Bishop talks about racism to an audience of multiple faiths


Rt. Rev. Gregory Kerr-Wilson, the Bishop of the Anglican Diocese Church, told an audience of multiple faiths last week that “religion is racism.”

Having captured the audience’s tension, Kerr-Wilson clarified that faith guides how we behave towards others. So, when religion is misused, it can become the platform for racism and that’s what makes racism a religious issue. But, if religion is used for good, it becomes a tool to fix social problems.

“Religion is a thing that shapes meaning for human beings and without it, you have no grounds to combat racism,” Kerr-Wilson said — his diocese covers all of Southern Alberta.

Kerr-Wilson made those comments during a panel discussion of “Religious Perspectives of Racism” at Calgary’s second annual interfaith dinner.

Joining the bishop on the panel from the Muslim Association of Calgary was Adam Idris, from the Jewish community, Rabbi Shaul Osadchey, and representatives from the Beth Tzedec Congregation.

 Osadchey used a humbling analogy from his faith to explain the Jewish perspective on racism.

He said that the faith’s followers are taught not to see their religion as above other religions because it is simply a matter of choice.

“It’s not a doctrine of superiority, its a doctrine of choosiness,” he said.InterfaithDinner1Rt. Rev. Kerr-Wilson speaks at the second annual Interfaith dinner held on Nov. 27.

Photo by Amy Tucker

Meanwhile, Idris said that members of his association believe that everyone, regardless of their faith, is stronger when united.

“We have established that our greatest differences are actually our greatest strengths,” he said.

Idris has been actively involved with Inter-Faith Network of Calgary for seven of the 10 years it has been in existence.

He said the network is one of the few places in the city where multiple faiths can peacefully gather for open discussions and is pleased to “see events like this gain more traction.”

For his part, Intercultural Dialogue Institute of Calgary executive director Malik Muradov — who helped organize the dinner, said the most important thing about the event was to learn “what religions teach about preventing racism.”

The dinner was held at the Ramada Plaza Calgary Airport Hotel and Conference Centre. Tickets were sold for $30 dollars and were by invitation only.

Last year’s interfaith dinner also had a speaker from the Buddhist faith and from the Aboriginal faith, who were both present in the audience at this year’s dinner.

Due to time constraints however they were not included on the panel discussion.

Muradov said that faith speakers will rotate each year from now on.

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