Faith leaders from across Reading say religious integration is thriving in Reading. At Reading Interfaith Group's autumn event on Sunday, members of the Christian, Islamic, Jewish and Sikh communities gave their views on the importance of dialogue between faiths.
The meeting, chaired by the Bishop of Reading the Rev Stephen Cottrell, featured a talk by Dr. Hugh Boulter, the chair of the Oxford Diocesan Committee for Interfaith Concerns (ODCIC) on the Importance and Nature of Dialogue.
In it he said three factors - isolation, hostility and competition - often framed relations between different religions. He said: "We all have an obligation to not allow us to become isolated and for all communities to become mainstream. Monologue is not dialogue. Dialogue is where each party expresses its own views on its own terms." He added: "People of different religions should also look beyond similarities between themselves. It's the things which divide us which are important because we are not all the same."
Following Dr. Boulter's talk, a panel of religous leaders added their own views. Mustafa Chaudhary, the Secretary of the Reading Muslim Council, said that being isolated was "something alien to being a Muslim". He said: "Now is the time to be very proactive in coming out and maintaining that dialogue."
Mark Drukker, the warden of the Reading synagogue, said: "Reading is very lucky. There are no no-go areas. I live in a small close and everyone from every faith lives there. I think there's something very English about not wanting to talk about your religion."
Sukhjit Singh, a member of the Reading Gurdwara Committee said: "We are in a very fortunate position in Reading compared to some communities, like Slough or Birmingham. People get on here; there's very little friction between communities in Reading."
Reading Interfaith Group is an independent organisation that has been running for more than 20 years. For more information visit www.readinginterfaith.co.uk .
Reading Evening Post - Tuesday, October 16 2007