Are you a religious organisation?
No, we’re a secular organisation and don’t promote any particular religion. We don’t ‘represent’ faith communities either and nor do we claim to speak on their behalf. We do, however, speak up for the important role that religion plays in many people’s lives and that faith communities play in our society. We ensure that we have people from Glasgow’s diverse communities on our Board of Trustees and our aims include increasing awareness, understanding, and appreciation of religious diversity and interfaith activity.
Can I become a member?
We aren’t a membership organisation. Instead, we try to engage as many people as possible through our diverse, free programmes, and we welcome people to participate as much or as little as suits them. There is, however, a vibrant interfaith community in Glasgow, and the more often you attend our events the more likely you are to see familiar, friendly faces. The best way to be connected is to join our mailing list so that you receive invitations and newsletters inviting you to get involved each month. You can also follow us on social media and get in touch if you have ideas to share!
What is the difference between interfaith and multi-faith?
The word multi-faith refers to endeavours where people from diverse faith communities appear together side-by-side. A multi-faith chaplaincy service, for example, will include chaplains from diverse religious traditions but they won’t necessarily work together (though they might and we hope they do). The word interfaith instead connotes interaction between people. It’s about intentional, active engagement between people as people of diverse faiths and beliefs – with an emphasis on building relationships, mutual support, and mutual learning.
Isn’t interfaith all about mashing everything up together? My distinctive religious identity matters to me!
No. Interfaith engagement is about coming together as people of diverse faiths and beliefs. That means acknowledging and respecting each other’s differences, as well as recognising our shared humanity, our many shared values, and the importance of trying to understand each other and to work together for the benefit of all. Far from compromising the distinctiveness of one’s religious tradition, many people who have experienced interfaith dialogue speak on how it has led them to a deeper understanding – and appreciation of – their own tradition in its distinctiveness.
Are there any other interfaith organisations in Glasgow?
Yes. Our work covers all of Glasgow and brings together people of all backgrounds. There are also other, more focussed groups in Glasgow including:
The Glasgow LGBT+ Interfaith Network (GLIN) seeks to promote the visibility and acceptance of people of faith who are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (and those who fall somewhere under the queer umbrella). They provide support and community to LGBT+ people and allies from different faith backgrounds, while encouraging interfaith relations. Find out more on their Facebook page and Website.
Glasgow Forum of Faiths is serviced by Glasgow City Council and brings together civic authorities and religious and community leaders from Glasgow’s diverse religious communities , to discuss issues of mutual interest and to work for the good of Glasgow. For more information see here.
Women of Faith and Community is a women-only dialogue group which meets in Glasgow’s West End. Meeting monthly, they welcome women of all faiths and none to come together to discuss what connects them, and to work towards better understanding of each other’s faith and beliefs. Get in touch with the group via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
These groups don’t all have an active online presence, but we do our best to promote their activities in our monthly newsletters. You can sign up to our mailing list here.
If you live out-with Glasgow, then please check out the Interfaith Scotland website. Interfaith Scotland, while based in Glasgow, is the national organisation for interfaith work and their website contains information about all the main local interfaith groups across Scotland.
I’m not religious. Can I still get involved?
Yes! We really mean it when we say interfaith is for everyone. As a non-religious person your beliefs matter just as much, and they are also protected in law. That’s why we talk about ‘religion and belief’: to include non-religious beliefs. If we’re going to have a harmonious society, we need religious and non-religious people to understand each other and to get along just as much as we need this for people of diverse religions. So please, join us sometime and know that you are welcome and your presence appreciated!
I’m curious about dialogue, but I’m not an expert in my tradition. Can I still get involved?
Yes, absolutely. Most of the people we engage with aren’t experts. But people often tell us about how much they’ve learned through the experience of dialogue – about their own tradition as well as other people’s.
Isn’t religion just a source of conflict in the world? Won’t talking about it just stir up more trouble?
Although there are many examples throughout history of conflicts fuelled by religious difference, religious traditions have also been great sources of good. Glasgow’s faith communities contribute a great deal – not just to their own communities but to society at large. And, far from stirring up conflict, we have found that engaging in interfaith dialogue increases people’s sense of wellbeing, acceptance, and belonging in a multi-religious society. Even on difficult subjects where people disagree profoundly, carefully facilitated conversations can increase understanding, respect, and a feeling of ease in the company of religious others. See Difficult Dialogues.
Will people try to convert me?
Interfaith spaces are not spaces for proselytization. At Interfaith Glasgow’s meetings and events, the importance of listening to understand is always emphasised, and participants are asked not to try and change the minds of others. This extends to non-religious beliefs as well as religious ones. Dialogue is very different to debate. The goal is mutual understanding. In fact, most religious groups do not engage in actively trying to convert others and it is not as hard as you might think for them to listen and learn from each other. For example, most Christian denominations – including those who engage in pro-active evangelisation – have publicly recognised the value of interfaith engagement, and have committed to listening to religious others without seeking to convert them within an interfaith context.