Muslims, Christians and Jews commit themselves: Finland is a multireligious and multicultural society. Acknowledged diversity is a success factor. The multitude of religions and beliefs and the openness and dynamism brought with them create societal and economic development.
The equal status of minorities alongside the majority relays a message of wellbeing for everyone. Multireligiosity and multiculturalism should be seen as an asset and possibility. Finland can avoid the pitfalls in Western-Europe of animosity between ethnic and religious groups and choose the path of multifaceted values and societal harmony.
1) Religions in Common Spaces
In Finland we have so far avoided the worst hate crimes. The best guarantee against them is the secure combined existence, dialogue and cooperation of religions, beliefs and the diverse cultural backgrounds.
The knowledge and understanding of religions and their message belong in modern general education. The education in schools of religions is necessary for all- for the majority and for minorities. Knowledge and familiarity of one’s own religion pared with one’s cultural framework develops critical thinking and gives tools to fight radicalization and hate mongering. The presence of religions is a natural part of the support a society gives to its members in special circumstances – as in the defense forces, health care and prisons.
The better people know their own identity, the less likely they are to feel animosity towards others. The better Finns internalize their own religion, the safer they are with regards to radical propaganda.
2) An Open and Just Immigration Policy
Finland needs a holistic immigration policy. The immigration policy needs to be open and fair to all. It should reflect on immigration related to work or studying, unification of families, refugee quotas and decisions on granting asylum. Immigration strengthens our country’s interaction with the rest of the world and promotes creativity and entrepreneurship. Immigration does not endanger the position of the poor or marginalized persons of our own society, but furthers overall wellbeing. The economic and cultural development of our society require that our country opens its doors to more people from abroad than it does in today’s situation.
3) Global Wellbeing
The development of peace in our society and within the European Union is strengthened by advancing the wellbeing of all humanity. Finland needs to raise its profile in advancing development, peace and human rights. This increases humanity’s performance when faced with common challenges such as wars, poverty and natural disasters. Expertise in religions and religious freedom and the advancement of other human rights belong as a natural part to foreign policy and foreign aid policy. The cooperation of religions in Finland can offer models also for similar initiatives elsewhere.
Helsinki, 5th March 2015
Cooperation of Religions in Finland – CORE
Bishop Kaarlo Kalliala, Vice-President
The Finnish Islamic Council
Anas Hajjar, President
The Central Council of Jewish Communities of Finland
Yaron Nadbornik, Vice-President
The Finnish Ecumenical Council
Heikki Huttunen, Secretary General