In Britain today, people of many different faiths
and beliefs live side by side. The opportunity lies before us
to work together to build a society rooted in the values we treasure.
But this society can only be built on a sure foundation of mutual
respect, openness and trust. This means finding ways to live our
lives of faith with integrity, and allowing others to do so too.
Our different religious traditions offer us many resources for
this and teach us the importance of good relationships characterised
by honesty, compassion and generosity of spirit. The Inter Faith
Network offers the following code of conduct for encouraging and
strengthening these relationships. As members of the human family,
we should show each other respect and courtesy. In our dealings
with people of other faiths and beliefs this means exercising
good will and:
Respecting other people's freedom
within the law to express their beliefs and convictions;
Learning to understand what others
actually believe and value, and letting them express this in their
Respecting the convictions of others
about food, dress and social etiquette and not behaving in ways
which cause needless offence;
Recognising that all of us at times
fall short of the ideals of our own traditions and never comparing
our own ideals with other people's practices;
Working to prevent disagreement from
leading to conflict;
Always seeking to avoid violence
in our relationships When we talk about matters of faith with
one another, we need to do so with sensitivity, honesty and straightforwardness.
Recognising that listening as well
as speaking is necessary for a genuine conversation;
Being honest about our beliefs and
Not misrepresenting or disparaging
other people's beliefs and practices;
Correcting misunderstanding or misrepresentations
not only of our own but also of other faiths whenever we come
Being straightforward about our intentions;
Accepting that in formal inter faith
meetings there is a particular responsibility to ensure that the
religious commitment of all those who are present will be respected.
All of us want others to understand and respect
our views. Some people will also want to persuade others to join
their faith. In a multi faith society where this is permitted,
the attempt should always be characterised by self-restraint and
a concern for the other's freedom and dignity. This means:
Respecting another person's expressed
wish to be left alone;
Avoiding imposing ourselves and our
views on individuals or communities who are in vulnerable situations
in ways which exploit these;
Being sensitive and courteous;
Avoiding violent action or language,
threats, manipulation, improper inducements, or the misuse of
any kind of power;
Respecting the right of others to
disagree with us.
Living and working together is not always easy.
Religion harnesses deep emotions which can sometimes take destructive
forms. Where this happens, we must draw on our faith to bring
about reconciliation and understanding. The truest fruits of religion
are healing and positive. We have a great deal to learn from one
another which can enrich us without undermining our own identities.
Together, listening and responding with openness and respect,
we can move forward to work in ways that acknowledge genuine differences
but build on shared hopes and values.