017.

The Global Clergy Association works to unite leaders and members of different faiths to support and defend the religious rights and freedoms of all people to practice the beliefs of their faith without fear of recrimination. Highlighted at the event was the recent violence against Muslims in Quebec as well as a roundtable discussion on how to eliminate these kinds of atrocities from our society.

Speaking from the Hindu perspective, Avinash Maniram stated, “Being Canadian means to appreciate different faith traditions. … We all need to live the day with love and end the day with love.” Other speakers shared similar views of the need to love others and to accept the diversity of our society.

Paul Hardy, a member of the Abbotsford British Columbia Stake presidency of the Church, said, “Interfaith dialogue is the start; we need to now move to interfaith doing.” Hardy continued, “We need to serve together.” Then, referring to the strength of a rope coming from individual strands being bound together, he said, “We are all the individual strands.”

One of the roundtable discussion organizers, Tonya Engen, who is active on the Surrey Interfaith Council, said, “These events are important to both the community at large as well as to each individual faith community because we find strength from each other and can support one another.”

This sentiment was echoed by Dr. Jagessar Das, president of the Global Clergy Association (Canada), who said, “We are all the same. We need to look beyond the labels and strive to live in peace and harmony. This can only be possible as we work together from our different faith perspectives.”

Following a reception that included an array of ethnic foods and musical performances from the Sikh community, all in attendance participated in a roundtable discussion on how faith groups and the broader community can work together to eradicate hatred and prejudice in our society and agreed this meeting should become an annual event.

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