Country Women Association of Nigeria (COWAN), has held a symposium in Jos the Plateau State Capital, to promote freedom of religion or belief as well as tolerance among adherents of different religions.
Plateau State Coordinator of COWAN, Mrs Jessica Vonkat said that the programme was put together to check the soaring religious intolerance and discrimination against persons based on religion or belief.
Vonkat stated that even though freedom of religion or belief is enshrined in Nigerian Constitution, most of the nation’s recent challenges revolve around religion due to intolerance and discrimination.
“Our purpose of calling you here is for us to come together and think of a way forward.
“Why were we living in peace before but enmeshed in different forms crises in the name of religion?
“In Plateau, for example, we have Christians living in one area and Muslims staying in another instead of living together as it used to be.
“We have to find ways to bridge these gaps and encourage people of different faiths to cohabit, otherwise, we will continue to have the problems we are experiencing,” she said.
She stated that COWAN would continue to organise meetings at regular intervals with Muslims and Christians to proffer solutions to the problem.
Mr Boniface Anthony of Justice Development and Peace Caritas (JDPC), in his presentation, said that while the number of Churches and Mosques were on the increase, crime was also on the increase but humanity on the decline.
Anthony believes that the situation is a result of the shallow teachings and education that is given or attached to religion.
“Freedom of religion gives us the freedom to belong where we want but in as much as those rights are available, we must also do what is morally right as enshrined in our various religious books.
“We have two amazing books but rather than us reading and understanding these two books, the books seem to be reading and understanding us better.
“Why? Because we read them and we do the opposite. If not, we won’t be having all these clashes here and there,” he explained.
Another presenter, Mr Umar Musa, Plateau State Coordinator, Muslim Council of Nigeria encouraged people of different religions to add value to humanity.
Musa said that the presentation was to draw the attention of the general public that religion was something to hold until for the betterment of the society and not the other way round.
“That once we agree to adhere strictly to the words we call commandments that are contained in the religion because like we said, it adds value.
“The commandments sharpen our behaviour, our morals and what have you.
“So we expect that people should really understand the place of religion in their life and what it adds to them,” he added.
AFRIPOST reports that the symposium was organised with donation from BellWeather International.