How often do we hear religion being blamed for the wars of the world? The argument goes that, as there is a religious dimension to the mess in the Middle East, Islamic State, Northern Ireland… so religion must be a force for bad.
Yet within each of the three Abrahamic religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam – there is a priority of peace, a vision and longing for peace over violence. A new exhibition exploring the theme of peace within different faiths, glimpses the textual and practical search for peace in each of these “Religions of the Book”. It tells stories of their peace-makers. It shows how each stresses hospitality and welcome for the stranger, including the stranger of other faiths.
Faith and Peace is sponsored by the Anglican Pacifist Fellowship and illustrated with images of artefacts in the collection of the Peace Museum in Bradford.
Liz Firth, Peace Education Worker and Trustee of the Peace Museum and member of the Justice and Peace Commission has been working with local groups of women in Bradford at different community venues and places of worship. The groups were Syrian refugees who recently arrived in Bradford from Syria, members of the Shine Creative Threads group who meet at St Stephen’s church in West Bowling in Bradford and a group of women from different faiths who met at Bradford Cathedral.
Stitching a Tree of Life for the Healing of the Nations, or working on a faux-stained-glass representation of Naomi and Ruth, biblical refugees from famine, or creating a book of link prints has been a formative experience for these women.
What priority do we give to peace-making and nonviolence in our own faith? Seeing Faith and
Peace encourages us to work creatively with people of other faiths, side by side to learn the things that make for peace.
We hope that the exhibition will provide the opportunity to reflect on the male and female heroes for peace, on Jesus’s teaching and example against violence, and the importance of working alongside neighbours of other faiths. If we all act on the imperative for peace-making in our own faith, perhaps others will see that religion is not the problem but part of the solution for the peace of our world.
The exhibition was installed at Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford and will be exhibited in Leeds and Bradford next year as well as further afield. Liz will be hosting more workshops with local women
to create new pieces of artwork as well as facilitating stand-alone workshops on the themes of the exhibition with other local groups.