This compendium of concise and handy resources provides insight into the interfaith movement and its treasure chest of wisdom and learning opportunities. The collection explores the goals, types and stages of dialogue and touches on issues such as interfaith etiquette, listening, peace-building, hospitality, respectful presence and dialogue-versus-debate. These principles and guidelines are useful for those who are new to interfaith as well as for veterans of interfaith work.

  1. Dialogue Principles
  2. Three Goals of Interreligious Dialogue
  3. Principles towards Better Interfaith Relations
  4. Four Levels of Interreligious Dialogue
  5. Five Types of Interreligious Dialogue
  6. Assisi Decalogue for Peace
  7. The Seven Stages of Deep-Dialogue
  8. Dialogue vs Debate
  9. Dialogue is not debate
  10. Nine Guidelines for Listening to Others
  11. Compassionate Listening
  12. Guidelines for organizing interfaith meetings
  13. Ten Things You Can Do to Support Interfaith Peacemaking and Collaborative Action
  14. Interfaith Lessons I Have Learned
  15. Ten Rules for Interfaith dialogue
  16. Guidelines for Interreligious Understanding
  17. Purpose and Principles of the United Religions Initiative (URI)
  18. Essentials for formatting a mission statement for Interfaith Studies at the university or college level
  19. The Language of Interfaith Conversation
  20. Rights, Responsibilities and Skills of Dialogue
  21. A Safe Place to Address Prejudice, Stereotypes and Fears
  22. One Muslim’s Interfaith Resolutions
  23. Tips for interfaith families: How to make a seder inclusive
  24. A Declaration of Interdependence
  25. Why Interfaith dialogue Doesn’t Work – and What We can Do About It


Dialogue Principles

Dr. Leonard Swidler is a highly respected American scholar in the field of interfaith dialogue. Dr. Swidler has published this set of ten inter-religious principles which have become a classic.  Below please find this “dialogue decalogue” in both Short and Long versions.





The primary purpose of dialogue is to learn; that is, to change and grow in the perception and understanding of reality, and then to act accordingly.


Inter-religious, inter-ideological dialogue must be a two-sided project within each religious or ideological community and between religious or ideological communities.


Each participant must come to the dialogue with complete honesty and sincerity.


In inter-religious, inter-ideological dialogue we must not compare our ideals with our partner’s practice, but rather our ideals with our partner’s ideals, our practice with our partner’s practice.


Each participant must define himself… Conversely, the interpreted must be able to recognize herself in the interpretation.


Each participant must come to the dialogue with no hard-ançl-fast assumptions as to where the points of disagreement are.


Dialogue can take place only between equals… Both must come to learn from each other.


Dialogue can take place only on the basis of mutual trust.


Persons entering into inter-religious, inter-ideological dialogue must be at least minimally self-critical of both themselves and their own religious or ideological traditions.


Each participant eventually must attempt to experience the partner’s religion or ideology ‘from within’; for a religion or ideology is not merely something of the head, but also of the spirit, heart, and ‘whole being,’ individual and communal.


Website of Dr. Swidler’s Dialogue Institute in Philadelphia, USA:





The essential purpose of a dialogue is to learn, which entails change. At the very least, to learn that one’s dialogue partner views the world differently is to effect a change in oneself. Reciprocally, change happens for one’s partner as she/he learns about oneself.


Dialogue must be a two-sided project: both between religious/ideological groups (Inter- and Intra-). Intra-religious/ideological dialogue is vital for moving one’s community toward an increasingly perceptive insight into reality.


It is imperative that each participant comes to the dialogue with complete honesty and sincerity. This means not only describing the major and minor thrusts as well as potential future shifts of one’s tradition, but also possible difficulties that she/he has with it.



One must compare only her/his ideals with their partner’s ideals, and her/his practice with their partner’s practice. Not their ideals with their partner’s practice.


Each participant needs to describe her/himself. For example, only a Muslim can describe what it really mans to be an authentic member of the Muslim community. At the same time, when one’s partner in dialogue attempts to describe back to them what they have understood of their partner’s self-description, then such a description must be recognizable to the described party.


