Interfaith Relations

A unique strength of ARLPI is that the organization brings together leaders from the major religions in Northern Uganda (Anglican, Catholic, Muslim, Orthodox, Pentecostal, and Seventh Day Adventist) to work for sustainable peace and reconciliation. Knowing that God created all humankind in His image, ARLPI seeks to focus on the humanity of all instead of dwelling on the differences which threaten to divide us.

Reconciling the Religious Divide:

One of the greatest accomplishments which ARLPI has achieved was to unite and reconcile the various religious traditions that exist within northern Uganda. For decades suspicion, resentment, and even outright hate between the followers of different faiths has existed due to the politicization of religion. While there has been a history of division among the Anglican and Catholic churches in Uganda, perhaps the greatest hurdle to religious unity was regarding Islamic-Christian relations.

During the brutal reign of Idi Amin, many Christians had been victims of violence and persecution by the leaders attempt to promote Islam throughout Uganda. As a result, great misunderstandings arose and many believed Islam to be a religion characterized by violence and oppression. When Amin’s regime was ousted in 1979, a number of individuals engaged in revenge attacks against the Muslim community driving them from their homesteads resulting in further division.[1]

While in the past specific religious groups had been targets of violence, the war in Acholiland did not discriminate and all suffered greatly despite their religious affiliation. Having recognized this, the religious leaders put aside their differences to labor towards peace for all rather than promoting their individual faiths. Out of this commitment ARLPI formed its motto, ‘Kacel pi Kuc’ (Together for peace).

As the religious leaders worked together, trust slowly formed as a result of their consistency to honor and respect each others beliefs. By dialoging over various issues, longstanding misconceptions about the ‘other’ became shattered strengthening the relationship between them. This act of reconciliation is widely respected by the community and can be largely attributed to ARLPI’s success in transforming conflict. One traditional leader stated, “ARLPI is an example of how people who have differences can be unified and come together to eradicate future conflict.”[2]

Although ARLPI has largely been successful in foraging a spirit of unity among the different religious institutions in northern Uganda, some tensions still exist especially at the grassroot level. In that past, some lower level religious leaders have used ARLPI activities to evangelize resulting in tensions among the leaders of different faiths. This called for ARLPI to better define the roles and responsibilities of their peace volunteers and illustrated that more teaching and guidance by the top religious leaders was needed to ensure unity for the sake of peace is maintained.

[1] All Hajji Sheik Musa Khalil, Interview on Reconciliation, ARLPI Head Office, Gulu, Uganda, Oct 21/08)

[2] Rwot Mol, Interview on ARLPI Community Involvement, Kitgum, Uganda, Aug 1/08. Throughout consultative meetings with community leaders in the districts of Pader and Kitgum, numerous individuals described ARLPI leaders as role models due to their spirit of unity among the religious leaders from various faith backgrounds. They are widely referred to as individuals who not only preach reconciliation, but live it out in their everyday lives thus creating great trust and among the people.

For more information regarding interfaith relations, please see:

Horn of Africa: Christian & Muslims Consult on Peace in Africa

Three Faiths Discover Diversity

Inter-religious Dialogue Key to Coexistence

Catholic Archbishop Pays Visit to Muslim Clergy

U.S. Envoy Calls For Religious Tolerance