Lord Jonathan Sacks, Britain’s former chief Rabbi was awarded the 2016 Templeton Prize for his work in promoting inter-faith toleration and a dialogue between religion and science.
Jennifer Simpson, chair of the Templeton Foundation’s Board of Trustees, said that the award recognised Lord Sacks’s response to the challenge posed by radicalisation and extremism.
“Lord Sacks has always been ahead of his time and, thanks to his leadership, the world can look to the future with hope, something we are very much in need of right now.”
A prolific writer, Sacks recently published Not in God’s Name: Confronting Religious Violence in which he wrote of the need to counter religious extremism.
He has said that extremism must be met with “a message of love as powerful as the message being delivered by the preachers of hate,” adding, “it really has to speak to young people and we have to use the same social networking, the same technology as the extremists and we’ve got to do it as well and better than they do.”
Simpson said that Sacks “has always been ahead of his time and, thanks to his leadership, the world can look to the future with hope, something we are very much in need of right now. Religion, or more precisely, religions, should have a voice in the public conversation within the societies of the West, as to how to live, how to construct a social order, how to enhance human dignity, honour human life, and indeed protect life as a whole.”
The Templeton Foundation also said that he “built a network of organizations that introduced a Jewish focus in areas including business, women’s issues and education, and urged British Jewry to turn outward to share the ethics of their faith with the broader community.”
Sacks was a frequent contributor to BBC’s “Thought for the Day”. Following the Paris attacks he spoke of reconciling the Two Faces of Religion.