Moreover, despite the fact that these elites hold such meetings after every outbreak of religious based violence, the violence keeps recurring. Despite this problem, there are a number of factors involved in interfaith dialog that make it an important arena for transforming destructive religious attitudes into loving ones.
The 9/11 tragedy created a rift in interfaith relations - mainly between Islam and Christianity - and unfortunately, this rift has led to yet further bloodshed. In response to this, an international interfaith dialog was held in Jogjakarta on the 6th and 7th of December, 2004. Participants came from ten South East Asian countries and four other countries, namely Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, and East Timor. The objective of the dialog was to develop understanding and harmony among the interfaith communities, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region.
The main focus at the conference revolved around the following question: How can interfaith tensions in Pattani Thailand, Poso, Palu, Palestine-Israel and elsewhere be resolved through negotiations between religious and political elites when the actual perpetrators of the violence are not included? Moreover, despite the fact that these elites hold such meetings after every outbreak of religious based violence, the violence keeps recurring. Despite this problem, there are a number of factors involved in interfaith dialog that make it an important arena for transforming destructive religious attitudes into loving ones.
First, inter-faith dialog treats religion as a form of ideology. Therein, religion can either bind or destroy society. Differences in religious opinions over injustice and power cause conflicts and exclusive perspectives only exacerbate the problem. In this context, the ideology of religion always serves to justify domination and disguise personal or group interests and it is this aspect of religion that inter-faith dialog specifically works to surmount (Haryatmoko: 2003).
Second, there is a double standard at work. For example, Hugh Goddard, in his monumental work Christians & Muslims: from Double Standards to Mutual Understanding has noted that a double standard has resulted in a misunderstanding between Christianity and Islam. Christians and Muslims use one standard for themselves and another standard for each other and other religions. This double standard presents a major problem for interfaith relations in that proponents of each religion claim their interpretations to be exclusively true or authentic while considering other’s religious beliefs to be human rather divine constructions (Munawar Rahman: 2001).
The third point is similar to the first. Herein religion is often explicitly used for legitimating unequal social relations. This use of religion typically ends in violence. One example of this is the war against terrorism led by the United States. For some Islamic groups, this is an overtly Christian campaign and therefore they resist and refuse it. Their resistance is not so much an objection to the war against terrorism, but to the claim that terrorist values are derived from Muslim religion and culture.
Fourth, specific social and regional populations follow different forms of religion and conflicts between regions and groups take on religious dimensions. Herein, Javanese or Acehnese people are identified with Islam, the Balinese with Hinduism, and people in Flores with Christianity. Ethnic identity is thus often conflated with other people’s religious beliefs and this simplifies the complexity of the situations at hand. This is dangerous as personal, ethnic and social conflicts often lead to outbreaks of interfaith conflict.
In short, these four phenomenon too often engender fanaticism which is the main obstacle to freedom. Moreover, as Hannah Arendt wrote in The Human Condition, the roots of fanaticism lie in the rejection of diversity, and it is the acceptance of this diversity that is at the core of inter-faith dialog.