Faith and friendship


It is heartening to know that young people today appear to be more open-minded and tolerant about diversity issues in the community today.

One such issue is on religious beliefs held by individuals belonging to various groups.

In other societies, as shown in numerous reports, intolerance and discrimination over this particular concern is heavily felt.

Consider this compilation:

• Last year, 4,998 Christians were killed for their faith, with around 90 percent of these were in Nigeria (just over 4,000), where Christian communities continue to be attacked with devastating impunity by armed bandits and Islamic militants. (Open Doors)

• The country with the next highest number of deaths is the Democratic Republic of Congo with 261.

• More than 124,000 Christians were forcibly displaced from their homes because of their faith, and almost 15,000 became refugees.

• Sub-Saharan Africa – the epicenter of global Christianity – has become the epicenter of violence against Christians, as Islamist extremism has spread well beyond Nigeria.

• North Korea is back at No. 1, according to the 2023 World Watch List, the latest annual accounting from Open Doors of the top 50 countries where it is most dangerous and difficult to be a Christian.

• India has been recommended as an area of concern due to persistent violations of religious freedoms. At least 525 attacks against Christians were reported in the first eight months of 2023.

The figures and facts state indicate glaring examples of religious persecution, “which can include murder, censorship and harsh social criticism or social censure.”

The U.S.-based Pew Research Center, a non-partisan think tank, disclosed that two religions – Christianity and Islam – are “persecuted in more countries around the world than other religions” and that Muslims and Jews are “most likely to live in countries where their groups experience harassment.”

With organizations promoting religious pluralism, which is considered today as a political philosophy, we can assume that communities and societies are aiming for that “state of being where every individual in a religiously diverse society has the rights, freedoms, and safety to worship, or not, according to their conscience.”

The United Nations is among these organizations. It designated the International Day of Tolerance (every November 16), inspiring people “to work together to promote tolerance and understanding and help ease the burdens of communities most vulnerable to discrimination and ethnic hatred.”

Peace advocates have been campaigning for pluralism and tolerance as measures to address the religion-motivated global violence.

Another global observance – the International Day of Multilateralism and Diplomacy for Peace – was marked few weeks ago – on April 24 – which “seeks to reaffirm the UN Charter and its principles of resolving disputes among countries through peaceful means.”


At the Division of Negros Occidental Schools Press Conference held at Hinigaran National High School on May 3 and 8, Filipino feature writing contestants were asked to describe their acquaintance or relationship with those who belonged to another faith.

While a number wrote about ties with someone from another Christian doctrine or persuasion, there were those who shared their thoughts about friendship with members of the Muslim community.

Our chief feature-writing evaluator, Keith Brandon Cari-an, summed up his general observations of the entries:

“They largely talked about the differences between how the writers and subject practiced their faith. They also tackled assumptions one might have on the religion another grew up with and even gave examples how misinformed assumptions cause bullying in schools.

“While most of the campus journalists chronicled about stereotypes of their friend’s religions, they all wrote about how friendship transcends beliefs and religious practices.”

Indeed, a positive observation amid a society confronted by strife, misunderstanding and cultural and ethnic differences.


And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7) | NWI