1. Assume the essential goodness of the other:
We can only succeed in reaching understanding in the spirit of loving
community where each person is respected and each person is assumed
to seek the greatest good.
2. Relate with respect. Seek for understanding. Understanding what
someone is saying does not mean that you need to agree with what
is being said. This is not to say that our listening must always
be uncritical. Our questions will only be accepted as we show that
we want to learn and understand.
3. Speak only from your own tradition. Those who are living a religion
are best equipped to explain its beliefs and put the behaviour of
its members in a proper context. In an interfaith dialogue you are
there to represent your faith tradition. Do not attempt to characterize
the beliefs and practices of other religions. Be willing to let go
of your stereotypes.
4. Suspend assumptions, judgments, evaluations, status: Sometimes
our own biases and pre-conceptions get in the way of understanding
the other and become a barrier to dialogue. Use the dialogue as an
opportunity to identify and clarify your own pre-conceptions and
5. Focus on inquiry and reflection: ask open-ended questions with
the intention of gaining insight and perspective. Take time to reflect
on what has been said, notice how we are connected.
6. Release the need for an outcome: the purpose of dialogue is
to be open to new understanding, not to come up with a definitive
answer or a solution.
7. Prepare carefully for dialogue. Dialogue ventures will be most
successful with mutual planning and preparation.
a. It is important to approach others with the same kind of respect
we would wish to be accorded. They cherish their beliefs and practices
as deeply as we do our own, however different they may appear to
b. Every religious tradition, including our own, has disreputable
adherents and unpleasant episodes in its history. The dialogue is
not possible if only the best of one tradition is contrasted with
the worst of the others.
c. Issues of separation must be addressed as well as those of unity.
Dialogue is not furthered when painful or difficult issues are glossed
over. However, this should not be done with an attitude of superiority,
or solely in an effort to air grievances. Dialogue should include
an awareness of our own contribution to division and misunderstanding.
d. By engaging in dialogue we are not being asked to compromise
our own faith.
e. Our understanding of our own faith should be clear, so that
our perspective can be fairly presented to dialogue partners.
Dialogue, however, should not be a subtle form of proselytizing,
but an occasion for mutual sharing.
8. Share spiritual insights and approaches to worship that respect
the integrity of each tradition. There is much that religious people
can share in an atmosphere of learning and openness. However, people
of other traditions are no more anxious than we are to engage in
acts of worship which blur very real differences of theology or world
view. Neither do they relish the appropriation by others of their
religious symbols or sacred texts.
a. Attendance at another community's acts of worship should always
be accompanied by careful preparation and an opportunity to ask questions
afterward, preferably answered by members of that tradition.
b. When being present during the worship of another faith community
we may be unable to participate fully in everything that is said
and done. Nonetheless we should attend with the attitude that the
event is an important part of the spiritual life of the participants.
c. Prayer for people of other religious traditions is valuable;
especially during times of particular need or when it is for better
relationships with them. It is inappropriate to single out any one
religious group in a way that fosters prejudice.