Publication Date

2006

Abstract

This paper proposes training the religious leaders of our communities as mediators for conflict. It asks if mediation is consistent with all religions and how applicable mediation skills may be in the professional lives of religious leaders. Mediation is one of the best tools available for those interested in conflict resolution/transformation, yet remains underused in our society and no federal laws exist governing the use of mediation. The recommendations and conclusions drawn in this paper come from my own survey research combined with the original research of the Interfaith Center of New York in conjunction with Urban Agenda, Joseph F. Murphy Institute for Worker Education and Labor Studies, City University of New York (CUNY), and Jobs with Justice. My research methodology included phone survey interviews done from a random sampling of religious leaders from the borough of Brooklyn, New York. This research is important for all those wanting to understand the role of the faith-based community in developing social movements and political change, regardless of ideological persuasion (Reiss, 1). My research shows that religious leaders are in constant contact with conflict during their professional lives', that mediation is consistent with most religious traditions, and that religious leaders are approached with conflict most times even before police would be. The community link between police and the court system and religious leaders, shows to be a network of utmost importance when combating conflict. Boston was able to lower murder rates by 80% in the 1990's when the religious leaders became actively involved in community issues with police (Ury, 2002, p.59). By training religious leaders as mediators, we can create a similar link, and begin working on improving community relationships and reducing conflict. What this training may look like in the future remains to be seen, but a first step of training these religious leaders, is a step we should be taking to reduce conflict in our communities.

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