Rabbi Warns Against Continued Threat of Interreligious Conflict

Rabbi Arthur Schneier, president of the Appeal of Conscience Foundation, warned last night against the continued threat of interreligious conflict, which he said may lead historians to describe the “era we live in … as the age of religious wars.”

“Hateful religious conflict seems to be the order of the day,” Schneier, who is spiritual leader of the Park East Synagogue, told some 500 persons attending the annual award dinner of the Foundation at the Pierre Hotel.

“We live in a world of heightened interreligious tensions,” said Schneier, adding: “Bahais, Catholics, Hindus, Jews, Moslems, Protestants and others have all been involved in violent sectarian strife. And while these conflicts have social and economic roots they have been exacerbated by and charged with religious hatred.”

He proposed a world conference of religious leaders “to confront the festering, ever deepening religious conflicts that imperil world peace and that daily makes victims of innocent men, women and children.” Schneier announced that the Foundation will convene in 1984 an international conference of religious leaders representing major faiths on the theme. “Peace, Tolerance and Human Dignity,” to meet this challenge.

AWARD TO GUY DE ROTHSCHILD

Baron Guy de Rothschild, a prominant leader of French Jewry who was founder and president of the Fond Social Juif Unifie for more than 30 years, was the recipient of the Foundation’s award — a Steuban crystal star — presented by former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, for Rothschild’s “distinguished service, leadership and vision that have advanced the cause of human rights and international cooperation.”

Rothschild, upon receiving the Foundation’s award, said, “Particularly in this most cruel and intolerant century, it is impossible to separate freedom of religion from freedom of conscience with all its implications: respect for every individual, respect for every form of expression, respect for the right to differ. At best, these conditions prevail only in the democratic world, which covers a relatively small part of the globe …”

Congratulatory messages to Rothschild were received from President Reagan, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher of Great Britain and Governor Mario Cuomo.

Founded in 1965, the Appeal of Conscience Foundation is a coalition of Catholic, Protestant, Jewish and Greek Orthodox religious and business leaders who believe that religious freedom is an essential human right, and that today’s challenges to that freedom require ecumenical response.

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