Issues

Interfaith dialogue

How do Christians today respond to people of different faiths?

CHURCH-Nicene creed

For many years, religion has been used to divide people. However, as Britain has become increasingly multicultural, there are more opportunities to build relationships with people from different faith backgrounds.  There is increasing interest in exploring the common ground between faiths – rather than simply marking what makes faiths distinct – and working together for the good of local communities and the UK as a whole. In recent years, specific organisations have been initiated to do just this.

 

The Christian Muslim Forum

The Christian Muslim Forum is built on friendships between members of the Christian and Islamic faith. In 1997, the then-Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey said:

“For the sake of the health of this country, we need to find ways in which members of our two communities can meet regularly together in a more structured way than has been possible up to now.”

The Christian Muslim Forum is made up of members of the Muslim and Christian communities – Sunni, Shi’a, Anglican, Catholic, Baptist, Pentecostal, Methodist and Coptic Orthodox – and includes various traditions, Evangelicals, Deobandis, Barelwis, Sufis. They believe that:

  • The time is right for Christians and Muslims to develop strong and committed relationships
  • They can work together for the benefit of both faith communities and wider society
  • Faith is a resource for peace, conflict resolution, understanding and the valuing of all human beings
  • Friendship between people of different faiths is encouraged by their traditions

 

International Council of Christians and Jews

This is an umbrella organisation that supports 38 Jewish-Christian organisations. According to its mission statement, it exists to:

Promote understanding and cooperation between Christians and Jews based on respect for each other’s identity and integrity;

Address issues of human rights and human dignity deeply enshrined in the traditions of Judaism and Christianity;

Counter all forms of prejudice, intolerance, discrimination, racism and the misuse of religion for national and political domination;

Affirm that in honest dialogue each person remains loyal to his or her own essential faith commitment, recognizing in the other person his or her integrity and otherness;

Coordinate worldwide activities through a programme of carefully structured conferences held regularly in different countries. The participants examine current issues across national and religious boundaries, enabling face-to-face exchanges of experience and expertise;

Encourage research and education at all levels, including universities and theological seminaries, to promote interreligious understanding among students, teachers, religious leaders, and scholars;

Perform outreach in regions that so far have little or no structured Jewish-Christian dialogue, such as Eastern Europe, Africa, and the Far East;

Provide a platform for wide-ranging theological debate in order to add a religious choice to the contemporary search for anwsers to existential and ethical challenges.

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