During this harshly divided time in American history, it’s easy to write off those different from us as ‘The Other’ – whether they differ in gender, race, political affiliation or creed. Religious leaders in Oklahoma, however, can find similarities between one another. Whether they follow Christianity, Judaism, Islam or Buddhism, there is common ground. We share some of their views about unity, peace and commonality.


1. Barbara Prose 

Photo by Josh New

Executive minister, All Souls Unitarian Church, Tulsa

What are unifying qualities of global religions?

They describe and define an “essential human experience” as being inextricably part of all creation – of something tremendous and mysterious. Because this is true, we can better understand each other when we talk about our experiences, instead of discussing and debating our beliefs about those experiences. Our congregation is of many faiths and non-faiths. We come together in a promise to each other, to dwell together in peace and seek truth in love.

What does “peace on Earth” mean to you?

All Souls gives our offering to nonprofits and causes every Sunday. We do this so more babies will have clean diapers, more children will have enough food and a good education, more people will get health care and more elders will have adequate housing. Without the people’s basic needs being met – without justice – there can only be inner peace, not peace on Earth.

What do you want people to know about your religion? 

We affirm that we are all part of one human family and that we can love each other, beyond belief. We recognize and honor the dignity and worth of all people and live our faith every day of the week, doing the good works of this world with our hands and hearts. Love is the spirit of our church.

2. Thich Quang Hien

Photo by Josh New

President abbot, Tam Bao Buddhist Temple, Tulsa

What are unifying qualities of global religions?

Religions commonly promote a moral code or ethical principles to guide individuals and communities.

What does “peace on Earth” mean to you?

Peace on Earth means living in the present moment, being mindful of what you’re doing and doing your best to benefit you and others.

What do you want people to know about your religion?

Not to do any evil, to cultivate good deeds, to purify one’s mind: This is the teaching of the Buddha.

3. Keith M. Falk

Photo by Brent Fuchs

Senior pastor, Peace Lutheran Church, Edmond

What are unifying qualities of global religions?

The reality of a strength, force, power … something outside of us and beyond us. Most religions also have a tendency to want individuals to improve in some way. How, why and what that improvement looks like is where they begin to differ.

What does “peace on Earth” mean to you?

It does not mean that everyone will agree on all things at all times. However, it does mean that people would seek first to serve one another rather than their own interests and always strive to think and speak well of one another, even in the midst of disagreement.

What do you want people to know about your religion? 

Christians are not good or better people than anyone else. Rather, Christians are people who trust that in Jesus Christ, the Son, God Incarnate, our sins are freely and fully forgiven. There is no wrong so heinous that God cannot forgive and no person so perfect that they do not need a savior.

4. Imad Enchassi, Ph.D.

Photo by Brent Fuchs

Senior imam, Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City

What are unifying qualities of global religions?

The manifestation of rituals into meaningful actions toward the service of fellow human beings.

What does “peace on Earth” mean to you?

It starts with peace within us. It’s the feeling of contentment of a balanced society based upon justice for all of God’s creations.

What do you want people to know about your religion? 

The word Islam means “peace.” It encompasses inner peace, peace with others and peace (salvation) in the hereafter.

5. Michael Weinstein

Photo by Josh New

Senior rabbi, Temple Israel, Tulsa

What are unifying qualities of global religions?

Most religions carry a common set of ethical beliefs – a moral code, a spiritual guide to righteous living. While many religions have a doctrine through which a moral code is prescribed, our sages taught one universal concept foundational to righteous living:

That which is hateful to you, do not do to another … all the rest is interpretation.

What does “peace on Earth” mean to you?

Peace is an incredibly strong value within Jewish life. One such interpretation of an evening prayer from a modern prayer book reads as follows:

“Let there be love and understanding among us/Let peace and friendship be our shelter from life’s storms/God, help us to walk with good companions/To live with hope in our hearts and eternity in our thoughts/That we may lie down in peace and rise up waiting to do your will.”

What do you want people to know about your religion?

Judaism is a religion of hope, valuing family, truth and the promise of a better world for the generations to come. In partnership with God, our theology teaches that each day is a new opportunity to make this world a little better for everyone. Judaism is a religion whose focus is on righteous acts of giving through that daily renewal of creation. The obligation is incumbent upon each and every one of us to repair the world, through act and deed, for our children’s children.

6. Tom Gray

Photo by Brent Fuchs

President of the Oklahoma City stake, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

What are some unifying qualities of all global religions?

