Faith plays many roles in the world, but perhaps none so immediately important—to believers and non-believers alike—than its ability to promote peace and understanding, or to undermine it. We have asked our panel of global experts to weigh in on this aspect of faith in the modern world.

For many, religion is more a matter of identity than of belief. The focus is on what you wear, what you eat, or whom you marry. As such, religion is seldom the primary cause of conflict but can add to hostility. You may be killed because you are uncircumcised, but not because of what you actually believe in. When conflict starts—besides caring for the injured and refugees, protecting non-combatants, counteracting propaganda, and calling for peace—there is little a religion can do.

Communities of faith acting together, however, can play a vital role in...

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