Religious Literacy

Inter Faith Week provides a great opportunity to increase religious literacy, and many events advanced awareness, as people learn more about one another, and something of the contribution that others make to their neighbourhoods and to wider society.

Aspects of increasing religious literacy were seen at all Inter Faith Week events, whether through informal conversation, formal dialogues, or witnessing the practices of others. Learning was to the fore at the many school activities, events at higher and further education institutions, and through exhibitions and demonstrations, lectures, conferences, talks, seminars and workshops. Faith communities opened their doors for people of other faiths and the public to come in and learn about different traditions, and places of worship, faith-based organisations and local inter faith groups invited speakers in to increase awareness of a particular tradition or traditions.

Events that aimed to increase religious literacy included:

School activities:

  • Workshops at local primary schools across Leicester on Sikhism, Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism and Judaism, facilitated by the St Philip’s Centre.
  • A showcase of RE work from pupils across Lancashire throughout Inter Faith Week at Burnley Central Library, organised by the Burnley and Pendle Faith Centre and supported by local faith communities.
  • A range of other activities about which more information can be found in the ‘School activities’ section.

Higher and further education activities:

  • A ‘Faith and Food Symposium’ at the University of Kent, Canterbury. Speakers from different faiths were invited to explain the place of food in their worship, celebrations and rituals
  • A faith tour of different places of worship by students at the University of Bradford. Students visited a mosque, a church, a Hindu temple and a Gurdwara to increase their religious literacy.
  • An Inter Faith Week exhibition at Falmouth University Library, with exhibits from a range of faiths and experts on hand to discuss them.

Conferences, seminars, talks and workshops:

  • The ‘Faith in Modern Britain’ conference held at Spotland Stadium, Rochdale, by the Faiths Network 4 Manchester. Participants heard from a range of speakers and discussed the ways in which faith communities can work together to overcome extremism through community cohesion.
  • A ‘Yours Faithfully Religious and Cultural Diversity Workshop’ held at the Bawnacre Centre, Irvinestown, Northern Ireland. Participants were provided with a variety of insights and practical support to help develop greater awareness and understanding of religious and cultural diversity.
  • A series of talks at the Newman Centre, Wolverhampton, on the theme of ‘On Care for Our Common Home – Faith Perspectives’. Speakers were invited to discuss the ways in which their faith was contributing to cohesive communities and the common good.

Exhibitions, fairs and demonstrations:

  • Exhibitions, such as a special object handling session at Durham University Oriental Museum, where participants were invited to handle objects from its Buddhist, Hindu, Islamic and Sikh collections, and to learn more about their significance to these faiths.
  • A ‘Window on World Faiths’ day held by Dyfed-Powys Police to increase religious literacy among members of the emergency services and the public. The day explored the diversity of faiths in the area, members of which showcased their beliefs and practices. .
  • The ‘Southend Faith and Belief Day’, where members of the public were invited to learn from representatives of Christian, Muslim, Jewish and Humanist communities and hear about the contribution they make to the local area.

Pilgrimages, walks and faith trails:

  • The Newcastle Council of Faiths ‘Walk for Peace’. Participants visited the Hindu Temple, the Church of the Venerable Bede, Newcastle Central Mosque, and a gurdwara, and were given an opportunity to learn something of each tradition.
  • Two faith trails in Preston, organised by Faith in Lancaster. Participants visited the Buddhist Vihara, the Quwwatul Islam Mosque, the Sikh Gurdwara, St Stephens Church, BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Hindu Temple, and enjoyed talks about Judaism and the Baha’i faith. 

To see the ways in which events during Scottish Interfaith Week increased religious literacy, visit http://www.interfaithscotland.org/scottish-interfaith-week/.

Published 18 January 2017