a golden cross at the Chapel of the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva, Switzerland

Photo: Nikos Kosmidis/WCC 

Entitled All Because of Religion! Religion, Violence, and the Imperative of Transfiguration,” Amoss lecture focused on an important issue that we face in our world today: the rising tide of violence and its association with religion. 

Amos is a biblical scholar by background with a particular interest in the interface between inter-religious concerns and biblical studies, stemming partly from the years she spent living in Jerusalem and then Beirut.

"It would be a mistake to suggest that the current war between Russia and Ukraine, or in Israel and Gaza was only due to religion, but it would equally be a mistake to suggest religion is not a factor in these two conflicts which are currently dominating the international news,” said Amos. Religiously based violence is not just something that is out there in far away parts of the world; it is a phenomenon that can occur in Britain and Ireland not only when we import quarrels which began far away onto the shores of these islands; it has been, certainly until very recently, a feature of homegrown tensions in which religion played a part, however intertwined with nationalism or other factors it might have been.”

Clare Amos, during a World Council of Churches event, Ecumenical Centre, Geneva, Switzerland, 2017, Photo: Albin Hillert/WCC

Clare Amos, during a World Council of Churches event, Ecumenical Centre, Geneva, Switzerland, 2017, Photo: Albin Hillert/WCC

If a religious tradition is going to play a constructive part in peace-building it is essential for it to be willing to be self-critical, Amos noted. I believe that in interreligious engagement we have the right and duty to challenge followers of other religions to acknowledge possible violent propensities in their faiths, but that we can only do so with integrity if we are also willing to confess the fallibility and failings of our own,” she said. And that needs to be our starting point.”

But there are also two other responsibilities that we have, Amos continued. One is not to collude with adherents of other faiths who are unwilling to recognize that their religion too may be guilty of such failings even if it may sometimes be politically easier to stay silent,” she said. The other is to make the effort to dig deep to find fresh resources that our religion can offer for overcoming violence and building peace in our world.”

The lecture, offered annually, is named for the former general secretary of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland.


Learn more about the WCC interreligious work

"Latest issue of WCC interreligious journal focuses on gender justice" (WCC news release, 2 May 2024)