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Christian M. Rutishauser SJ

From Religious Pluralism to Dialogue

Inter-religious Initiatives in Switzerland


From: Stimmen der Zeit, 2006/12, P. 795-808


    The living together of members of different religions requires increasingly from all people concerned a high measure of competence, and the readiness for discussions. CHRISTIAN M. RUTISHAUSER, director of the educational part of the Lassalle-House in Bad Schönbrunn, presents a number of inter-religious initiatives that exist in Switzerland for years, or have recently been founded as answer to current problems.


For a long time the society of Switzerland was shaped by Christianity, i.e. by the Reformed and the Catholic Church. Historically this is - apart from a small immigration by workers from non-European cultures - due to the fact that Switzerland in contrast to the large European nations has no inheritance from the colonial age and thus - politically seen - no special relations with far countries. In the two last decades however also the Swiss society took on a multi-cultural and multi-religious character. In the sixties and then in the late eighties and nineties not only Buddhists from Nepal, Tamils and Muslims from North Africa as well as from the Balkans and Turkey came to Switzerland and were looking for asylum and jobs. In the course of globalization also people of most diverse cultures and religions settled here. At the same time the influence of the traditional Regional Churches decreased strongly. According to the statistics of the federal office in the year 2000 only three quarters of the population belonged still to them: to the Roman-Catholic Church 41.8 per cent (1990: 46.2%), to the Reformed Regional Churches as well as to the Free Churches 35.2 per cent (1990: 40.7%). 11.1 per cent of the population do not want to be assigned to any religious community (1990: 7.4%){1}

Particularly by the migration of the last years the portion of Muslims in Switzerland rose to 4,3 per cent (1990: 2.2%), and thus they became the much smaller, but nevertheless second largest religious community. With 0,2 per cent (1990: 0,3%) of the total population the Swiss Jews are thereby quantitatively outstripped quite a bit. In accordance with this statistics all other religious communities make together only 0.8 per cent (1990: 0.4%) of the population, but the next census in the year 2010 might clearly show that the fanning-out of the religions in Switzerland continues.


Challenge Islam

For the religion-neutral state and the established churches, which are publicly recognized and have for historical reasons manifold special rights, the new religious communities which are settling in, above all the Muslims, are in so far a challenge as the appropriate structural conditions have to be created for the constitutionally ensured freedom to practise their religion {2}.



In Switzerland it is the task of the single cantons to regulate religious affairs. Thus the canton Zurich is about to recognize publicly the Israeli Cult Community and the Jewish Liberal Community; in Bern pioneer work was done, in order to find a solution for Muslim grave fields on cemeteries. Above all the training of Imams, the question of Muslim religious education and the establishment of mosques and prayer rooms for other religious communities led in the past years to political initiatives. Just in the five largest cities of Switzerland, where the non-Christian population is particularly large (59,9% are Christians, 12,9% belong to other religions, 26,2% are without religion) {3}, the city administrations try - in the sense of integration and an early avoidance of xenophobia and religious and fundamentalist ghettos - to promote the inter-religious dialogue.

All these political and social initiatives are particularly concerned with Islam and Muslim immigrants, for 88 per cent of the Muslims are not Swiss citizens. While in French-speaking Switzerland the questions of the Muslims in France often meet with a wide response, and therefore the Muslims of North Africa are more in the focus of public interest, the Islam of German-speaking Switzerland is shaped by the Turkish and Bosnian immigrants. Hence the Christian People's Party (CVP) that is traditionally supported by Catholics, formulated as the first party political principles to questions in view of the Muslim population {4}.

The amazing numerous initiatives for religious dialogue and for communicating between religion and society, which developed in the last two decades and to which politics - according to its character - reacts relatively late, cannot be explained only by the immigration of people of other cultures and religions. Also many old-established Swiss are looking for new religious orientation - due to the loss of plausibility of the secularization ideology as well as to the decline of the right-nationalistic ideologies since the political turn of 1989. They are extremely well represented at inter-religious meetings - not only those who left the Christian churches but also many Catholics and Protestants. This participation is explained also from the fact that the heads of the established Regional Churches see inter-religious dialogue as order of the hour and do often initiate it - be it from inner religious conviction, be it from social responsibility within the state.