Religion encourages members to search for their better selves. This unifying element can knit our hearts and actions together as we strive to develop God-like qualities, such as giving aid to the needy and lifting the downtrodden. As we show empathy, compassion and charity to our fellow human beings, we are serving God and are given the courage to stand against evil.

What does “peace on Earth” mean to you?

Peace is often thought to be simply the absence of conflict, yet the “peace of God, which passeth all understanding” (Philippians 4:7) is an inner calm and comfort God gives to those who follow Him. God’s promise is to provide solace in the midst of trials and to heal our hearts through the atonement of Jesus Christ.

What do you want people to know about your religion?

As God’s eternal spirit children, we believe that families can be together forever and not simply “until death do us part.” We are disciples of Jesus Christ and seek to follow His invitation to “Come follow Me.” This means that we strive to become more like Him every day, more compassionate, more loving and more able to forgive.

7. Anthony Scott 

Photo by Josh New

Senior pastor, First Baptist Church North Tulsa

What are unifying qualities of global religions?

The acknowledgment of someone greater than ourselves, along with the universal idea that we are all tied together and equal as human beings. 

What does “peace on Earth” mean to you?

It equates to a harmonious friendship with God, demonstrated by a natural love for all God’s people.

What do you want people to know about your religion? 

I would say the unique element of Christianity I would most want to express is love for God, neighbor, self and even those who mistreat us.

8. Rob Blakely 

Photo by Brent Fuchs

Associate deacon, Saint Eugene Catholic Church, OKC 

What are unifying qualities of global religions?

Because God gives to all people life and breath and all things, and as savior wills that all men be saved, He is never far from those that seek Him. Because of this truth, and because of God’s guiding hand, we all seek to bring an end to injustice, to bring peace and to bring people to a relationship with their creator that will give true meaning to their lives.

What does “peace on Earth” mean to you?

When people finally see the face of God in each other and treat each other accordingly. There can be no “peace on Earth” without loving one another the way that God loves us.

What do you want people to know about your religion?

The Catholic Church is truly universal. Because we are a worldwide church, all cultures are represented. Each parish has its own culture, derived from the many varied cultures of its members, and everyone can find a home where they are comfortable and welcome within God’s family.

9. Amy Venable

Photo by Josh New

Minister of pastoral care, hospital visitation, homebound and care ministries, Boston Avenue United Methodist Church, Tulsa

What are unifying qualities of global religions?

I think of my friend John Wooley, who quoted his friend Barry Friedman as saying that even though he’s not a religious person, the idea of people styling their agendas for an hour a week to think about the greater good is really inspiring. All religions share in the emphasis on looking outside oneself for direction, caring for one’s fellow person and living life with humility. 

What does “peace on Earth” mean to you?

To wish that peace would be upon the Earth would be the wish for all war to cease. We dream of a world where people can move about their days feeling safe, and people would not be tempted to kill or to steal because everyone would have enough. In other words, everyone would have “shalom.” 

What do you want people to know about your religion?

I tire of the preconception that religious people are sticks-in-the-mud who don’t enjoy life. I wish people would know that Christianity is not supposed to be a religion of judgment and condemnation of others, but rather a religion where we celebrate Christ’s presence in our lives and Christ’s love for us and desire that we live life abundantly. 

10. Sandhya Reddy

Photo by Josh New

Chair, Hindu Temple of Greater Tulsa

What are unifying qualities of global religions?

All religions have the same core message: Be a decent human being and know there is a greater force than we can possibly imagine that guides us in our lives. Educate yourselves in different faiths and be willing to accept that the basic principles that guide us are the same – different languages of the same message.

What does “peace on Earth” mean to you?

“Peace within me, around me and in all beings.” This is possible when we all are grateful for all we are blessed with and accept people for their differences and know that the only constant in life is change. Knowing we are all created in the image of a supreme spirit teaches us to accept all. 

What do you want people to know about your religion?

Hinduism, the oldest known religion, is democratic and accepting of all faiths. We aim to live life righteously, not to be judgmental and to know that all faiths are the same; no religion is superior to the others. The law of karma (consequences to one’s actions) applies to all; we are solely responsible for our actions … hence the consequences. Living life on the path of dharma (righteousness) ends the cycle of life and death (reincarnation) to attain moksha [the state attained as a result of being released from the cycle of rebirth].  

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