Participants must not come to the dialogue with any preconceptions as to where the points of disagreement lie. A process of agreeing with their partner as much as possible, without violating the integrity of their own tradition, will reveal where the real boundaries between the traditions lie; the point where she / he cannot agree without going against the principle of their own tradition. 


Dialogue can only take place between equals, which means that partners learn from each other – par cum pari according to the Second Vatican Council – and do not merely seek to teach one another.


Dialogue can only take place on the basis of mutual trust. Because it is persons, and not entire communities, that enter into dialogue, it is essential for personal trust to be established. To encourage this it is important that less controversial matters are discussed before dealing with the more controversial ones.


Participants in dialogue should have a healthy level of criticism toward their own traditions. A lack of such criticism implies that one’s tradition has all the answers, thus making dialogue not only unnecessary, but unfeasible. The primary purpose of dialogue is to learn, which is impossible if one’s tradition is seen as having all the answers.


To truly understand another religion or ideology one must try to experience it from within, which requires a “passing over”, even if only momentarily, into another’s religious or ideological experience.



Website of Dr. Swidler’s Dialogue Institute in Philadelphia, USA:


Three Goals of Interreligious Dialogue

  1. To know oneself ever more profoundly and enrich and round out one’s appreciation of one’s own faith tradition
  2. To know the other ever more authentically and gain a friendly understanding of others as they are and not in caricature
  3. To live ever more fully accordingly and to establish a more solid foundation for community of life and action among persons of various traditions

(Leonard Swidler, Toward a Universal Theology of Religion, p. 26)


Principles towards Better Interfaith Relations

  1. We confess our failures and lack of love, respect and sensitivity to people of other faiths in the past. We intend to forgive one another, seek the forgiveness of others and commit ourselves to a new beginning.
  2. We affirm that good interfaith relations can open the way to better interethnic relations and peace throughout the world.
  3. We recognise building true community (koinonia) , both among persons and various ethnic and religious communities, as our primary objective. We need to develop a global theology that will be appropriate for the unfolding sense of a globalised world.
  4. We affirm the importance of promoting a culture of dialogue within and among all religious communities and indigenous traditions.
  5. We condemn violence and terrorism as being against the spirit of all true religion and we pledge ourselves to removing their causes.
  6. We shall respect the integrity of all religions and ensure that they have the freedom to follow their own beliefs and practices.
  7. We believe that the different religions are enriched by identifying agendas in which they can collaborate, such as making peace, protecting the environment, eradicating poverty and ensuring the human dignity of all.
  8. We affirm that it is important for us all to listen to and learn from other religions so that we can value religious plurality as a factor that enriches our communities.
  9. We endeavour to live out and explain the truths of our own religion in a manner that is intelligible and friendly to people of other faiths.
  10. Cultural diversity as well as religious diversity in our communities will be affirmed as a source of enrichment and challenge.

Prepared by the Rt Rev. Kenneth Fernando for the Network of Interfaith Concerns of the Anglican Communion



Four Levels of Interreligious Dialogue

  1. The dialogue of life, where people strive to live in an open and neighborly spirit, sharing their joy and sorrows, their human problems and preoccupations.
  2. The dialogue of action, in which persons of all religions collaborate for the integral development and liberation of people.
  3. The dialogue of theological exchange, where specialists seek to deepen their understanding of their respective religious heritages, and to appreciate each other’s spiritual values.
  4. The dialogue of religious experience, where persons, rooted in their own religious traditions, share their spiritual riches, for instance with regard to prayer and contemplation, faith and ways of searching for God or the Absolute.

(M. Thomas Thangaraj, The Common Task: A Theology of Christian Mission, Abingdon Press, Nashville, 1999, pp. 95, 96.)




Five Types of Interreligious Dialogue

  1. Informational: Acquiring of knowledge of the faith partner’s religious history, founding, basic beliefs, scriptures, etc.
  2. Confessional: Allowing the faith partners to speak for and define themselves in terms of what it means to live as an adherent.
  3. Experiential: Dialogue with faith partners from within the partner’s tradition, worship and ritual – entering into the feelings of one’s partner and permitting that person’s symbols and stories to guide.
  4. Relational: Develop friendships with individual persons beyond the “business” of dialogue.
  5. Practical: Collaborate to promote peace and justice.



