Bahá’í Zentrum


Evangelisch-methodistische Kirche


im Volksgartenpark


Koptisch-orthodoxe Kirche

St. Johannes der Täufer

Grazer Dom

Kathedrale, Bischofskirche und Pfarrkirche Hl. Ägydius

Platz der Versöhnung


Maria Himmelfahrt am Leech

Grazer Synagoge

She Drup Ling

Buddhistisches Zentrum

Buddhistisches Zentrum

Bad Gams

Friedliches Zusammenleben

der Religionen in Europa

Workshops / EN

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I God and Tran­scen­dence

1.1 The sig­nif­i­cance of the con­cep­tion of God for humans:
Why God, why Tran­scen­dence?

The reli­gions have an under­stand­ing of some­one or some­thing, that encom­passes and tran­scends our world and attribute dif­fer­ent names to dis­tin­guish “it”. And this is exactly what agnos­tics and athe­ists ques­tion, by deny­ing its sense and some­times com­bat­ing its rel­e­vance.

What is the sig­nif­i­cance of God, of Tran­scen­dence for the indi­vid­ual and for soci­ety at large? Have sys­tems that exclude the con­cep­tion of God, proved their worth in the sense of human­ity? What do the con­cep­tion of God and per­cep­tions of Tran­scen­dence look like in the var­i­ous reli­gions? Which poten­tial for vio­lence or peace do these con­cep­tions bear?

1.2 Reli­gions and Spir­i­tu­al­ity:
What dis­tin­guishes a reli­gious per­son?

Reli­gio­nen haben unter­schiedliche bis gegen­sät­zliche Vorstel­lun­gen von Gott und Tran­szen­denz. Allen gemein­sam ist die Bedeu­tung, die der religiösen Erfahrung zukommt. In diesem Sinne ist Spir­i­tu­al­ität zu einem viel ver­wen­de­ten Begriff gewor­den.

Was aber ist Spir­i­tu­al­ität, was macht einen religiösen Men­schen aus? Trägt Spir­i­tu­al­ität zur Selb­stent­fal­tung bei? Kön­nen Men­schen aus ver­schiede­nen Reli­gio­nen spir­ituell voneinan­der ler­nen und gemein­same For­men der Spir­i­tu­al­ität (Gebete, Med­i­ta­tio­nen u.a.) praktizieren?The reli­gions have dif­fer­ent and even con­trary con­cep­tions of God and Tran­scen­dence. How­ever, all of them have one thing in com­mon: the impor­tance that is attached to the reli­gious expe­ri­ence. In this sense spir­i­tu­al­ity has become a fre­quently used term. What is spir­i­tu­al­ity and what dis­tin­guishes a reli­gious per­son? Does spir­i­tu­al­ity con­tribute to self- devel­op­ment? Can indi­vid­u­als with dif­fer­ent reli­gious beliefs learn from each other and prac­tice com­mon forms of spir­i­tu­al­ity (prayer, med­i­ta­tion, etc.)?

1.3 Self image of reli­gions and per­cep­tion of oth­ers:
What is the mean­ing of terms like “Nir­vana”, “Trin­ity” or “Devo­tion”…?

The under­stand­ing of the respec­tive other reli­gions is often weak; impor­tant con­tents of other reli­gions are often widely mis­un­der­stood or tainted by prej­u­dices.

In this work­shop reli­gious terms and con­cepts will be viewed from an inter­nal and exter­nal per­spec­tive.

And how can ways be found to suc­cess­fully bridge the gap between self per­cep­tion of the respec­tive reli­gion and the per­cep­tion by oth­ers?

1.4 Iden­tity – Rites – Sym­bols:
Reli­gious iden­tity is pri­vately and pub­licly expressed through sym­bols, hol­i­days, reli­gious fes­tive cul­ture and the com­pli­ance with dress reg­u­la­tions: The cross, head scarf and Sun­day rest are cur­rent strik­ingly promi­nent exam­ples.

Sym­bols offer ori­en­ta­tion but at the same time hold great poten­tial of con­flict. Which forms of reli­gious expres­sion have been inte­grated in social coex­is­tence? What is their con­tri­bu­tion in this con­text? What poten­tial for con­flict do they hold in pub­lic sphere? And: What are the pos­si­bil­i­ties of pro­mot­ing con­struc­tive and peace­ful coex­is­tence of all cit­i­zens on this level?