At the same time can be seen that there prevails a need for information with the Christian-Muslim meetings, and that there is a great curiosity to know more about Islam. One is chiefly interested to understand better the Arab society and its Islam as well as the current world politics.



It seems that in view of apparently clear Islamic-political conceptions also many Swiss citizens become aware of the absence of a politically relevant Christian theology. This has been caused by the privatisation of Christianity on the one hand, and by the collapse as well of the Marxist as of the nationalistic moulded political theology on the other hand. What is more, even a public religious language got lost on the side of Christianity; a fact that is recognized now in the mirror of Islam.


Return of Religions

The "return of religiousness" {5} as socially and politically relevant factor leads occasionally to a Christian-conservative position that falls back behind the idea of a religiously neutral state or calls it into question. The perfect example for it became the building of mosques, after such a project was - in view of 400 objections - rejected in Wangen near Olten in February 2006 by the population. Although the constitution guarantees the freedom of worship, it leaves so much room for interpretation to the municipalities that the erecting of religious buildings can be prevented. Up to this day there is only in Genf a representative mosque (built in 1978), and a small one in Zurich (built in 1963), that is hardly recognizable as such from outward.

The inter-religious meetings with Asian religions are of a completely different nature, since the social and political questions are thereby not in the same measure in the center. Also Hindus and Buddhists ask for the building of temples, monasteries and public prayer rooms; these are seen not so much as political challenge, but rather as an aesthetic addition to the Christian architecture: The Thai temple in Gretzenbach and the Nepalese monastery in Rikon with the Tibet-Institute belong already to the Swiss landscape.

Particularly in the encounter with Buddhism and its Zen tradition for most of the interested Swiss a vital, religious and spiritual search is at stake: alienated to the traditional church piety, they are looking for a new spirituality: a spirituality that is not historically burdened and dogmatically shaped but universal, human and personal. This could clearly be seen by the Dalai Lama's instruction of several days before thousands of listeners in the indoor stadium of Zurich in summer 2005.

That we in the German-speaking countries can no longer imagine the "secularized west" and Christian religiousness without Zen meditation and Asian spirituality, as Ursula Baatz recently stated {6}, applies especially to Switzerland. Also the popularity of the Baha'i religion in Switzerland, which stresses the equality of all human beings and the harmony in the living together of different people, is on the line of this gentle return of religion.



This seems to be more compatible with the globalization than the rather collective, historical and dramatic understanding of religion by the Abrahamitic religions.


Initiatives of the Regional Churches and the National Network

That the time has come to take a first stock of the current inter-religious organizations and institutions, becomes apparent by the nearly 200 pages of the brochure "Institutions of Inter-religious Dialogue in Switzerland" published this autumn by the pastoral planning commission of the Swiss Bishops' Conference {7}. The "Schweizerische Pastoralsoziologische Institut" (SPI) in St Gallen created in co-operation with the "Interreligiösen Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Schweiz" (IRAS) this bilingual (French-German) work of reference, in order to offer an overall view of the different initiatives.

There are short descriptions of profile of the various commitees and organizations - whereby the presentation is based on their self-represantation -, and how you can contact them. Beside the national and regional commissions for inter-religious dialogue there are numerous bilateral working groups. Furthermore there are listed national organisations as well as institutions working on inter-religious research and education. The Catholic Church of Switzerland wants - according to the Decraration on the Releationship of the Church to Non-Christian Religions ("Nostra Aetate") of the Second Vatican Council - to give help to all those who are interested in the inter-religious discussion, and would like to contribute that the religions do not only care for their own members, but make also positive contributions to a socially just and peaceful living together.


The Swiss Council of Religions

The most important inter-religious committee, the "Swiss Council of Religions", is a historical novelty for Switzerland. It was founded under large public attention in May 2006, and has been praised as milestone of communication. Officially assigned leading personalities from the three Regional Churches (i.e. of the Reformed, the Roman-catholic, and the Christian-Catholic / Old-Catholic Churches), the Jewish communities and the Muslim organizations have seats in this council of the Abrahamitic religions. For the time being it is led by minister Thomas Wipf, the chairman of the Swiss Protestant Church Federation (SEK).



