The mainly Islamic leaders made their landmark decision after attending a three-day Ambassadors for Peace (www.am4peace.com), gathering in the capital city of Jakarta, and which ended on Sunday, September 28, 2014.
During this unique gathering, they openly discussed how it might be possible that people like themselves could live in peace with others "with complete free and open dialogue" despite not having the same religious beliefs.
The delegation from the religious freedom organization, was led by co-founder, Dr. Garry Ansdell, senior pastor of Hosanna Christian Fellowship in Bellflower, California, who already has shared the AM4Peace distinctive message in many countries such as Egypt, Bahrain, Kuwait, Syria, and Morocco.
Ansdell founded the group with the late Ameal Haddad, an Arab pastor originally from the Middle East, who sadly had passed away shortly before this trip, that he had helped to plan, could take place. (His photograph was on prominent display during the meeting of these mainly Islamic leaders from various groups within Indonesia, which just happens to be the world's largest Muslim nation.)
He was joined by Southern California businessman, Javier Aguayo, who is also a board member of Ambassadors for Peace, and myself. We joined with Ansdell by speaking on several occasions, and had both previously traveled to Indonesia during an earlier visit with the group.
"This is a once in a life opportunity for us to share with religious leaders who desire to see religious freedom spelled out for all," Dr. Ansdell told the delegates.
"We all have a divine right to believe in God and, acknowledging our differences, gives an honest approach to dialogue instead of pretending we all believe the same way."
Ambassadors for Peace was created shortly after the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City on September 11, 2001, when Ansdell and Haddad, both from Bellflower, California, began responding to Muslim and other leaders who, like them, thought there was a desperate need to codify and discuss in "open dialogue, the differences and similarities of their faith and give dignity and respect to each other."
Since that time, they have been leading the way internationally for many key members of different religious beliefs to come into agreement for a Religious Rights Resolution. The document's main theme is to "foster religious tolerance, the right to faith, freedom of speech, and freedom from reprisal or persecution, and open dialogue."
Ansdell went on to say, "Religious rights have a place in the workplace, community and between institutions and most importantly between individuals. This document puts in writing what people of religious beliefs already know to be true and necessary.
"The United Nations in Article 18 of its Declaration of Human rights has established the freedom of religion in all countries. This resolution spells out the application of that for the individual from all faiths in all countries."
Ansdell, who was once an atheist, acknowledges that people also have the right "not to believe."
At the final session, where each delegate gave their thoughts on how they could proceed, Ansdell suggested that the attendees use social media to present the message of "religious freedom" and he added, "They should also judge people by their character, not their religion."
He then said, "We can respect each other despite our differences. We have different religions and we need to be able to discuss them openly, but the overall message is love. You came here with open hearts from the beginning. Don't underestimate what you have discussed and let people know. Have your own meetings, and set up a time when you can get together with others—men and women, children—so you can share with them what we have discussed here. (Photo via ANS)
"Also, write to your religious and political leaders and share with them what we have talked about and let them know what this is all about. If you talk to 10 people and one of them wants to know more, you have succeeded. We also want to meet with world leaders like Putin and the Pope, to share this concept with them.
"We need to keep hope alive. There is so much destruction in our world today. The Middle East is in chaos, and I really believe, with all my heart, that this is the platform for order and respect to be shared and ministered to that part of the world."
The gathering was also put together by Ismail Alatas, who runs an Arabic newspaper in Indonesia, and told the group that he became involved because he had searched the Internet and "had never heard before of anyone doing this kind of peace work before."
He told the group, "We are ready to do your plan here in Indonesia, and help forward religious freedom in our country."
Ambassadors for Peace has now provided its own "Bill of Rights." Lives are lost each day to the fanaticism of religion, and every generation has seen it and no religion can look at its history and be without blame. It is time for the moorings of religion to be acknowledged globally. They should not be politicized nor ignored. Every mainline religious leader of all faiths speak of the peace that their people want. The "Religious Freedom Resolution" gives individuals and leaders the opportunity to come together, not as one religion, but for the freedom of all religions.
To find out more, the US site is can be found at www.am4peace.com, and Indonesian website is at www.am4peace-indonesia.com.