1.5 Mature and com­mu­nica­tive reli­gious belief:
How do reli­gious peo­ple posi­tion them­selves between the polar oppo­sites of fun­da­men­tal­ism and indif­fer­ence?

In our cur­rent life reli­gious belief finds itself in a field of ten­sion between reli­gious plu­ral­ism and the claim to absolute truth: reli­gious fun­da­men­tal­ism seems to be the coun­ter­part to indif­fer­ence towards all reli­gions.

How can inter­re­li­gious dia­logue counter the uncer­tainty, reli­gious indif­fer­ence and fun­da­men­tal­ist cur­rents of reli­gions? What is fun­da­men­tal­ism and how is it posi­tioned in the con­text of reli­gion? And how “flex­i­ble” should belief be?

1.6 Free­dom of reli­gion, crit­i­cism of reli­gion, con­vert­ing to another reli­gion:
How is the human right to free­dom of reli­gion imple­mented on a polit­i­cal, state level and within the respec­tive faith com­mu­ni­ties them­selves?

Pur­suant to the Uni­ver­sal Dec­la­ra­tion of Human Rights and the con­sti­tu­tions of many coun­tries, free­dom of reli­gion and free­dom of expres­sion are guar­an­teed.

What do these free­doms and rights look like in real­ity? Does free­dom of reli­gion con­flict with any other val­ues? How do reli­gious com­mu­ni­ties pro­mote and sup­port the imple­men­ta­tion of free expres­sion and prac­tice of reli­gion and belief? Do they rec­og­nize and allow the free­dom of express­ing one’s crit­i­cism of reli­gion or the right to change or renounce one’s faith and to con­vert to another reli­gion? And: what role do free­dom of reli­gion, free­dom of con­science and free­dom of expres­sion play in the rela­tion­ship with God?

II The Indi­vid­ual and Soci­ety

2.1 The respon­si­bil­ity of reli­gions in the pub­lic sphere:
To what extent should and would faith com­mu­ni­ties par­tic­i­pate in polit­i­cal life?

Civil soci­ety may rea­son­ably expect of reli­gious peo­ple and the insti­tu­tion­ally shaped faith com­mu­ni­ties
a con­tri­bu­tion towards social cohe­sion as well as fair and peace­ful coex­is­tence.

How do faith com­mu­ni­ties respond to these expec­ta­tions and how do they per­form these tasks?

How can pub­lic admin­is­tra­tive ser­vices and insti­tu­tions con­tribute to increase coop­er­a­tion with the respec­tive faith com­mu­ni­ties and in this way strengthen their sense of respon­si­bil­ity? And: In what way can reli­gious major­ity com­mu­ni­ties con­tribute to the pro­tec­tion of reli­gious minori­ties?

2.2 Coex­is­tence in reli­gious diver­sity:
What are the chal­lenges and are there any inspir­ing ini­tia­tives?

Reli­gious diver­sity is enrich­ing, but at the same time holds great poten­tial of con­flict.

What can we do in order to pre­vent dis­crim­i­na­tion for instance on the job mar­ket?

How can we best over­come dif­fi­cul­ties and resolve con­flicts which arise in the pri­vate spheres- for instance in inter­re­li­gious mar­riages or in par­ent­ing?
How do the respec­tive faith com­mu­ni­ties react to these chal­lenges of diver­sity? How can we pre­vent the social phe­nom­e­non of “ghet­toi­sa­tion” and mem­bers of minor­ity faith com­mu­ni­ties with­draw­ing into so called “par­al­lel soci­eties”?

2.3 Reli­gions and gen­der:
What are the paths to greater equal­ity between the gen­ders in the faith com­mu­ni­ties and in soci­ety at large?

Con­cern­ing ques­tions such as dig­nity and equal­ity for women and men, reli­gious teach­ings and tra­di­tions are still rel­e­vant. How­ever, the ideas and views regard­ing the under­stand­ing of “gen­der equal­ity” often are widely diver­gent.

In what way do faith com­mu­ni­ties pro­mote gen­der equal­ity? How is non- dis­crim­i­na­tion and equal­ity reflected in reli­gious insti­tu­tions and lived in every day reli­gious life? And: Which sig­nif­i­cance do tra­di­tional stereo­typed role mod­els have in the respec­tive faith com­mu­ni­ties today?

2.4 Part­ner­ship, fam­ily and sex­u­al­ity:
In which way do reli­gions con­tribute to build­ing inter­per­sonal rela­tion­ships embod­ied with human val­ues and dig­nity?