Assisi Decalogue for Peace

During the interfaith prayer service at Assisi (2002), ten of the 200 faith representatives each read one of the following ten commitments in their own language. In March, Pope John Paul II sent a copy of the Decalogue for Peace to all heads of state. In an accompanying letter, the Pope stated that the participants at the Assisi gathering were inspired more than ever by one common conviction — humanity must choose between love and hatred.

  1. We commit ourselves to proclaiming our firm conviction that violence and terrorism are opposed to all true religious spirit and we condemn all recourse to violence and war in the name of God or religion. We undertake to do everything possible to eradicate the causes of terrorism.
  2. We commit ourselves to educate people about respect and mutual esteem in order to achieve peaceful coexistence and solidarity among members of different ethnic groups, cultures and religions.
  3. We commit ourselves to promote the culture of dialogue so that understanding and trust may develop among individuals and peoples as these are the conditions of authentic peace.
  4. We commit ourselves to defend the right of all human beings to lead a dignified life, in accordance with their cultural identity.
  5. We commit ourselves to engage in dialogue with sincerity and patience, without considering what separates us as an insurmountable wall, on the contrary, recognizing that facing our differences can become an occasion for greater reciprocal understanding.
  6. We commit ourselves to pardon each other’s errors and prejudices of the past and present, and to support one another in the common struggle against egoism and abuses, hatred and violence, and in order to learn from the past that peace without justice is not true peace.
  7. We commit ourselves to stand at the side of those who suffer poverty and abandonment, speaking out for those who have no voice and taking concrete action to overcome such situations, in the conviction that no one can be happy alone.
  8. We commit ourselves to make our own the cry of those who do not surrender to violence and evil, and we wish to contribute with all our strength to give a real hope of justice and peace to the humanity of our time.
  9. We commit ourselves to encourage all initiatives that promote friendship between peoples, in the conviction that, if a solid understanding between peoples is lacking, technological progress exposes the world to increasing dangers of destruction and death.
  10. We commit ourselves to ask the leaders of nations to make every possible effort so as to build, at both national and international levels, a world of solidarity and peace founded on justice.


The Seven Stages of Deep-Dialogue

By Paul Mojzes and Leonard Swidler

Outlined below are seven stages that many people experience in the process of dialogue with other religions and cultures.

Stage One          Radical Encountering of Difference

Early encounters with those of other religions are inherently challenging and even threatening as I face a new worldview, a new way of interpreting reality, and new ways of responding that are clearly other. I am tempted to appropriate the other to my own worldview. I soon realize that this disruption to my worldview and ways of responding won’t go away, nor will it accommodate my own worldview and ways of responding. I may be tempted to withdraw from the situation, only to discover that my place in society may not allow for such withdrawal. The decision to proceed moves me on into the second stage.

Stage Two          Crossing Over — Letting Go and Entering the World of the Other

As I make the decision to engage the world of the other sincerely, I find myself called to explore, to learn anew, and to reassess my norms regarding adequate and appropriate expressions of values, and to critique my traditional attitudes. I find that I need to approach the new worldview with openness and a bracketing of my stereotypes and prejudices. As I do this, I find myself moving into stage three.

Stage Three          Inhabiting and Experiencing the World of the Other

The experience of empathy and interest then expands into a sense of freedom that opens doors to learn many things from this other world: what is of greatest importance, modalities of interaction, what causes suffering to those in this world. As I experiment with integrating ways of thinking and acting in light of my discoveries, I sense an excitement and a deepening relationship with those of this world. At a certain point, after I have gained some competence in negotiating this environment, I discover that this is not my true home. This moves me into the fourth stage.

Stage Four          Crossing Back with an Expanded Vision

The new knowledge I have gained in alternative ways of thinking and acting is now part of my repertoire as I regain my sense of belonging in my own world. I am able to think and act from both perspectives as the context may require. My own sense of identity has deepened, has changed, and no matter what choices I freely make to believe and to act, I can no longer assume that my former unilateral way of being in the world is the only way. My attitudes and concerns are irrevocably reshaped to hold the other in view, in relationship. This moves me into stage five.

