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Example of Religion and Conflict Resolution

Dr. David Steele worked with the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and Center for Religious Dialogue in the Balkans from 1994 to 2003. During the wars in the Balkans, Dr. Steele worked with Muslim and Christian religious leaders to help resolve conflict and to press them toward greater recognition of the other. During six years of demanding work, he developed the six-step approach outlined below.

A Bosnian Muslim kneels at his father's grave in a cemetery
A Bosnian Muslim prays at his father's grave. (AP Photo/Amel Emric)

Six-Step Approach for Religious Leaders to Work Toward Conflict Resolution:

  • Process grief by listening to one another's stories
  • Share fears to build trust
  • Identify the other group's needs
  • Admit wrongs done by oneself or one's own group
  • Forgive others publicly
  • Jointly envision and strategize a restorative justice

The Impact of Steele's Reconciliation and Peacemaking Dialogue Efforts

  • Re-humanized the enemy
  • Transformed relationships among participants
  • Forgiveness was viewed as a long-term process
  • Restorative justice did not involve punishment or revenge; it was based on the needs of the people, moving beyond the thinking of retribution

Interfaith Dialogue's Contribution for Peace

Interfaith dialogue can play a significant and successful role in:

  • Preventing threats and violence and conflicts to any faith-based community
  • Applying interfaith dialogue to manage and resolve local and international conflicts
  • Rethinking interfaith dialogue to promote personal and communal peace-building efforts

   
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