Where can people from different religious communities enter into interreligious dialogue with each other and promote intercultural communication? Ideally, of course, where they are already active: in their municipalities and cities. In order to promote this exchange, the Global Ethic Foundation, together with the state, initiated the project “Getting Local Councils of Religions Off the Ground.” This is unique in Germany.
Since 2017, the Local Councils of Religions has supported and facilitated comprehensive integration, social participation and successful coexistence locally, across religious boundaries.
THE WORLDS RELIGIONS AT ONE AND THE SAME TABLE – LOCAL PARTNERS
At the establishing meeting of the “Round Table of Religions” in Baden-Württemberg in 2017, the Ministry of Social Affairs, Health and Integration announced the goal of setting up local councils of religions in at least ten municipalities in the state by 2019 so that interreligious dialogue could be accommodated. As a partner of the Ministry, the Global Ethic Foundation has the mandate to accompany this project conceptually as well as regarding content.
Baden-Württemberg municipalities should be supported in setting up and establishing their own councils of religions at a local level. To this end, interested municipalities receive free advice on how the exchange with religious and faith communities can be maintained and further developed within the local environment. This ensures that a voluntary, differentiated and tailor-made process can thrive in the best possible way.
In addition, the Global Ethic Foundation organises regular networking meetings for participating and interested municipalities. here is also an exchange with existing voluntary, interreligious initiatives in order to support them. Especially religious youth organisations are to increasingly be addressed in the future and included in interreligious dialogue.
STRENGTHENING THE PEACEFUL COEXISTENCE OF RELIGIOUS COMMUNITIES
Nearly four years after its launch, the project is almost a self-perpetuating success. It has contributed to the fact that religious functionaries are increasingly perceived in their key role of striving for peaceful coexistence in urban society. This works in both large and small municipalities, in rural as well as in urban areas.
The reactions to the project have confirmed its specificity and uniqueness: dialogue is promoted not only within the religious communities themselves, but also between them and the city administrations.
In the meantime, Baden-Württemberg has become one of the federal states in which the structure of the council of religions is best developed and consolidated. The feedback from those involved in the project has shown how the helpful advice provided by the state, as well as the Global Ethic Foundation, has contributed to this. What has also been highlighted is the importance of being able to network with others. As part of the project a trust for interreligious dialogue and encounters between the parties involved has been set up in addition to the 13 local interreligious councils.
ACTIVITIES FOR INTERRELIGIOUS EXCHANGE
INSIGHTS INTO OUR ACTIVITIES
In 2019 more than 80 people from 24 different cities gathered in Stuttgart for the first networking meeting. Presentations and best practice examples showed how local councils of religions contribute to more participation and solidarity. In addition, the participants discussed specific issues related to the establishment of councils of religions. At the 2021 networking meeting in Tübingen, the participants exchanged views not only on their respective activities, but also on specific questions and challenges they face. In addition, everyone received the final
brochure, which documents and illustrates the progress of the project.
FEDERAL CONGRESS COUNCILS
The Federal Congress of Councils of Religions is an association of municipal, interreligious bodies and initiatives. Since 2018, the Federal Congress has met annually in order to discuss the challenges and opportunities of interreligious work on site, to develop ideas as well as strengthening the commitment of the individual cooperating participants. The Global Ethic Foundation acts as an advisory member of the Federal Congress of Councils of Religions.
ROUND TABLE OF RELIGIONS
The Round Table of Religions in Baden-Württemberg brings together representatives from organized religious communities throughout the state as well as secular associations. The Global Ethic Foundation holds two permanent seats. The aim of the round table is to strengthen the exchange between the state government and the ideological and religious communities in the state. This helps promote integration and social cohesion. At the previous plenary sessions, approximately 50 stakeholders exchanged views on the relationship between religions and faith communities and the secular state, for example, as well as ideas regarding the field of welfare or the commitment of religions and faith communities to sustainability and environmental protection.