Stage Five          The Dialogic Awakening — A Radical Paradigm Shift

I experience a profound shift in my worldview as well as expanded consciousness of concerns and needs and causes of dysfunction in world realities and viable ways of human response. I can no longer return to my former worldview that did not have a place for this other. Further, I am irrevocably shaped to the possibility that there is a plurality of viable worldviews, concerns, and human responses. This changes my sense of myself. I become aware of the interconnectedness of myself and many/all others, including Earth and all her needs and potentials. This awakening is what moves me into the sixth stage.

Stage Six          Global Awakening — The Paradigm Shift Matures

This stage of Deep-Dialogue opens me to the common ground that underlies the multiple worlds with which I am surrounded. I can perceive that the unique differences essential to these worlds are contained in a field of unity. My own inner world is now apparent as a range of perspectives and unique to myself. I am increasingly open to dialogue with others in my various communities of life, to a transformed relationship with them and an embrace of the context in which these communities are situated. There is for me an expanding world of communities of life with greater potential for ongoing dialogue, new learning, and deepened relationships. This moves me to stage seven.

Stage Seven          Personal and Global Transforming of Life and Behaviour

One of the most significant transformations that has taken place on this journey is a greater and more encompassing moral consciousness and ensuing practice. The communion that I experience with all — self, others, and the Earth — is profound. I sense that my care for myself, instead of being in competition with concerns for the welfare of other realities, is integral to the care of the whole. As I come to deeper self-realization and greater self-fulfillment, I experience deeper meaning in relationships and in my whole life.

Paul Mojzes is an American professor of religious studies.

Leonard Swidler is an American professor of ecumenical and interfaith studies.



Dialogue vs Debate


Dialogue is the understanding of myself and others.


Debate is the successful argument of my position over that of an opponent.


I listen openly and compassionately with the view that I want to understand.
I listen in order to counter what I hear, and am closed to new ideas.


I listen for strengths, so I can affirm and learn, and to hear other viewpoints.
I listen for weakness, so I can discount and devalue what I hear.


I speak for myself using my own experiences and understanding, and examine my own assumptions.
I speak based on my own assumptions about others’ experiences and motives, in an effort to prove that I am right.


I ask questions to increase understanding, and am willing to temporarily suspend my beliefs.
I ask questions in order to control the conversation, or to confuse: I look for ways to affirm my own beliefs or “win.”


I allow others to complete their communications.
I interrupt or change the subject.


I concentrate on others’ words, feelings, body language, and other modes of communication.
I focus on the point I want to make next.


I respect others’ experiences as true and valid for them, and want to work with others to come to new understandings.
I critique others’ experiences as distorted or invalid or wrong.


I respect the expression of feelings in myself and others.
I distrust the expression of feelings as manipulative or less than legitimate.


I honor silence.
I am anxious in silence or use it to gain advantage.


I look for ways to keep the conversation going, even in conflict.
I look for ways to end the conversation, when I am uncomfortable.


Excerpted from Interfaith Peacemaking Curriculum

Published by Abrahamic Faiths Peacemaking Initiative

Reprinted with permission.



Dialogue is not Debate

Debate is oppositional: two or more sides oppose each other and attempt to prove each other wrong. Dialogue is collaborative: two or more sides work together toward a common understanding.

In debate one searches for the other positions flaws and weaknesses. In dialogue one searches for strengths in the other position.

Debate creates a closed-minded attitude, a determination to be right. Dialogue creates an open-minded attitude, an openness to being wrong and an openness to change.

In debate winning is the goal. In dialogue finding common ground is the goal.

Debate defends one’s position as the best solution and excludes other positions. Dialogue opens up the possibility of reaching a better solutions than any of the original solutions.

Debate assumes there is a right answer and that someone has it. Dialogue assumes many people have pieces of the answer and that together they can put them into a workable solution.

Debate implies conclusion. Dialogue remains open-ended.



Nine Guidelines for Listening to Others

These guidelines were developed by Kay Lindahl, the founder of the Listening Center in Laguan Niguel, California. Kay is also the chairperson of the North American Interfaith Network (NAIN).

