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Document Details :
Title: Interfaith Relations in the Context of a Multifaith City
Author(s): RACE, Alan
Journal: Studies in Interreligious Dialogue
Volume: 25 Issue: 2 Date: 2015
This article analyses the early stages in the growth of interreligious relations in one multifaith city in England, namely, Leicester in the Midlands area. Over 50% of the city now comprises people from Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, Jewish, Baha’i and Jain backgrounds. Together with the Christian presence, this diverse demographic has meant that the city has not suffered major disturbances, such as has happened in other cities where the demographic is more bi-polar. Much of the motivation for developing positive relations between faith communities stems from external threats and international events. Over against the threats, the focus has largely been on serving the good of the city, though there have been educational and dialogical initiatives which have tried to provide religious depth to any political encouragement based on social cohesion. The City Council has been supportive of interfaith work over many years and credit deserves to be given to city leaders for their vision and financial backing. The building of trust between faith communities has been key, and the churches (mainly Anglican) have played a significant role in gathering religious leaders and others together to address common concerns. The founding of the St. Philip’s Centre in 2005 also stimulated interfaith work on many levels, including sports, sharing food, creating opportunities for community cohesion, fund-raising for justice projects around the world, and education, all of which added value to the already existing positive work of the Leicester Council of Faiths, which was first established in 1986. The analysis shows that religious convictions matter in the public realm in a city like Leicester.