Embrace Foundation Archives


4th October 1985
Opening Address

Ajata N. Sharma

President and Founder of Embrace Foundation

First: To show the solidarity amongst religious leaders around the world representing various faiths who stand together on  
the important issue of Religious Peace. Each speaker will be making a short statement on behalf of the majority of people of  
his or her faith living in various parts of the world.

Second: To bring the attention of the press to the importance of an objective viewpoint when reporting on religious issues in  
areas where fighting is occurring. Emphasis on terrorist activities unwittingly casts a shadow on the innocent and common  
people who follow a religious faith.

Third: The religious leaders speaking today will try to delineate between religious tenets of their faith and the erroneous use  
of the name of religion to address economic and political injustices exercised by minority of people in every culture.

The Fourth and last point to be addressed today, is that of religious freedom. As much as each person would like to believe  
that his or her particular faith is the Truth, we must respect others right to believe as they choose. This is a most difficult  
point. Many people who live in a country where their faith is dominant may never be able to understand the importance of  
religious freedom unless they travel or visit a country where those of their faith are in the minority. However, of all the issues  
presented today, this is the one point which will most make religious harmony possible.

Within the last 40 years, the world has been wracked by 154 conventional wars involving 71 countries and killing over 20  
million people. Not all of these wars have religious overtones attached to them, but many have: Northern Ireland, Lebanon,  
India, Sri Lanka, Ethiopia, Iran, Pakistan, Israeli-Arab conflict, etc... etc... Some wars such as that between Iran and Iraq are  
attributed to differences in religious sects....

According to the Defense Monitor the factors contributing to war vary from political-ideological, economic, territorial, ethnic  
and religious causes. Usually, it is close to impossible to find the "real cause" of a war or an sudden incident of violence,"  
without investigating the economic advantages to be gained and the political ambitiousness of the leaders engaged in  
sending men to war.

Religion is a powerful force which offers a chance to refresh a man's soul and gives a promise of a peaceful community of  
brotherhood. But unlike any other force, in the hands of a few individuals, it can be misused and abused to the point that it is  
unrecognizable. The saints, sages and prophets of all religions at all times have emphasized the importance of a peaceful  
and harmonious society. All have condemned hatred of any sort.

The majority of people of faiths around the world who are victims - have become victims due to wars created by people  
using the name of religion to further their political or economic ambitions. Thoughtful believers of all religions are  
worried over the misuse of the name of religion for political motives, because when religion mixes with politics, it is  
religion that loses credibility.

This press conference has been in preparation for close to a year and although many people from countries whose  
currencies can not possibly match that of the United States, could not afford to come, they did send letters and telegrams of  
support. Some of the letters we received came from places where intense conflict is still going on; such as Assam, and some  
came from countries such as Tanzania, Brazil, Bangladesh (many came from Bangladesh), India, France, Australia and so  
on. We received letters of support from world leaders such as Margret Thatcher, the Chancellor of Switzerland, the President  
of Columbia and from United States Senators, such as Orin Hatch. However one of the letters that particularly touched all of  
us came from Brother David Stendle Rast, a Catholic Brother who travels internationally with a message of peace and I'd like  
to read it to you.

We hope to balance some of the negative with positive. Today we have with us outstanding individuals who have worked  
unrelentingly to create better understanding between people of their faith and the faith of others.

I would like to introduce the Head of The Sufi Order in the West who co-sponsored the Press Conference - Pir Vilayat Inayat  


Embrace Foundation over the years has received many letters of support from Heads of State and politicians - ranging from ultra-liberal to ultra-conservative.  
These terms of course, are relative and apply to completely different standards according to the part of the world you come from. Embrace itself has always been  
non-political. Our interest is with scholars, religious and spiritual leaders and our emphasis and hearts have always been directed towards grassroots projects and  
grassroots people.
The International Press Conference for Religious Peace has been organized to meet four specific requirements of our times.