We include these guidelines here because listening is so vital to any form of dialogue, including interfaith dialogue. These guidelines are designed to facilitate healthy dialogue and deep listening and to create a safe space for meaningful conversation on all levels:

  1. WHEN YOU ARE LISTENING, SUSPEND ASSUMPTIONS – What we assume is often invisible to us. We assume that others have had the same experiences that we have, and that is how we listen to them. Learn to recognize assumptions by noticing when you get upset or annoyed by something someone else is saying. You may be making an assumption. Let it be – suspend it – and resume listening for understanding of the other.
  2. WHEN YOU ARE SPEAKING, EXPRESS YOUR PERSONAL RESPONSE – informed by your tradition, beliefs and practices as you have interpreted them in your life. Speak for yourself. Use “I’ language. Take ownership of what you say. Speak from your heart. Notice how often the phrases “We all”, “of course”, “everyone says”, “you know”, come into your conversation. The only person you can truly speak for is yourself.
  3. LISTEN WITHOUT JUDGMENT – The purpose of dialogue is to come to an understanding of the other, not to determine whether they are good, bad, right or wrong. If you are sitting there thinking: ‘That’s good”, ‘That’s bad”, “I like that” “I don’t like that”, then you are having a conversation in your own mind, rather than listening to the speaker. Simply notice when you do this, and return to being present with the speaker.
  4. SUSPEND STATUS – Everyone is an equal partner in the inquiry. There is no seniority or hierarchy. All are colleagues with a mutual quest for insight and clarity. You are each an expert in your life. That is what you bring to the dialogue process.
  5. HONOUR CONFIDENTIALITY – Leave the names of participants in the room so if you share stories or ideas, no one’s identity will be revealed. Create a safe space for self-expression.
  6. LISTEN FOR UNDERSTANDING, NOT TO AGREE WITH OR BELIEVE – You do not have to agree with or believe anything that is said. Your job is to listen for understanding.
  7. ASK CLARIFYING OR OPEN-ENDED QUESTIONS to assist your understanding and to explore assumptions.
  8. HONOUR SILENCE AND TIME FOR REFLECTION – Notice what wants to be said rather than what you want to say.
  9. ONE PERSON SPEAKS AT A TIME – Pay attention to the flow of the conversation. Notice what patterns emerge from the group. Make sure that each person has an opportunity to speak, while knowing that no one is required to speak.



Compassionate Listening

Some Assumptions
A First Step Toward Interfaith Dialogue

  1. Compassionate Listening assumes that before authentic dialogue can occur, conflicting parties must first listen to each other. We cannot assume that we really know how it is to be another.
  2. Compassionate Listening does not seek to change the other, but to love them. The more a person is loved, the more they are free to respond to inner truth.
  3. Compassion Listening assumes that to build peace we need to acknowledge the humanity and the suffering of the other. Misunderstanding, conflicts, and violence are the result of unhealed wounds.
  4. Compassionate Listening trusts that when people truly feel heard, they will be more open to hearing the stories of those with whom they disagree.
  5. Compassionate Listening is a practice of reconciliation, and is thus based in the belief that mutual understanding and respect are the foundations for building communities across the borders of difference.

Excerpted from Interfaith Peacemaking Curriculum

Published by Abrahamic Faiths Peacemaking Initiative

Reprinted with permission.


Guidelines for organizing interfaith meetings

  • Provide appropriate and comfortable meeting space for the group.
  • Arrange space to allow for democratic participation; be aware of the access needs and dietary restrictions of faith group members.
  • Arrive in advance of participants so hospitality is ready and available when participants begin to arrive.
  • Have sufficient supplies and copies of materials available for participants in advance.
  • Allow adequate time for introductions and use nametags until members are known to the leaders and each other.
  • Commit to beginning and ending sessions on time.
  • Build the community. Include opening and closing exercises that help participants to get to know the other members of the group.
  • Create a climate that supports prayer and reflection. Use the prayers and rituals of various traditions to support learning. Allow time and space for silence as well as for speaking.
  • Remind participants that dialogue is as much (perhaps more) about listening as it is about speaking. Practice listening skills with the group if necessary. Insist that put-downs of people or their feelings are unacceptable.
  • Plan for a diversity of learning styles using a variety of media, print, visuals, discussion, etc.
  • Seek a balance in participation. Watch for individuals or groups who dominate, as well as those who are silent. Encourage everyone, but also give everyone the right to pass in any discussion.
  • Make it clear that no member of the group will be forced to share more than he/she feels comfortable to reveal.
  • Enlist the whole group in taking responsibility for making the experience work.

