Religious leaders discuss money, morality

Representatives from four religions gathered to share perspectives on the economy’s ups and downs and how to handle one’s personal money

RELIGIOUS LEADERS gathered at Northwest Community College last week to talk about morality amidst economic crises.

It was organized by Vancouver resident Rizwan Peerzada with the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community’s B.C. Branch.

The World Religions Conference is part of a work that intends to educate the world about Islam and promotes understanding between people of different religions and to bring harmony to people by bringing them closer to God.

On Sept. 23, representatives from four religions – Sikhism, the Islamic faith, Christianity and Buddhism – gathered to share perspectives on the economy’s ups and downs and how to handle one’s personal money, morally, throughout our lives.

From the Buddhist perspective, which is a spiritual tradition with Asian roots dating back roughly 2,500 years, Brian Ruke spoke.

The former monk and now Buddhist teacher talked about attachment to money as a cause of suffering — pointing to the second Buddhist noble truth which states the origin of suffering is attachment to transient things, like any economy which is prone to bouts of ups and downs.

The next to speak was Pastor Blake Holenstein.

Holenstein ministers at Terrace’s Pentecostal Assembly.

He spoke from the perspective of the Christian faith – a monotheistic faith that sets itself apart from others that believe in one god by paying special attention to the birth and resurrection of Jesus Christ, believing he is the son of God and the true saviour of man.

“Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the life. Jesus Christ is supreme over the world and the economy, everything is His, and He is the fulfilment of the law (morality),” said Holenstein.

“The good news for followers of Jesus Christ is that they get him and that He is enough no matter what comes! There is no contentment apart from Jesus Christ, for only He will satisfy.”

The speaker to follow was Muhammad Afzal Mirza.

He talked about the morality of money from the perspective of Islam, another monotheistic religion.

Mirza gave an example of a man, who looked another in his eyes, ignoring the other’s suffering and need for shelter.

Instead, this man chose to enslave the other by contract, lending him money for his home under strict requirements to pay more than was lent within a specific time frame.

And if the other man could not pay, the first would then seize everything he owned with little regard for the human impact of such actions.

Chances are, he said, one would not like the first man very much.

Yet, this is what the banks do.

This anecdote was a compelling example of how some contemporary models of thinking contradict ways humans ought to morally care for one another.

Terrace local Davinder Singh Sangha spoke from the perspective of the Sikh religion, also a monotheistic religion.

He spoke about the pursuit of money, noting the difference between its pursuit and greed.

Money is a tool to be used, he said, noting the virtue in understanding the difference between stepping on others to attain or retain it, and pursuing one’s goals and using it as a tool to help others.

The evening’s overall tone was respectful, engaging, and evoked contemplation through the wisdom of spiritual teachings.

The conference in Terrace was just one stop on the road for the group, whose itinerary includes Prince George, Quesnel, Dease Lake and Whitehorse. This is the seventh symposium the group has held here.

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