Issue 8: Interfaith Understanding

‘We have to bring up our young people to think and speak respectfully of other religions.’
-Pope Francis

This would appear to be a significant challenge.

Daily, it would appear, we are are all exposed, to news stories that horrify us all; stories that are mostly connected in some way to Islam, or causes and that claim to be carried out in the Prophet Mohammad’s name.

In the wake of major events like the Sydney siege and the terrorist attacks in France, the continuing barrage of media linking terrorism with Islam has the potential to sow suspicion and doubt among even the most generous and good-willed Australians, leaving many with concerns about the place of Islam in Australia’s social and cultural landscape.

Spontaneous expressions of solidarity such as the #illridewithyou (social media) movement are a sign that many of us are willing to push back against ignorance and ‘guilt by association’. This desire to resist divisive fear and intolerance is one of these more noble aspects of the Australian identity and one in which we can all take part.

But surely we can do more to help resolve the tensions between Muslim and non-Muslim Australians?

Understanding literally means ‘to stand in the midst of’. It implies intimacy or closeness with the object of our knowledge, as though knowing something requires getting up close to it. Unfortunately for most of us our understanding or knowledge of others can be quite limited. We may have our hearts in the right place, but when it comes to understanding other cultures and religions, we fall short. We don’t always get close enough to see what is really going on.

This edition of REmail is designed to provide some simple prayers, lesson plans and activities that will foster interfaith dialogue and understanding of all religion in, and outside, of your classroom.  Notably, these teacher resources will help you:

  • Encourage students to acknowledge the similarities that different faiths have and to promote inter-faith understanding and harmony.
  • Evaluate the importance of interfaith dialogue in multi-faith Australia.
  • Learn about other faith traditions, primarily in monotheistic religions such as Muslim, Jewish, and Buddhist faiths as means of building respect and understanding.
  • Develop an appreciation of religious history and culture diversity of other faiths in Australia.


In this issue



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