Excerpted from Interfaith Peacemaking Curriculum

Published by Abrahamic Faiths Peacemaking Initiative

Reprinted with permission.

Ten Things You Can Do to Support Interfaith Peacemaking and Collaborative Action

  1. Investigate the “religious landscape” of your home community and develop a list of contacts interested in building interfaith relationships. Form a dialogue group that meets regularly and responds to issues in the community.
  2. Reflect on the religious pluralism within your congregation. Are there any interfaith families? Does your congregation have staff members or volunteers from other religious groups? How might your congregation better serve those from other religious groups in your midst?
  3. Ask people from other religious traditions to tell you about their communities, as regards religious education, worship, etc. If your congregation has already formed some interfaith relationships, are there ways that these might be deepened or expanded?
  4. Visit another religious group in your community when they hold an open day or offer a community program. Hold a visiting day at your own congregation and invite the wider community for hospitality. Support interfaith pastoral care at a local hospital.
  5. Find ways, when working on common issues such as poverty, homelessness, education, etc., to work with other religious groups in your local community.
  6. Study. In your own congregation or with another religious group, design an educational experience or share in a book group.
  7. In order to build relationships, do business intentionally with firms run by members of other religious groups.
  8. Support efforts combating religious hate crimes and religious discrimination in your community.
  9. Support local, national, and global interfaith organizations with your time, your ideas, and your material resources.
  10. Pray that God may empower you to build interfaith community through your congregation.

Excerpted from Interfaith Peacemaking Curriculum

Published by Abrahamic Faiths Peacemaking Initiative

Reprinted with permission.

Interfaith Lessons I Have Learned

James Fleming is an Irish, Roman Catholic priest with extensive experience in Muslim-Christian dialogue. Listed below are some of the learnings he has aquired in his more than 20 years of interfaith work:

  • Relate to others as equal partners in the search for truth
  • Recognize that listening as well as speaking is necessary for a genuine conversation. Remember the words of St. Francis of Assisi: “Preach the Gospel always, and when necessary use words.”
  • Treasure the sense of wonder that comes with encountering the new, the unusual and the surprising. Record such experiences in a journal if possible
  • Be hungry for knowledge about the other person’s culture and religion. Learn to understand what others actually believe and value. And allow them to express their beliefs and values in their own terms. This does mean that we cannot, with experience and knowledge, challenge other people’s cultural values
  • Be honest in sharing your beliefs and do not try to water them down to accommodate. Other people see through this and lose respect for you
  • Do not mispresent or disparage other peoples’ beliefs and practices
  • Be aware of your own need for ongoing conversion to your own professed beliefs. Remember, it is not our job to convert others to our beliefs, but to be faithful to our own
  • Respond to others as a gift, not as a threat
  • Be sensitive to vulnerable people and do not try to exploit them
  • Remember that it’s our differences that can make a difference, so rejoice in the richness of our diversities

Ten Rules for Interfaith dialogue

These clear and handy guidelines for interfaith etiquette emphasize values such as listening, respectful presence, flexibility and openness as well as the capacity for self-reflection and self-critique.

Guidelines for Interreligious Understanding

Fr. Thomas Keating is a Roman Catholic priest and Trappist Monk who has made a major contribution to the centering prayer movement and to Interfaith spirituality. He is convener of the Snowmass Conference and a member of the international monastic inter-religious movement. He authored the following report:

A report on an experience of on-going inter-religious dialogue might be helpful at this point. In 1984, I invited a group of spiritual teachers from a variety of the world religions — Buddhist, Tibetan Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Islamic, Native American, Russian Orthodox, Protestant, and Roman Catholic — to gather at St. Benedict’s Monastery in Snowmass, Colorado, to meditate together in silence and to share our personal spiritual journeys, especially those elements in our respective traditions that have proved most helpful to us along the way.

