Inter Faith Encouragement
Are Muslims taking over the country? Does inter faith engagement mean we sell out on our beliefs and weaken our faith?
The answers to some of these questions and more appear in a new resource produced by the Baptist Union of Great Britain which was warmly endorsed at its official launch on Monday night.
The 12 Myths of Inter Faith engagement is a series of postcards exploring common misconceptions, designed to be used in a small group session to allow for discussion.
It is hoped that by working through these myths Christians will have an increased knowledge of other faiths and a new confidence in how to engage with them.
Present at the launch at the Kahaila Café in Brick Lane was Dr Harriet Crabtree of the Inter Faith Network. This week is Inter Faith Week. 'I feel so strongly about the importance of this initiative,' she said. 'This is the sort of thing that should be happening.
'A great deal of inter faith work is somewhere else - for professionals, or for schools. This works with the reality of people's lives and congregations.'
The myths include: God only works through Christians', 'Other faiths only engage in Inter Faith relations to convert us' and 'We can't work alongside people of other faiths'.
The Revd Kumar Rajagopalan, regional minister with the London Baptist Association, said the resource would have been helpful in certain situations he has had to deal with.
Explaining that inter faith engagement was 'part and parcel' of his life as a Hindu convert to Christianity, said he hoped this resource could help to break down barriers, and enable people to be 'constructive and feel less threatened'.
The Revd Jonathan Edwards also spoke, reminding those present that right from the outset of their existence, as expressed by founder Thomas Helwys, Baptists had campaigned for freedom of religion for all faiths. The significance of the venue was also highlighted, it being close to the site of the first Baptist presence in England exactly 400 years ago.
The launch was hosted by the Revd Ian Bunce (pictured, alongside Anne Lane, one of the authors of the resource), head of the BUGB mission department which produced the resource.
'By confronting and overcoming the myths that hold us back, we can become more confident in engaging with our neighbours from different religions and cultures and building good relationships,' he said.
Two more resources will be available in the coming weeks. They are Inter Faith Journeys, a series of interviews with Baptists involved in the Inter Faith movement; and Inter Faith: a theological understanding, which explores the subject in greater depth.
12 Myths of Inter Faith Engagement is available to order through the Baptist Union of Great Britain Online Store for £3 a copy.
More details about Inter Faith week can be found at http://www.interfaithweek.org