real
time web analytics
  • Good inter faith relations are vital to the wellbeing of our society

Overview

Building good inter faith relations and promoting cross-faith cooperation was once seen as a marginal pursuit – an ‘added extra’. Today. there is increasing recognition that it is vital to the wellbeing of our society.

Effective engagement between people of different backgrounds contributes to the development of a peaceful and just society in which people of different faiths and beliefs coexist harmoniously and work together for the common good.   The kind of principles of engagement encouraged through IFN and its member bodies can be found in its code,  Building Good Relations with People of Different Faiths and Beliefs.

An increasingly wide pattern of initiatives can be found across the UK at local, regional and national level and inter faith approaches are developing in many contexts such as chaplaincy, education, youth work and media. There are also longstanding bodies such as the Council of Christians and Jews, International Association of Religious Freedom, Religions for Peace (UK) and World Congress of Faiths.

Today in the UK, many national faith communities actively support inter faith activity. There are inter faith linking structures at the UK level (for example IFN) and at national level in Northern Ireland, Scotlandand Wales. Within England there are multi faith forums at regional level in some regions. 

There is also a developing dialogue in many contexts between those of religious and non-religious beliefs. Sometimes this takes place within inter faith organisations whose initial focus was those of religious beliefs, and sometimes this takes place through different forums.

  • The work of UK, national and regional inter faith bodies

    There is now a wide range of UK-wide, national and regional bodies now working to promote inter faith engagement and practical cooperation in the UK. These are:

    • Inter faith bodies operating programmes of work extending to one or more of the nations of the UK
    • The national inter faith linking bodies of the UK, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales
    • Regional faith forums and specialist inter faith centres

    These run a wide range of programmes, such as:

    • bilateral and trilateral dialogue
    • multi faith arts and cultural programmes
    • cooperative social action projects
    • provide a multi faith policy sounding board for public agencies and a chance to engage in dialogue with these
    • support for inter faith work in school
    • work on university and college campuses
    • Some national and regional inter faith bodies have a particular focus such as peace and reconciliation work or training for religious literacy. Most are multi faith in their scope but a number have a primary focus on a particular dialogue: for example, Christian-Jewish or Hindu-Christian or 'Abrahamic'. Many welcome individuals as members. You can find out more about those in membership of IFN here.

    Note: The term 'national' has a number of meanings in the UK context. It is often used interchangeably to mean 'UK-wide' as well as with reference to one of the four nations which make up the UK, particularly the three nations with devolved governmental powers independent of Westminster: Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

  • Inter faith engagement at local level

    Local inter faith initiatives draw together people from different faith traditions in a particular area. They play a very important role in creating opportunities for learning and cooperation in their local communities.  Check the locator to find out if there is one in your area.

    Local groups vary considerably in their makeup and focus.  There is no one set model. They may be:

    • Groups with a wide range of activities such as dialogue, education, social events and civic engagement
    • Dialogue groups, bringing people together from different communities to discuss and share ideas related to their various faith traditions, on a formal or informal, ad hoc basis
    • Forums established to provide faith representation to local authorities or Local Strategic Partnerships with a formalised structure and recognised voice in a particular local authority area, often with membership on a representative basis
    • Faith leaders' groups
    • Social action initiatives, working together across different faiths on practical projects relating to their local community

    In addition to these, nearly all initiatives are involved in helping to raise the profile of inter faith cooperation and understanding within their own faith communities and the wider local area.

  • Faith community bodies and inter faith work

    Local faith groups participate in inter faith activity in many different ways: from formal engagement in local councils of faiths or in civic events and projects through to visits to each other's places of worship, open door days and joint dialogue, learning or social action projects.

    Most religious traditions have regional, national and, in some cases, UK-wide structures. These often play an important role in helping the development of inter faith understanding and cooperation in the UK. They may do so through such routes as:

    • Developing strategies for engaging with other faith communities at national level - through their inter faith sections and also through other areas of their work, such as faith and public life.
    • Modelling relationships - through leading clergy and lay members taking part in high profile national inter faith events or visibly taking part in particular campaigns or projects alongside those of other faiths.
    • Establishing the basis for inter faith engagement - research, dialogue and teaching about the theological and doctrinal bases in the tradition in question for engaging with other faiths; also continuing contribution to relevant guidance being produced globally or ecumenically.
    • Developing resources for inter faith engagement - to explain the basis in their own faith traditions for engagement with people of other faiths - producing guidelines and providing training for their members in engaging with inter faith issues. 
    • Offering relevant training - to clergy and laity.
    • Providing personal support and advice - through personnel such as inter faith officers or specialist volunteers.