We kept no record and published no papers. As our trust and friendship grew, we felt moved to investigate various points that we seemed to agree on. The original points of agreement were worked over during the course of subsequent meetings as we continued to meet, for a week or so each year. Our most recent list consists of the following eight points:

  1. The world religions bear witness to the experience of Ultimate Reality to which they give various names: Brahman, Allah, Absolute, God, Great Spirit.
  2. Ultimate Reality cannot be limited by any name or concept.
  3. Ultimate Reality is the ground of infinite potentiality and actualization.
  4. Faith is opening, accepting and responding to Ultimate Reality. Faith in this sense precedes every belief system.
  5. The potential for human wholeness (or in other frames of reference) — enlightenment, salvation, transformation, blessedness, “nirvana” — is present in every human person.
  6. Ultimate Reality may be experienced not only through religious practices but also through nature, art, human relationships, and service of others.
  7. As long as the human condition is experienced as separate from Ultimate Reality, it is subject to ignorance and illusion, weakness and suffering.
  8. Disciplined practice is essential to the spiritual life; yet spiritual attainment is not the result of one’s own efforts, but the result of the experience of oneness with Ultimate Reality.

Points of Agreement or Similarity

At the annual Snowmass conference in May 1986, we came up with additional points of agreement of a practical nature:

A. Some examples of disciplined practice, common to us all:

    1. Practice of compassion
    2. Service to others
    3. Practicing moral precepts and virtues
    4. Training in meditation techniques and regularity of practice
    5. Attention to diet and exercise
    6. Fasting and abstinence
    7. The use of music and chanting and sacred symbols
    8. Practice in awareness (recollection, mindfulness) and living in the present moment
    9. Pilgrimage
    10. Study of scriptural texts and scriptures

And in some traditions:

  1. Relationship with a qualified teacher
  2. Repetition of sacred words (mantra, japa)
  3. Observance of periods of silence and solitude
  4. Movement and dance
  5. Formation of community

B. It is essential to extend our formal practice of awareness into all aspects of our life.

C. Humility, gratitude, and a sense of humor are indispensable in the spiritual life.

D. Prayer is communion with Ultimate Reality, whether it is regarded as personal, impersonal, or beyond them both.

We were surprised and delighted to find so many points of similarity and convergence in our respective paths. Like most people of our time, we originally expected that we would find practically nothing in common. In the years that followed, we spontaneously and somewhat hesitatingly began to take a closer look at certain points of disagreement until these became our main focus of attention. We found that discussing our points of disagreement increased the bonding of the group even more than discovering our points of agreement. We became more honest in stating frankly what we believed and why, without at the same time making any effort to convince others of our own position. We simply presented our understanding as a gift to the group.

Purpose and Principles of the United Religions Initiative (URI)

The United Religions Initiative (URI) was founded in San Francisco (USA) in 1993. It is a dynamic, creative and rapidly growing global interfaith organization.  We at Scarboro Missions are proud to feature URI’s impressive listing of principles. Click here to view the principles.

Essentials for formatting a mission statement for Interfaith Studies at the university or college level 

By Dr. Nathan Kollar

1.   Interfaith dialogue deals with religions individually and comparatively from the perspective of diverse fields of study such as sociology, political science, literature, theology, and religious studies. It is interdisciplinary.


2.  Its purpose is to bring individuals and institutions together in conversation for mutual understanding and action to benefit the common good of which knowledge, peace, and empathy for each other are of primary importance.


3.  At a minimum, it studies and seeks to understand this purpose through all the disciplines that now study religion and religions, while hoping to develop new methods of research and bodies of knowledge unique to interfaith to implement this seeking.


4.  In such study the acquisition of factual knowledge of religions includes the admission of mystery and paradox as inherent to our understanding of religions in general and each religion in particular.


5.  It accepts change as inherent in all religious manifestations and seeks to identify religious change as it occurs within individuals and religious communities.


6.  The recognition of equality among all and empathy for all are both necessary and advocated in all religious encounters titled interfaith. This is not an advocacy of easy relativism, for it recognizes, as David Tracy has said: “Conversation is a game with some hard rules: say only what you mean; say it as accurately as you can; listen to and respect what the other says, however different or other; be willing to correct or defend your opinions if challenged by the conversation partner; be willing to argue if necessary, to confront if demanded, to endure necessary conflict, to change your mind if the evidence suggests it.” (Quoted from Plurality and Ambiguity: Hermeneutics, Religion, Hope, by David Tracy, [Chicago: University of Chicago; San Francisco, CA: Harper & Row, 1987], p. 19.)


