Summary of Remarks: Welcome and Overview

W. Cole Durham, Jr.retired in August 2019 as Susa Young Gates University Professor of Law at Brigham Young University, is Founding Director of the BYU Law School’s International Center for Law and Religion Studie

The G20 has historically focused on global economic matters, growing out of the 2008 economic crisis. Since then, it has moved more toward the UN Sustainable Development goals, and in its annual meetings, the host country can choose the emphasis and theme of the meeting. The G20 Interfaith Forum has participated in the G20 process since 2014, contributing to a recognition that religious leaders and actors have a role to play in the formation and implementation of global policy. Religious voices must have an impact on policy at a global level. Around 80% of the world’s population is religiously affiliated in some way, so religious voices and actors play a very significant role in many aspects of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

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Summary of Remarks: “Religious Freedom and Its Impact on Minority Religions”

Elder Ronald A. Rasband is a Member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint

The organizers of the G20 Interfaith Forum invited Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to discuss religious freedom and its impact on minority religions In his remarks in front of global religious leaders he spoke of the beginnings of the Church—itself once a minority. From its humble 19th-century start in New York and its turbulent times in Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois, the Church is now a worldwide faith of nearly 17 million members.

“When religion is given the freedom to flourish, believers everywhere perform simple and sometimes heroic acts of service,” Elder Rasband said. “We stand shoulder to shoulder in service with many of you.”

Elder Rasband outlined the service the Church has done with others during the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021 alone, he said, service included contributions to COVAX to provide nearly 1.5 billion COVID-19 vaccines, 26 million meals given to the hungry, and 294 service projects for refugees in 50 countries.

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Understanding Hindu-Christian Relations: The World Council of Churches’ Approach

Melanie Barbato is a post-doc researcher at the University of Münster

There are two tricky subjects in Hindu-Christian relations: Christian missionary efforts are a red flag for many Hindus, and anti-Christian violence by Hindus is recognized as one of India’s main issues of freedom of religion and belief. These two issues are connected, with accusations of proselytization typically being the background for acts of anti-Christian violence.

The Roots of Hindu Criticism towards Christianity 

It is important to understand this critical Hindu perspective on Christianity. Hindus object to Christian missions for various reasons. Foremost is that the Indian traditions do not share the Western concept of religion as an individualized faith. From the Hindu perspective, a person is born into a cosmic order that includes both religious and social duties. Hindu identity can be considered more like a family relationship one is born into—one neither opts-in nor out. Hindus tend to be tolerant towards people who also hold additional non-Hindu beliefs or participate in activities outside their Hindu culture, with dual belonging being a normal part of Indian culture. Converts to Christianity, however, are often asked by their missionary contacts to leave their old religious identity behind, and this is seen by many Hindus as a direct act of aggression against their religion and traditional way of life.

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