News Story

Religious Freedom Discussion in Fiji Centres on Building Better Inter-faith Relationships

Inter-faith leaders agreed to build better relationships as they discussed religious freedom in Suva, Fiji on Wednesday, 23 February 2022.

The meeting was sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and hosted by Church leader, Elder Paul Whippy. Ten leaders attended in-person and virtually.

“There was a strong desire to build bridges, reported Elder Whippy. “We talked about collaborating more with one another and coming together to support special religious events.”

One of the common concerns among the leaders was how to strengthen youth, and to help them overcome challenges such as pornography, suicidal thoughts, drug-use and depression.

Elder Whippy said, “We talked about the kinds of activities and resources available in our faith communities to support youth and their families. Young people need to feel that they are loved. They also need opportunities to love others through service. When there is religious freedom, churches and temples can be built as places of sanctuary and belonging, religious schools and charitable organisations can be set up, blessing young people and their families."

The group watched an excerpt from the BYU International Law and Religion Symposium held in October 2021, featuring Dr Susan Kerr, Senior Adviser for Freedom of Religion or Belief at the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights.

According to Kerr, one of the most basic human needs is “respecting everybody’s freedom of religion or belief” as well as “protecting everybody’s right to engage in the public sphere.”

Kerr noted that religious leaders have a very important role to play in reaching out to others. She said, “I’ve seen wonderful examples of communities attending each other’s ceremonies, just to show that they are there for those other communities.”

Kerr suggested that rather than pointing out differences, faith communities could focus on “recognising each other’s humanity."

"It's about uniting around common shared principles," Kerr said. This makes it easier to find "common shared points" or concerns that can be "act[ed] on together."

Additional Resources

Style Guide Note:When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online Style Guide.