Wipf launched the idea of the Council in view of the Gulf War 2003. He could found it now - after a preparation of one and a half years - together with the bishops Kurt Koch (then Vice-president and in the meantime President of the Catholic Swiss Bishops' Conference) and Fritz René Müller (who represents the Old Catholic Church of Switzerland), with Alfred Donat (President of the "Schweizerischer Israelitischer Gemeindebund" (SIG) (Federation of Jewish Communities in Switzerland), and with Farhad Afshar and Hisham Maizar, who represent Islamic umbrella organizations (Co-ordination of Islamic Organizations in Switzerland, and Federation of Islamic Umbrella Organizations in Switzerland).

Soon after the foundation a critical feminist protest was made in public against the "All-male Council of Religions", signed by 26 women from all three religions, who are engaged in religious and inter-religious work. They demanded the participation of women in the council {8}. Apart from that the reactions were throughout positive, and great expectations as well as numerous questions were discussed in view of the aims formulated in the mandate of the council. They read: "Contribution to the maintenance and promotion of religious peace in Switzerland; Agreement among the participants on common requests; Building up trust between the religious communities; Dialogue on current religion-political questions; Contact to federal authorities in these questions." {9}. The under normal conditions twice annually held consultation of the representatives will be confidential, but one is keen to know the first press releases, in order to see in which direction the council moves. That the Asian religions are not represented, although the council is in principle open to take up also their requests in the given case, is an eloquent expression of the current political and social relevance resp. non-relevance of the various religious communities.


The Inter-religious Study Group of Switzerland

While in view of the world-political constellations that arose especially between Jewish, Christian and Muslim shaped cultures there has been created on highest level a committee of which one does not yet know how it will prove itself, the "Inter-religious Study Group of Switzerland" (IRAS; French COTIS) can look back on fourteen years of fruitful communication between different religious groups, and on promoting their integration into the Swiss society.

As interest group of religious communities the members of which are institutions and organizations with religious or socio-cultural orientation, it aims at enabling cultural minorities to realize their religious requests {10}. Innumerable local communities or individuals, particularly of Tamil and Hindu origin, have got here already consultation and support



in their requests toward the political authorities. The Catholic Bishops' Conference, the new Council of the Religions and the state have already tested, resp. strengthened the co-operation with the IRAS.

Since the reorientation of the IRAS two years ago, also an inter-religious education program has been added to its past initiatives. From 6 to 12 November 2006 the first "Week of the Religions" took place. In the future it shall be held annually. Its aim is to link and bundle already existing inter-religious events, and to stimulate new ones in whole Switzerland, and so to make a broad public more effectively aware of these activities. Besides its working group "Freedom of Religion" is preparing a process of awareness o f, and a conference o n this interest protected by law.

Freedom of religion is not only differently understood by religious communities, but is also legally a highly complex good, competing with other citizen rights, as the headscarf question, the arguments about the Mohammed caricatures or other hurtings of religious feelings show time and again. The discussion about this range of topics, that is to be initiated broadly, shall be led as conflict-preventing communication. Since for historical reasons the Regional Churches are preferential to other religious communities, the working group is to work also for equal rights of the religious communities; rights that go beyond the (current) articles of the Federal Constitution on religious freedom and the prohibition of religious discrimination. Therefore politicians as well as media experts are a special target group of this long-term project.


Basis Work and Initiatives in Geneva and Lausanne

In French-speaking Switzerland the inter-religious dialogue was first institutionalized in 1992 in Geneva by the "Plate-forme interreligieuse de Genève" {11}. Today this platform is active as association with twenty six members, that have to a large extent official functions in their own religious communities. Its charter of 1997 emphasizes that both is at stake, the search for God or the last reality - freely chosen by each person, and the dialogue between religion and society. Spirituality and socio-political commitment are connected in this initiative that is strongly shaped by the Reformed Regional Church.

In Lausanne the situation is quite similar. There the house of the 1998 created association "L´Arzillier" is a central place of inter-religious dialogue {12}. The members of the association are private individuals. Here too the Reformed Church gives financial and non-material support. It is the avowed aim of the statutes to further - without tendencies of syncretism or proselytism - the living together of different religious communities as well as that of various groups within a religion.



