Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
Imam Amir Salihovic of the Islamic Bosnian Mosque talks to Melissa Lichtenstein and other visitors as they take part in Interfaith Month on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018.

Global religious leaders convene Wednesday in Argentina to show the world solutions to political and economic issues will not reach their full effect without valuable input from faith communities.

The G20 Interfaith Forum enters its fifth annual session this week in Buenos Aires, providing an important backdrop to the Group of 20 economic summit set to take place in Argentina later this year. At the economic forum, global leaders will debate how to give better access to food, to build sustainable infrastructure for needed development and to provide labor forces with skills to succeed in a digital era. In short, efforts to tackle these political-economic challenges aim for a single goal: to alleviate suffering through building human dignity.

One would be hard pressed to find a more appropriate sphere for religious leaders to influence.

Perhaps that’s why the G20 Interfaith Forum chose “Religious Contributions for a Dignified Future” for its theme this year. The overarching aim of the forum is to develop “recommendations on priority issues that draw on interfaith insight and experience.”

Elder D. Todd Christofferson, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which owns this paper, will take part in discussions regarding emerging global challenges. He also will deliver two formal addresses at the forum.

" It’s imperative political leaders understand the offerings of faith communities and the heritage of belief to answer the quandaries that afflict much of the global population. "

Deseret News religion reporter Kelsey Dallas will also attend. Her recent in-depth reporting has highlighted the need for religious groups to be active in political matters and has explored ways for religious groups and social activists to find common ground in the so-called culture war.

On her way to the conference, Dallas told the Deseret News, "One of the conference's key goals is to show that religion and religious people still have a role to play in solving global crises, even as the world becomes more secular."

It’s imperative political leaders understand the offerings of faith communities and the heritage of belief to answer the quandaries that afflict much of the global population. Without input from interfaith networks, nations further risk shunting religion to the sideline as a practice best reserved for the privacy of a home or a building of worship. To the contrary, religion needs a voice in the public square as a dimension of diversity. Religious input draws from a long history of community-based solutions and an inherent compassion for the individual often lost in 30,000-foot policy debates.

9 comments on this story

Those are necessary contributions when discussing the future of immigration, help for refugees and religious freedom. The value of interfaith groups is also needed to address the disturbing reality of religious violence and targeted persecution. Interfaith networks promote fairness, tolerance, understanding and patience with others who believe or act differently, and those qualities will go a long way to break down walls of intolerance among aggressive or despotic world leaders.

The countries that comprise the Group of 20 also account for 90 percent of global economic output and two-thirds of the world’s population. Millions of daily lives can progress if these leaders coalesce around the right plans. Chances for success will improve if input from faith groups is an element of those plans.