Multi-faith forums encouraged

Religion is often regarded as a source of conflict. Last month, through the Consortium for Peace Studies, peace studies fellow Adam Dinham explored the role of religion in creating a path to peace through multi-faith forums.

“Over the last decade, we’ve been struck by increasing interest in faith in the UK,” said Dinham during his presentation. “Many multi-faith forums in England have existed for a decade or more but some have come into existence more recently in response to government interest in religious faith. All have recast themselves to some extent in order to be able to facilitate relationships between government and faith communities more strongly.”

Dinham hopes to bring strategies currently used by English multi-faith forums to Canada. However, he recognized the challenges of importing ideas tailored to a distinct region.

“The purposes of multi-faith forums differ from region to region in response to demographics, religious diversity, the socio-economic situation of areas, the will and interest of regional and local government structures, as well as national, and the varying presence of facilitative people, groups and organizations.”

Dinham regards multi-faith forums as the best approach to take to encourage multi-faith peace because they are “Participative and safe.” But the major setback Dinham sees in these forums is that they are not fully representative.

“They cannot represent the full range of communities and outlooks which exist. They are at their best when they think of themselves as participative networks — voluntary spaces for people of faith to work collaboratively, motivated by their distinctive traditions, for public service.”

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