Thus statements on public conflicts, contributions to the value discussion in Swiss society, but also inter-religious actions, such as commemoration ceremonies for the memory of Pope John Paul II's inter-religious prayer in Assisi in the year 1986, belong to the activities of the association.


Inter-religious Activities in Zurich and Berne

Among the German-Swiss initiatives for the integration of religious minorities - giving to them good advice in dealing with the authorities and improving their acceptance in the society - two projects are to be particularly emphasized: The project "House of Religions - Dialogue of Cultures" in Berne, and the "Zurich Forum of Religions".

The Zurich Forum was founded due to an initiative of the city Zurich, and is today an association in which national authorities of the canton Zurich formed an alliance with religious communities {13}. Canton, federation and also the Regional Churches support it financially. The forum sees itself as neutral partner between the religious communities, and as their connecting link to society and state. In practical questions, as for example residence permits for pastors, one co-operates with the IRAS.

What is more, the forum is a platform for inter-religious meetings, and offers an education program for a broad public. A meeting with the Dalai Lama in summer 2005 on the occasion of his stay in Switzerland, and several evening lectures on Islam count to the remarkable initiatives of the forum. But also introductions to Christianity for non-Christians, ecumenical contacts to the Orthodox Churches present in Zurich, religious advanced training for administration secretaries of the canton, or special offers for young Muslims belong to the wide range of basis work that is done here for the civil society.

The work of the association House of Religions - Dialogue of Cultures {14} differs in so far from the Zurich Initiative as they in Berne are working for years also towards a H o u s e of Religions the opening of which is planned for the year 2008. The eleven-storey, multi-functional building has the ground plan of a L, and consists of two parts: The flats let for rent and the offices are to bring in the money with which the multi-religious cult rooms in the other part, the foot of the L, are financed. Using this 'stock' by letting flats and offices in the vertical part of the L to private individuals, may also in the future bring money for the maintenance of the House of Religions. It is designed with cult rooms for different religions, libraries, public areas, a cafeteria and a kindergarten - on three floors of the building. The city Berne wants to issue the planning permission in these months, and seems willing to put a site at the disposal of the House of Religions at a reduced interest.



The six represented religious communities of Jews, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhisten and Baha´i have to find the money for their own cult room. While some negotiate about hundreds of details in the planning stage - so for example Hindus and Muslims cannot allow flats above their prayer rooms, the prayer in the mosque has to be directed toward Mekka -, others are working on the operational conception.

That the churches - in view of sufficient cult rooms in the city Berne - want to do without a special Christian prayer room seems strange. For the established religious communities are not to shift their parish activities into these cult rooms - as also the local Rabbi affirms. Rather the House of Religions is to become the exemplary place of inter-religious learning in a multi-religious society and in a religiously neutral state, where the Christian churches - like the other religions - have to become a part. Hence the president of the association, the Herrnhut minister Hartmut Haas, is for many years commendably committed to an equal side by side of the religions in Berne {15}.

The association has its origin in the Bernese discussion platform "Round Table of the Religions", where since 1993 representatives of the Abrahamitic religions and of the Hindus and Buddhists meet. The work of the association finds every few years a festive highlight in the "Fête KultuRel" lasting several days, a fantastic educational offer and event, where the broad population can take part in discussions and cultural presentations, religious celebrations and exhibitions. With this continuous work this Bernese project extends far beyond similar single meetings that were held in the last years at different places, as for example in 2005 in St Gallen, where the "St Gallen Declaration on the Living Together of Religions and the Inter-religious Dialogue" signed by national and religious representatives was published {16}. On 23 June Berne gave the municipal "Integration Award 2006" to the association. The eulogy read:

"The association understands integration of the different cultures and religious communities as a concrete social and socio-political process. ... This dialogue expressly involves also non-religious value concepts (Enlightenment, human rights etc.). This openness is exemplary." {17}

Also the co-operation of the association with the Bernese Academy 'Competence Center Mediation and Conflict Management' contributed to this honor {18}. For in spring 2006 the first course "Presentation and Mediation in the Intercultural and Inter-religious Dialogue", carried by both institutions, could be completed with a degree. Eighteen participants from different religious communities learned with the help of three modules



that in all covered twenty five days, to reflect the variety of forms and values within the different religions and cultures, and to steer constructively their communication, resp. to mediate in conflicts.