Tra­di­tional moral con­cepts and lifestyles are some­times con­trasted by more open under­stand­ings of part­ner­ship, fam­ily and sex­u­al­ity in soci­eties.

What under­stand­ing do the respec­tive faith com­mu­ni­ties have with respect to fam­ily, part­ner­ship and sex­u­al­ity? How can reli­gious prin­ci­ples be applied in ques­tions of divorce or homo­sex­ual mar­riage? Which lim­its should the soci­ety lay down (for instance in cases of con­tin­u­ous prob­lems in one of these areas)? And: What are the pos­si­bil­i­ties for reli­gious peo­ple to hold on to their respec­tive val­ues and at the same time con­tribute towards a tol­er­ant soci­ety?

2.5 Sal­va­tion and heal­ing:
How are the var­i­ous notions of reli­gious sal­va­tion linked to our health?

If we con­sider a human being as a unity of body, mind and spirit, the role of reli­gions in the con­text of heal­ing is not lim­ited to the con­so­la­tion of hope of eter­nal sal­va­tion, but also includes heal­ing in a worldly under­stand­ing. Reli­gions trans­mit mean­ing, mobi­lize psy­cho­so­matic pow­ers and encour­age help­ful­ness.

What effects can reli­gious belief and spir­i­tu­al­ity have on health and heal­ing in gen­eral? Can reli­gious prin­ci­ples also impede heal­ing processes? What is the con­struc­tive and crit­i­cal poten­tial of reli­gions in regard to mod­ern and tightly sched­uled med­ical treat­ment processes? And: What role can and should reli­gions gen­er­ally play in the pub­lic health care sys­tem?

2.6 “Teach­ing Reli­gion”:
To what extent is reli­gious edu­ca­tion a pub­lic respon­si­bil­ity and ser­vice?

Reli­gious edu­ca­tion is an inter­nal mat­ter of reli­gious com­mu­ni­ties while at the same time a con­cern of soci­ety. Reli­gious edu­ca­tion can address strong moti­va­tional forces and plays an impor­tant role in pro­mot­ing peace­ful coex­is­tence and mutual under­stand­ing. The con­cepts, sys­tems approaches, how­ever, vary sig­nif­i­cantly and range from “teach­ing about reli­gion” to “teach­ing in reli­gion“. Edu­ca­tion is an impor­tant ele­ment of the suc­cess of peace­ful coex­is­tence in cul­tural and reli­gious diver­sity.

Are there gen­eral recipes for suc­cess, or is the path to suc­cess based on the respec­tive his­tor­i­cally devel­oped social real­ity? How much knowl­edge of reli­gion is nec­es­sary for a suc­cess­ful social coex­is­tence any­way? Which con­cepts of reli­gious edu­ca­tion exist already and how many new approaches need yet to be devel­oped? And: What respon­si­bil­ity does an ide­o­log­i­cally neu­tral state have in this con­text and what is the scope of a city in all this?

III World and Global Respon­si­bil­ity

Inter­faith dia­logue:
Who com­mu­ni­cates with whom about what ? Why? To what pur­pose and under what con­di­tions?

Global respon­si­bil­ity is begin­ning right at our front door. It is based on the pres­ence of indi­vid­u­als with a cul­tural and reli­gious back­grund that varies from one’s own in a city. Inter­re­li­gious dia­logue is a cru­cial global issue that serves the pur­pose oof pre­vent­ing the immi­nent dan­ger of a clash of civ­i­liza­tions.

At which lev­els does inter­re­li­gious dia­logue take place- in every­day life, among experts, in com­mon activ­i­ties and events, among per­sons in lead­ing posi­tions? What under­stand­ing do the respec­tive faith com­mu­ni­ties have of each other? Which suc­cess­ful dia­logue ini­tia­tives are there on a local level? And: How can expe­ri­ences and results of inter­na­tional dia­logue be com­mu­ni­cated sus­tain­ably on a local level? In what way can cities and local faith com­mu­ni­ties take part in global dia­logue processes?

3.2 Respon­si­bil­ity for the world:
What poten­tial do the reli­gions offer for a global future worth liv­ing in?

Over the past years inter­re­li­gious dia­logue has led to the ques­tion of whether there is a Global Ethic of all the world reli­gions as a vision of a global trans­for­ma­tion of eth­i­cal aware­ness for a peace­ful and sus­tain­able future.
What respon­si­bil­i­ties do the reli­gious com­mu­ni­ties assume in the areas of sus­tain­abil­ity, ecol­ogy, social and eco­nomic fair­ness, peace­ful con­flict res­o­lu­tion and com­bat­ing poverty?

