The environmentalist group, Friends of the Middle East is currently doing a faith-based initiative to clean and preserve the Jordan River, one which is crucial to so many religions in the area. This effort is aiming to bring together the three Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Islam, and Christianity) in the area to not only see their similarities, but combine their resources to preserve a river which is so important to all of them.
The fact of the matter is that the Jordan River is far more polluted than any religion wants to admit. According to a Huffington Post article the river is no longer suited for baptisms, due to “severe mismanagement.” Pollution and agricultural runoff stay in the water and flow through the river, making any sort of activities in the river like swimming or baptisms potentially dangerous for the thousands of pilgrims who come each year. This is a devastating blow for the religions, especially Christianity who believes Jesus to have been baptized in that water centuries ago. However all of the Abrahamic religions see the importance and worth of the river, making it’s cleanliness a serious topic for religions.
What this organization is doing is truly phenomenal. In an area of the world where the climate is one of religious tension rather than cooperation, this group is encouraging religions to see the shared value in the environment that they live in and worship in. By making this issue one that is important for everyone to talk about and making a difference, it is also opening the doors for more religious dialogue and cooperation in the future. It is my hope that more groups in the Middle East follow suit, making religious dialogue the norm.