SGI-USA Participates in Interfaith Roundtable on Hate Crimes in Southern California, USA
On June 26, 2008, in a suburb of Los Angeles (LA), California, USA, the LA County Human Relations Commission hosted an interfaith roundtable on hate crimes. The commission's Executive Director Robin Toma invited 33 leaders representing a broad diversity of faith communities, among which was SGI-USA.
To open the event, Mr. Toma gave an overview of the commission's goals and current programs and presented trends and patterns of hate crimes, including how intergroup violence impacts various religious communities. He also presented results of a national poll on attitudes held by various ethnic groups toward groups other than their own.
The majority of the half-day event was spent engaging in small group discussions on action items to promote positive human relations. A summary of each discussion was then reported back to the group at large. Among the ideas generated were: educate for understanding of faith traditions outside of one's own; create opportunities for interfaith and cross-cultural dialogues; celebrate differences and raise awareness of the benefits gained in understanding and accepting differences; find ways to instill in young children the value of human life and human relations.
Participants' evaluations of the roundtable were positive, indicating a desire to learn more from the commission about hate crimes and human relations. Many were interested in becoming more involved in activities promoting interfaith and intercultural awareness.
Following the event, participant Danny Hall, director of the Peace and Community Relations Department for SGI-USA West Territory, remarked, "No community is free of hate crimes. This forum provided an opportunity for various religious groups to discuss better ways to proactively promote positive human relations in the community."
[Adapted from an article in the July 25, 2008 issue of the World Tribune, SGI-USA]