Case Study 3: Religious Rituals
Among interreligious activities, religious rituals are some of the most controversial and problematic. Religious rituals are often viewed as the performance of beliefs acted out before the believer’s god, and so issues of integrity and fidelity come into sharp focus. Among the interreligious actors in this research some held theologies that were amenable to interreligious worship, others held theologies that were not. This was found to be an area of mutual misunderstanding. This case study reports examples of different approaches to ritual worship in a religiously plural context with varying degrees of acceptability to participants: being an observer at someone else’s worship; performing parallel or sequential acts of worship; differentiation of engagement within worship; adaptation of worship to sensibilities of ‘other’ faiths; incorporation into ‘the other’s’ worship; interreligious rituals. While interreligious worship entails risks, many participants were aware of powerful social (rather than theological) reasons for engagement as signs of friendship and solidarity. In contexts where social and theological reasons conflicted the concept of intention became important. D’Costa’s distinction between intentions of ‘head’, ‘heart’ and ‘action’ is used to classify the positions of those who did participate in religious rituals as part of their interreligious engagement.
KeywordsReligious rituals Interreligious worship Integrity Intention
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