Nasir Khan, June 8, 2014
In Norway one social activist and theologian within the Lutheran church who has done much to advance the cause of religious dialogue amongst the believing communities is Oddbjørn Leirvik. He has focused on creating bonds of understanding and toleration between diverse religious communities. He represents an enlightened perspective in matters of religion that traditionally have led to much conflict and acrimony in history. Single-mindedly he has followed an open and all-inclusive approach in inter-religious dialogue instead of the more familiar practice where people beat the drums of their own faith being the best and repository of all the truth for the whole of humanity.
Professor Leirvik is one of those people who understand that in these times social and political conditions have changed fast. Many countries in Western Europe have become multi-ethnic, muti-cultural and multi-religious. Now we find an increasing number of people from different parts of the world, belonging to different religions, religious traditions and non-religious ideologies living and working in the same country. They are all part of the same society. To live and work together in a humane and peaceful way we need to understand and respect others. That does not mean that we have to accept the misuse and manipulation of religion by some groups or individuals or bow down before those traditions that violate basic human rights and relegate an inferior social status to women. In all such things, Professor Leirvik stands for a just and equitable society where basic human values take precedence over bigotry and crude anti-social indoctrination.