Finally also the "Institute for Intercultural Co-operation and Dialogue" is to be mentioned here. It is the only Swiss institution for dialogue that is totally initiated and carried by Muslims. Since 2004 above all young Turks organize with the help of this association conferences and seminars and offer lectures. Thereby they involve not only Christians but also Jews in the dialogue, and take as a theme the living together in the Swiss society.


About a New Religion-political Question

At different places of Switzerland in training centres for intercultural communication, for mediation in conflicts, for development aid, missionary actions ... one begins explicitly to deal with questions of the inter-religious dialogue {19}. Also the "Administration for Development and Co-operation" (DEZA) of the federation launched under the direction of Anne Marie Holenstein a working process of several years about the importance and role of religion and spirituality in development- and humanitarian co-operation {20}.

It seems characteristic for most initiatives that they modify the secularization thesis somewhat, and are led from a socio-political motivation which lets them take the factor religion seriously. The objectives are always the peaceful and just living together of the societies, states and cultures in a globalized world. Since one gradually realizes after the devastating religion critique of the modern age that religions are not to be understood only as unimportant superstructure or private decoration but that they endow sense and identity to all social groups, also national and religious organizations found to a new co-operation within this range.

Religions are - in the view of their peace-promoting task - called to account, and of their healing potential should be made use. In contrast to this their confronting side is to a large extent faded out, and mostly the truth question is explicitly evaded. One rather presupposes tacitly for this socially acceptable and popular level of inter-religious co-operation that all religious systems are to a large extent equivalent. Distorted forms of religion, such as fundamentalism and sects, are differentiated from it. Also the evaluation and classification of religion by an enlightened and human world view that is sociopolitically supported by the human rights and a democracy founded on the rule of law,



is shared to a large extent. In this respect the view of the comparative religious studies and of the pluralist theology of religion found a wide resonance in Swiss society, and supports many initiatives in form of a pragmatic co-operation. Also many members of the traditional Regional Churches got accustomed to a pluralism of religions and consider it in the meantime also as normative world view, without seeing any longer tensions to a Christian claim to truth resp. without being worried about the missionary work of the church.

To this development of a popular and directly socio-politically practised inter-religious dialogue corresponds on the other hand the formation both of Catholic and of Reformed and Evangelist Free Church circles that had a strong upswing in the last years in Switzerland. They see the dialogue projects only as functionalization and flattening of religion, up to a sellout of Christianity. While t h e y for this reason do not get involved in the inter-religious discussion, many Muslim and Buddhist groupings, which for their part also stand by the claim to truth (which at bottom contradicts to a pluralism of religions), take part in it for pragmatic reasons. Just so they can improve socially, politically and legally their situation, whereby the appropriate Christian communities - due to their historically grown social privileges - do not pursue such interest.

The inter-religious dialogue of some theologically and scientifically trained representatives of the Regional Churches and of Jewish communities presents a quite different picture. They pursue their interests often differentiated and on different levels: They engage themselves from social conviction in the meeting of religious communities, and cooperate in a religiously pluralist society for the sake of pragmatic reasons. Besides they often see themselves as citizens of an enlightened civil society. At the same time they are aware that dialogue and communication are not only a sociological order of the day, but are also deeply fed from a Biblical concept. Dialogue, the etymology of which means "by the word", belongs to the basic principle how the Bible understands divine and human activity.

Hence dialogue belongs for them not only to the social central task of religion, but is - since the philosophy and theology of dialogue - seen as the way of revelation, of the special Testament between God and man, and of the union among God's creatures in general {21}. Thus for them dialogue is theologically filled, and stands as alternative to the encounter with the others "by force". On the other hand the representatives of the established religious communities often hold also to their missionary work and to their claim to truth, but they take them - from strategic reasons - not always as themes. When it is done nevertheless, as for example by Kurt Koch in view of an inter-religious event



of the Katharina-Werk (an ecumenical institution with inter-religious orientation) in April 2006 in Basel, then in order to lift the meeting of religions out of banality, and to make it aware of the responsibility and scope of the task.


