How participation changes things: ‘inter-faith’, ‘multi-faith’ and a new public imaginary

Paul Weller

in Faith in the public realm

Published by Policy Press

Published in print January 2009 | ISBN: 9781847420305
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447302285 | DOI:
How participation changes things: ‘inter-faith’, ‘multi-faith’ and a new public imaginary

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In the past few years, the ‘religious landscape’ of the UK has undergone massive change including the approach of the government to religions. Particularly at the local and regional levels, government and other public bodies have become engaged with initiatives, structures and organisations that have the contribution of religions to public life and civic society as their rationale. This chapter traces the diversity of faiths in Britain and shows how they are working together through inter-faith and multi-faith structures. It outlines the evolution of this diversity which begun with British colonialism and the exposure of Christians to other faiths. The chapter also traces the ‘coming home’ of these burgeoning relationships during the mid-twentieth century and with the end of the Empire and migration from former colonies. This mainstreaming of inter-faith and multi-faith work was a result of the growing politics of identity and difference in relation to faith as well as ethnicity. In this chapter, the focus is on multi-faith and inter-faith initiatives that are more persistent in space and time, specifically those that contribute to the wider societal context of ‘inter-religious relations’, understood as broader in scope and effect than initiatives to do with inter-faith dialogue as more narrowly conceived.

Keywords: inter-faith initiatives; inter-faith initiatives structures; inter-faith organisations; diversity of faiths; multi-faith structures; inter-faith; multi-faith; inter-religious relations

Chapter.  7470 words. 

Subjects: Sociology of Religion

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