Philosophy and Style
Every interfaith group has its own philosophy and style. We assume that most of us know a lot more about our own faith traditions than we know about the faith traditions of others. We assume that when it comes to other religions, we all have a degree of prejudice or misunderstanding, even if very small. We also assume that healthy relationships among people of different faith backgrounds can help significantly in working through our different belief systems and religious practices.
Hanz Kung, the Catholic theologian, once said, “There will be no peace among the nations of the world until there is peace among the religions of the world.” What we do here in Washtenaw County is an effort in peacemaking, one person at a time, one group at a time, one congregation at a time.
Our intent is not to be a group that puts aside all our differences and tries to find the least common denominator for being in the same room. Our global vision is not to dream of a time where all religions are one, when there are no denominations and world religions have evolved into one religion. Instead, our goal is for all of us to be true to our own faith traditions while at the same time respecting, honoring and understanding all people and groups whose religious outlooks are different from our own.
Several key principles describe our style:
- Conversations and dialogue are essential to improving multi-religious relationships.
- When people from different religions come together, we put aside attempt to evangelize, missionize or proselytize.
- It is more useful to ask others “What is it about your religion or spiritual perspective brings you joy?” than to provoke an argument over doctrine and religious practices. Curiosity is preferred over criticism.
- Though many social issues have deep religious implications, our groups are not political action groups. We encourage individuals and congregations to advocate for causes, issues and conditions that are significant to them.
- When we are engaging others, we do our best to be true to our own religious identity, whether Buddhist or Baptist, Muslim or Mormon, Jew or Jain, etc. If necessary, agree to disagree, but do so with respect and a deeper understanding of different perspectives and belief systems.
- When we are in conversation with each other, we try to use language that includes other religious perspectives. For example, instead of speaking of “churches,” we would refer more often to “churches, synagogues, temples and mosques.”
- In our public gatherings, our desire is not to hold public worship services but instead sacred gatherings where any and all religious perspectives present are honored.
Our hope is to be able to move beyond just tolerance of other religious and spiritual perspectives to a place where we desire to know how other people view the world and where we genuinely value what others contribute to our lives.