In what ways can local reli­gious com­mu­ni­ties on the basis of the prin­ci­ple of Global Ethic coop­er­ate with one another and with other com­mit­ted peo­ple in ques­tions of devel­op­ment poli­cies, ecol­ogy, fair trade, etc. And: Will the reli­gions estab­lish them­selves as “global play­ers” and what will be their impact in future?

3.3 Reli­gions and pol­i­tics:
Is reli­gion a pri­vate mat­ter?
Demo­c­ra­tic soci­eties are dis­tin­guished by a legal sep­a­ra­tion of Church and State. The state and reli­gions can­not inter­fere in each other’s spheres, but at the same time rely on close coop­er­a­tion.

To what extent do reli­gions have a role to play in pub­lic sphere? In what areas is their pres­ence wel­come and con­tribute to a bet­ter inter­re­li­gious under­stand­ing? How can the faith com­mu­ni­ties address com­mu­nity con­cerns and how should the state or a city pro­mote the pres­ence of reli­gions in the pub­lic sphere? And: How are the reli­gions at risk of being used for cer­tain polit­i­cal inter­ests?

3.4 Reli­gions and Human Rights:
Can faith com­mu­ni­ties con­vinc­ingly com­mit to advo­cat­ing for Human Rights?

Graz holds the title of City of Human Rights and in this way already takes on respon­si­bil­ity for advo­cat­ing Human Rights. As they are uni­ver­sal, all reli­gious com­mu­ni­ties are oblig­ated to respect and abide by them.
What con­tri­bu­tion should reli­gions make in this area, in their fun­da­men­tal prin­ci­ples, their polit­i­cal com­mit­ment and their char­i­ta­ble works? How con­vinc­ingly do they imple­ment and pro­tect human rights in their own midst? Howdo they uphold and pro­mote human rights and how can they coop­er­ate with admin­is­tra­tive ser­vices and NGOs in their engage­ment with human rights?

3.5 Reli­gions and young peo­ple:
How can we suc­ceed in offer­ing con­struc­tive guid­ance?

The most pre­cious poten­tial of every soci­ety is their youths. This is why opti­mum devel­op­ment oppor­tu­ni­ties rep­re­sent a pri­mary pub­lic con­cern. Reli­gions may offer con­struc­tive and gen­uine guid­ance and action moti­va­tion for young peo­ple.
How reli­gious are young peo­ple? Which shape does reli­gion have for young peo­ple of the cyber- era? What do the faith com­mu­ni­ties have to offer to young peo­ple? What impor­tance does reli­gion have for young peo­ple who grow up in the present youth cul­tures? Which approaches and best prac­tice exam­ples are there for the faith com­mu­ni­ties’ and youth orga­ni­za­tions’ out­reach activ­i­ties in youth work? How can young peo­ple be inter­ested in inter­re­li­gious dia­logue and in this way learn to over­come cul­tural and reli­gious bar­ri­ers? What pos­si­bil­i­ties and for joint activ­i­ties and syn­er­gies are there in the pub­lic sphere?

3.6 Reli­gions and the media:
How can the scope and enor­mous power of the media be uti­lized best?

The free­dom of the media is an indis­pens­able ele­ment of democ­racy. At the same time the media have a great respon­si­bil­ity: Not only do they por­tray events, they also weigh and even con­struct real­ity. By pro­vid­ing infor­ma­tion, they widen the view but at the same time nar­row hori­zons by restrict­ing the view of the over­all pic­ture to its neg­a­tive aspects (also on and between the reli­gions).

Which role do reli­gious com­mu­ni­ties play in this field- as mere objects of media por­trayal, as active play­ers shap­ing the media as stake­hold­ers and as media own­ers? How can this coop­er­a­tion be con­struc­tively and respon­si­bly designed and imple­mented in a plural soci­ety? How do reli­gious minori­ties present them­selves in the media of their coun­try and how are the por­trayed by the media? What pos­si­bil­i­ties does a city have to posi­tion and present itself in this ques­tion, pos­si­bly off the trod­den paths of com­mon media rep­re­sen­ta­tion? And: How can more media pub­lic­ity be cre­ated for inter­re­li­gious dia­logue?