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Inter-Faith Relations in Britain Since 1970 — An Assessment

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This article argues that inter-faith relations in Britain are essentially inspired by the existential realities of a multi-cultural and multi-religious society. It argues that the earliest formal discussions between the followers of various faiths were motivated by their desire to ‘understand’ the beliefs and practices of other faiths. However these ‘engagements’ were confined to local and national secular civic bodies. The motivations behind these ‘engagements’ were essentially need-oriented rather than driven by religious motives. It also seems that the interest of successive British governments was to manage the migrant communities through an agenda based on ‘ethnicity’ and ‘race’ and the religious needs of these migrant communities were largely defined within that context. More recently the British state found it necessary to involve itself directly by funding projects of inter-faith nature. Churches, mainly the Church of England, have become over the years the mediator between the ‘migrant communities’ and the state. This ‘mediation’ is motivated by the churches’ evangelical outreach but also by humanitarian reasons. Due to internal and external factors, all three actors have, over the years, changed and adapted their positions considerably.

Affiliations: 1: Reader in Inter-Faith Relations and Religious Pluralism Markfield Institute of Higher Education uk, Email: ataullah@mihe.org.uk

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