Inter-religious Competence by Training and Further Education

In co-operation with Hans Küng's "Foundation World-Ethos Switzerland" the "Lassalle-House" in Bad Schönbrunn began in spring 2006 with twenty five participants a first trainings course for inter-religious competence at the level of an 'post-graduate course of study'. It has as a theme the sociopolitical as well as the world-descriptive-theological and religion-scientific aspects of inter-religious dialogue {22}. The one year's training programme imparts basic knowledge about religions, gives the oportunity to meet representatives of various religions, enables to classify the phenomenon 'religion' sociologically, to acquaint oneself with different models of dialogue, and to work with such a model in order to develop inter-religious sensitivity. There a lot of dialogue experiences can flow in, since both bodies responsible for the project have already a longer history. The Foundation World Ethos is not only active throughout the the world, as for example at the Parliament of the World Religions 2004, but accomplished in Switzerland already many offers in the field of adult education.

The Lassalle-House cultivates since 1993 the Buddhist-Christian dialogue, and attached thereby from the outset a central value to the spiritual experience. Zen meditation became a central place of the dialogue. In the last five years also the dialogue between the Abrahamitic religions has been greatly extended, so that in 2005 a multi-religious, four-day conference on "Mysticism and Peace" could be accomplished in co-operation with the "Museum for World Religions" in Taipei and the "Elija Institute" in Jerusalem. The special emphasis in the Jewish-Christian discussion of the Lassalle-House, that understands itself as center for spirituality, inter-religious dialogue and social responsibility, can be seen also in the current project. It prepares for July 2007 a larger conference on the occasion of sixty years of Jewish-Christian dialogue since the Shoah {23}. This co-operation with the "Institute for Jewish-Christian Research" at the University of Luzern (IJCF), with the "Jewish / Roman-Catholic Discussion Commission" (JRGK) of the Swiss bishops, and with the "Schweizerisch Israelitischer Gemeindebund" (SIG) has the long-term aim to institutionalize also in the Catholic Church of Switzerland an annually returning day for the communication with Judaism.

Apart from the "Christian-Jewish Working Group" (CJA) above all the "Züricher Lehrhaus" rendered outstanding services to a qualified dialogue between Christians and Jews.



It applies the Jewish 'Lehrhaus' (training house) tradition, similarly as Franz Rosenzweig and Martin Buber sought to realize it, to the inter-religious dialogue. With the magazine "Lamed", that belongs like the 'Lehrhaus' to the "Stiftung für Kirche und Judentum" (Foundation for Church and Judaism), one allows the present time to benefit from the tradition - always also in view of Islam. Social and cultural education work about Islam and the Arab world is also offered by the "Paulus Akademie" in Zurich, that is maintained by the Catholic Church.


From Old Oriental Canaan to Postmodernism

Finally is referred to two university projects that influence directly the society beyond the university walls. Under the title "Vertical Ecumene. Memory Work in the Service of Inter-religious Dialogue" Thomas Staubli published in 2005 a small collection of essays, where he makes us realize the handing down of cultural goods from the old oriental, Canaan religion over Judaism, Christianity and Islam up to Enlightenment and postmodernism {24}.

The idea and vision of the "Vertical Ecumenism" come from Othmar Keel, the in the meantime retired exegete for Old Testament at the University Fribourg. Keel suggests for the breaks in the just mentioned historical development a kind of sozio-cultural psychotherapy by memory work between the religious communities as well as between those who are responsible for the educational and cultural policy. Only so the mutually caused injuries could be healed, and those things that are sup- or repressed and projected outward could be integrated. To do this the "Foundation BIBLE + ORIENT" was launched {25}. Beside scientific book series also the university collection in Fribourg with 14.000 archaeological original objects from the Middle East can be made accessible to the public. The in 2005 opened exhibition is to become part of a planned museum that will get its symbolically important place in a tower of the old part of the town. While the construction of this museum is still in the planning phase, there have been twelve exhibitions already at different places at home and abroad since 2000. This novel enterprise might greatly enrich the knowledge about the historical growth of the three Abrahamitic religions and their effect on the globalized world.

Also the in spring 2006 opened "Center for Religion, Economics and Politics" at the University Zurich, that is maintained by the University Luzern too, displays the interest to make religion again the theme in the context of the development of society {26}. It be mentioned here even if it does not pursue directly a inter-religious aim, but wants to be a platform for a project-related, interdisciplinary argument in the mentioned range of topics and to establish for this a master training course.



