Peter W. Ochs, University of Virginia’s Edgar M. Bronfman Professor of Modern Judaic Studies, addressed how to reduce religion-related violence at Union Presbyterian Seminary’s Dawe Lecture.
“Recent news headlines seem to give secularists more courage to say ‘We told you so!,’” Dr. Ochs said. “Is religion itself really dangerous to humankind? Or has it taken western diplomats too long to realize that religious groups do not necessarily act like other social groups; that there are religious resources for peace as well as conflict, that it takes special knowledge to understand religions, and that new coalitions of government and religious and civil society leaders are needed to engage religious groups in times of peace as well as conflict?”
Dr. Ochs’ talk introduced the work of the “Global Covenant of Religions, Inc.,” a new NGO dedicated to drawing on religious as well as governmental and civil society resources.
He is the co-founder of the Society for Scriptural Reasoning, which promotes interfaith dialog among Christians, Jews, and Muslims through scriptural study groups. He is also a co-founder of the Children of Abraham Institute, which promotes interfaith study and dialog among members of the Abrahamic religions.
The annual lecture series pays tribute to the late Professor Donald G. Dawe and Mrs. Nancy Dawe, and promotes ethical and religious understanding. Because of Dr. Dawe’s long-standing interest and commitments in the area of multi-religious and multicultural understanding and interfaith dialogue, the lecture series seeks to contribute to deepened awareness and insight in these areas of intellectual and especially practical religious concern.