7.  It recognizes and accepts the need for accountability in the manner in which it describes the various religions as well as the content of each description.


8.  It is distinguished from other disciplines by its necessary inclusion of the primacy of mystery, paradox, and empathy in its selection, dissemination, and interchanges of information and by methodologies particular to its field of study.


The above mission statement is excerpted with permission from an article entitled, The Interfaith Movement in a Liminal Age: The Institutionalization of a Movement, by Dr. Nathan R. Kollar. To read the entire article, click here:

Dr. Nathan R. Kollar is professor emeritus of Religious Studies at St. John Fisher College, retired adjunct professor in the Graduate School of Education, University of Rochester (Rochester, New York, USA), and co-founder and Chair of the Board of the Hickey Center for Interfaith Studies and Dialogue at Nazareth College (Rochester, New York, USA). He is also Associate Editor in Catholic Book Reviews, Interfaith Section. His two most recent books are: Defending Religious Diversity in Public Schools: A Practical Guide for Building Our Democracy and Deepening Our Education (2009) and Spiritualities: Past, Present, and Future – An Introduction (2012). He has recently edited Sacred Texts and Human Contexts: A North American Response to A Common Word between Us and You ( 2014) and the soon to be published  (2016)  Poverty and Wealth in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. His most recent articles may be found in  Issues: Understanding Controversy and Society in ABC-CLIO Data Bases for Higher Education (2012):  “What Are the Effects Of Religious Diversity On Social Institutions And Culture?” and “How And When Might Religious Texts Be Studied In Public Schools?”  His “The Interfaith Movement in a Liminal Age: The Institutionalization of a Movement,” in the Journal of Ecumenical Studies was published in the Winter, 2016 edition. A  recent paper, The Sky is Falling: Individual and Communal Symbol Development During Liminal Times, was delivered at the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion.



The Language of Interfaith Conversation

In this article, Canadian multifaith educator, JW Windland, argues that a sensitive use of interfaith language expresses our common humanity, builds relationships of respect and trust, and pursues peace. Click here to read article…


Rights, Responsibilities and Skills of Dialogue

In this chart, American interfaith educator, Patrice Brodeur, demonstrates that for true dialogue to occur, it needs to take place within a protective environment of mutually accepted rights and responsibilities, rooted in two fundamental values: respect for the human person and trust in the process of dialogue. Click here to view the chart.

A Safe Place to Address Prejudice, Stereotypes and Fears

In this brief article, Rev. Thomas Bonacci C.P., the founder and director of the Interfaith Peace Project in California (USA), shares ideas on how we might address our prejudices, stereotypes and fears. Read more…

One Muslim’s Interfaith Resolutions

Sohaib Saeed is a Scottish Muslim writer who is currently specializing in Qur’anic studies at Al-Azhar University (Egypt). I am sure you will appreciate the depths of his nine interfaith resolutions. See link below:

Tips for interfaith families: How to make a seder inclusive

Unlike most Jewish holidays, Passover is observed primarily in the home. And the Passover seder, or ritual meal that marks the start of the festival, is that Jewish holiday with the highest participation rate. An important Jewish value is to invite strangers to the seder which celebrates freedom. These nine guidelines are designed to enable non-Jews and interfaith families to feel more comfortable with the holiday’s rituals and traditions.


A Declaration of Interdependence

On a planet-wide scale we are now witnessing the convergence of two international movements – interfaith dialogue and social justice. People active in both movements are realizing that they can create a better world by cooperating with one another. In 1997, an extraordinary document linking social justice to interfaith dialogue was produced and signed by 22 faith communities in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Here is the link to the Declaration:

Why Interfaith dialogue Doesn’t Work – and What We can Do About It

In this challenging article, Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie, an American Reform rabbi and past-president of the Union for Reform Judaism, shares ideas on how interfaith practitioners can move beyond the superficial and into deeper levels of authentic interrelgious dialogue. Read more…