The thematic main focus is directed at the training of Imams in Switzerland, at the Islamic financial world, the imparting of religious values, the future ability of the ideologically neutral state, the early diagnosis of religiously caused conflicts as well as at projects that are concerned with the structures of religious legitimation or destabilization of power and rule. One has to wait for first results.

It became visible by this stocktaking, how with great enjoyment of innovation and from a felt necessity new projects have been developed in the course of the return of the religious reality. It is to be hoped that those who came into the inheritance of Enlightenment - now even more enlightened on the phenomenon 'religion' -, will find a new way to criticize religion, a critique that really deserves this name, and does no longer want to clear away religion or to suppress it.

That religious communities can only win by philosophical critique, and that the world needs an "enlightened religion" is understood by everyone to whom the human living together on planet earth matters. It is necessary that the inter-religious dialogue at the various levels is not seen as reactionary collaboration of the religions against the often deplored decline of the modern age, but that it is led in the discussion with Enlightenment. It is to whish that Christianity, which - because it was obligated to the truth - was from its beginnings rather ill disposed towards other religions, but opened from the outset to the Greek philosophy and had now also to go through the critique of the modern age -, will make its best contributions to this development.



{1} Statistisches Jahrbuch der Schweiz 2005, edited by Bundesamt für Statistik (Zürich 2005) 47.

{2} Detailed informations about the Muslims in Switzerland see For a self representation see:

{3} Statistisches Jahrbuch (Note 1).

{4} Freedom of Religion and Integration - At the example of the Swiss Muslims, passed on 28 April 2006.

{5} See e.g. M. Riesebrodt, Die Rückkehr der Religionen. Fundamentalismus u. der "Kampf der Kulturen" (München 2000); F.W.Graf, Die Wiederkehr der Götter. Religion in der modernen Kultur (München 2004).

{6} Zen u. christliche Spiritualität. Eine Zwischenbilanz, in: K. Baier, Handbuch Spiritualität. Zugänge, Traditionen, Interreligiöse Prozesse. (Darmstadt 2006) 304-328. In the Lassalle-House Bad Schönbrunn, one of the largest centres for Zen-meditation in Switzerland, more than 1600 people take part in Zen-courses yearly.

{7} To get from: Schweizerisches Pastoralsoziologisches Institut St. Gallen

{8} The document can be found under:

{9} The mandate can be found under:



{10} See statutes Art. 2





{15} About the project there is an article and pictures in: GEO, 2006/5, 1-30.

{16} It can be found on the homepage of the cantonal Competence Centre for Integrations

{17} Informations of the 'Haus der Religionen - Dialog der Kulturen' July 2006.


{19} I want to draw your attention to the 'Training for Intercultural Animation' offered by the Romero-House in Luzern in co-operation with the Caritas and national institutions for integration

{20} For an interim bilance see A.-M. Holenstein, Rolle u. Bedeutung von Religion und Spiritualität in der Entwicklungszusammenarbeit. Ein Reflexions- u. Arbeitspapier (Bern 2006). You can get it from

{21} Martin Buber's philosophy of dialogue had here an enormous influence. About 'dialog as theological principle in the official Roman-Catholic doctrine since the Second Vatican Council see: L. Kyou-Sung, Konziliare u. päpstliche Beiträge zum interreligiösen Dialog im 20. Jahrhundert (Frankfurt 2003). About church and dialogue today see: Zeugnis und Dialog. Die katholische Kirche in der neuzeitlichen Welt u. das II. Vatikanische Konzil, edited by W. Weiss (Würzburg 1996).

{22}; Since July 2006 the foundation 'Weltethos Schweiz' has its office in the Lassalle-House Bad Schönbrunn.

{23} From 30 July to 7 August 1947 Jewish and Christian representatives met in the centre of Switzerland at the so-called "Seelisberg-Konferenz", in order to begin with a '10-Punkte-Programm' the Christian discussion after the Shoa.

{24} Vertikale Ökumene. Erinnerungsarbeit im Dienst des interreligiösen Dialogs, edited by Th. Staubli (Fribourg 2005).




Link to 'Public Con-Spiracy for-with-of the Poor'