Contributions of Religious Actors and IRD to the Integration Process

Positive contributions of religion and interreligious dialogue to the integration process

  1. All religions share the values of helping those in need and welcoming strangers, so religious communities are often among the first responders during crises and conflict.
  2. Faith-based organizations can mobilize quickly when providing humanitarian assistance because they have less bureaucracy than other intuitions.
  3. Migration creates opportunity for dialogue.
  4. Integration necessitates learning about the host society’s and the newcomers’ religion, traditions and culture and therefore offers opportunities for building bridges through dialogue.
  5. For newly arrived, religious communities provide a support system.
  6. People of faith, even from different religions, often have common values and priorities that allow them to understand one other.

Challenges of interreligious dialogue in the integration process

  1. Interreligious dialogue is sometimes perceived to be only for academics and religious leaders.
  2. Facilitating inclusive dialogue can be difficult because communities can be left out.
  3. Prejudices prevent people from engaging in and benefiting from dialogue. For example, newcomers’ lack of resources is often associated with poverty, which can discourage local communities from engaging with them.
  4. To be successful, IRD has to be authentic, deep and accompanied by critical thinking. Not everyone is equally religious, or willing to engage in deep conversation.
  5. The political and social environment can influence or prevent dialogue.
  6. Both host communities and newcomers have to be open to the Other’s religious beliefs – integration efforts should not only focus on newcomers, but also on the host community.