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Resolving conflicts between different religions

In March 2010, the Cross and the Crescent in Nigeria again fought against each other and over 500 people were killed. "At dawn, a militant group began to shoot around to get people out on the street, and then they drew their knives on those people," explained, Peter, one of the community members talking about the situation of the disaster in an interview with BBC. Most of the victims were children and women.

"This is presumed to be a revenge attack for the conflict in last January," BBC reported. The tension between the Cross and the Crescent in Nigeria has been seething for quite a while since the region became independent from England in 1960 and settled into different regions: the Cross at Southern area and the Crescent at Northern area. Today they constantly suffer from the fear of sudden attacks because of their different religions.

People at odds with others because of different religious beliefs are not unique to Nigeria; such conflicts can also be found not far from home.  Although not to the same degree, it may come as quite a shock that disharmony occurs here in Korea as well.

Pup Jeong, a Buddhist monk who died March 11th, became famous for not only his book titled "Non-possession" but his undying devotion to embrace different religions by the way of ultimate concord and special equilibrium. Together with Cardinal Stephen Kim Sou-hwan, South Korea’s first Roman Catholic cardinal, who died February 2009, Pup Jeong has contributed enormously to the peaceful coexistence of religious beliefs, such as his contribution in celebration of Christmas Day to a Catholic Newspaper Pyeong Hwa Shin Mun: "The birth of Christ is an escape from old life, as well as the beginning of new life." He sometimes quoted a short passage in the Bible and finished his writing with "Amen". He also presided over "How a religious person should behave for people and the nation" at Myeongdong Church during Korea’s IMF crisis. It is reported that his books were well received especially by Catholic nuns.

 Dongguk University looks to continue this message and is expected to keep the fire of harmony burning strong. Recently, the Buddhist Jogye Order and DU announced their mutual agreement that religious people including priests, preachers, and nuns along with monks could get medical expenses cut by 25% when using hospitals affiliated with Dongguk University.

According to the agreement, five affiliated hospitals including Ilsan hospital, Gyeongju hospital and Bundang oriental hospital will expand the benefits of religious people that were previously only given to monks with 15% expense cuts. This is unusual in the sense that most domestic hospitals that belong to certain religions do not give reductions of medical expenses to people with other religious beliefs.

 "Extending the mercy of Buddha will help others understand the founding tenets of Buddhism and will bring about harmony amongst different religions," said the Head of the Jogye Order. Jeong-Neon, the director of Dongguk University added, "Dongguk will cooperate with the Jogye Order to further help clerics of other religions beyond medical price cutting."

Yun Sang-young  letterbee@dongguk.edu

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