Posted by Barry Thornton

As featured in the Guardian Express

AN Anglican Reverend, a Rabbi and an Imam shared grace duties at today’s Rotary of Perth meeting titled ‘The Faith Healers’.

Soon after, the conversation turned to the threat of radicalisation of youth in Australia.

Reverend John Shepherd, Rabbi Dovid Freilich and Imam Feizel Chotiah were panel members for a Q & A on the threat to religion, lack of knowledge around faith and radicalisation.

Mr Chotiah said groups that radicalised youth in Australia and related funding came from overseas.

He said Australia was the safest country in the world when it came to terrorism threats because of the successful working relationship between the Australian Federal Police, ASIO and the Muslim community.

The three religious leaders agreed that education was the key to people understanding and accepting different faiths.

“People are afraid of what they don’t understand,” Mr Chotiah said.

“The sad fact of the matter is that most children are introduced to Muslim faith through the World Trade Centre towers exploding and that’s the unfortunate reality.

“Children aren’t born to hate.”

Imam Feizel said he was introduced to Christianity and Judaism through learning the “life of Christ” as a child in South Africa.

“Growing up in South Africa we couldn’t interact with the white Christian community,” he said.

“After 1994 (when Nelson Mandela was elected president) I had my first friendship with a white Christian and I saw a reflection in them of what I had learned about Christ.”

Mr Freilich said it was the responsibility of every clergyman “and everyone involved in having a pulpit”, to stop radicalisation by preaching peace to their communities.

He said it was important to stress that people shouldn’t judge Judaism by Jews, Christianity by Christians or Islam by Muslims.

“The religion itself is there to teach the basic principals but we have to stress that what they (the followers) say or believe of various groups is not what the religion is all about,” Mr Freilich said.

Mr Shepherd, a Rotary of Perth member, said Anglican schools in Perth were already teaching students about other faiths and there was a Eucharist available for Jews, Muslims and Christians.

“The more we can be together, pray together, work together the better,” he said.