Tag Archives: Inter-faith

Vive les différences

Winston Churchill made a speech in the cabinet before declaring: “Well, gentlemen, I think we can all agree on this course.” Attlee politely but effectively responded, “You know, prime minister, a monologue by you does not necessarily spell agreement.” I have never been a supporter of Attlee’s political creed, but he set a good example of how to do politics in a democracy facing a crisis.

During my last fifteen years in the day job, with a small specialist team, I was responsible for helping local churches strengthen relationships with other faiths, particularly after the 2001 Bradford riots, which I observed at close quarters. Interfaith dialogue is a little too pretentious a label to describe what we did. It was rather more about interfaith conversation and deliberately shared experiences as human beings. Anyone who has gone beyond dipping their toes into this particular pond (which in our city includes the Humanists these days), soon realises that this sort of activity is not primarily about looking for similarities amongst different faiths. It is about gaining a clearer appreciation of the differences. Time and time again, I have heard people say that it has helped them understand their tradition better. In the quest for human solidarity, celebrating diversity is infinitely more satisfying than blurring differences.

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