Inter-religious & outside the box

December 29th, 2015 12:14 pm

MalenaMalena Tara studies Mathematics and Geography for Teaching in Bremen, Germany. Baptized in a very young age in a catholic church, she got interested in the Christian faith during her stay in England and visited the Anglican Church regularly. Today she is an active member of the protestant SCM in Germany. In her free time she likes to draw and discover other countries with all their cultural differences.

MiriamMiriam Schubert has a BA in Literature and Film Studies, and now studies Theology in Rostock near the Baltic Sea. She was and is part of several SCM parishes in Germany and loves to work there, hold prayers, organize events etc.. Drawing and traveling are two of her favorite hobbies.
Malena’s and Miriam’s joint testimonial follows the Religion and Politics conference in Czech Republic in October 2015.

 

The Theology conference of the World Student Christian Federation of Europe (WSCF-E) took place in Litomysl, Czech Republic, from 17th until the 23rd October. The topic was ‘Religions and Politics: How is Multiculturalism Possible?’.

The preparation Committee for the conference already included members of the WSCF-E as well as the European Union of Jewish Students (EUJS). Therefore a perfect foundation for an inter-religious dialogue was set. Jewish and also Christians presented socially relevant topics. They themselves, further Jewish and Christian students and also guests from the local Muslim communities as well as Muslim students took part in our discussions. As there were approximately fifteen nationalities represented in the conference, there was not only the possibility to discuss theoretically about topics, but also to listen to very diverse and personal experiences from different countries and backgrounds. So, this was a perfect setting for good and interesting discussions and a promising conference! And we weren’t to be disappointed.

We dedicated the first two days to the topics “Multiculturalism and Secularism” as well as “Religion in the Public Domain”. Besides listening to presentations we also discussed about the issues, e. g. we all took part in a role play. The role play was set in an imaginative town. We had to decide whether we want to build a mosque or not. Another topic was euthanasia and if it should be allowed.

The following Wednesday we did a day trip to Prague. We visited the Muslim community and therefore were able to get an inside in the viewpoints represented in Islam and also about the difficult situation Muslims are in in a secularized country like the Czech Republic. Later on that day a representative of the Jewish community showed us the Jewish Quarter of Prague. We visited the Old Jewish Graveyard, different synagogues and listened to its history. We also had some hours in between the tours so that we could discover the fascinating town of Prague on our own.

The next day we listened to a presentation about “Freedom of Religion in the European Union”. We were introduced to different laws which have led to very controversial debates regarding the banning of wearing a headscarf in France, or rather in public spheres in general. Of course, we as the audience also had very different opinions on it, which made the discussions even more interesting.

Later a penal discussion took place with two of our Christian speakers, Rabbi Tanya Segal and the Muslim representative Zuzana Amrani. The topic of the discussion was “Secularism in Europe”.

On the last day, we closed the conference with panel discussions in which we ourselves had the chance to enter the debate. To participate, we had drawn propositions at the beginning of the conference and we had to argue for or against the statements we got. In this way, very different topics, discussions and opinions were raised.

All in all, the conference was a unique experience, creating a lot of space to discover a lot of new things:

There was space to think in depth about how religious and political topics are entangled and how they allude to the multicultural and secular Europe we, today, live in. The thoughts and debates gave us the possibility to think outside the box.

And also, there was a lot of space to get to know each other and the different religions, denominations and nations we come from. Suddenly, we linked the different nationalities in Europe – and also Chile, Philippines, Indonesia and the USA –  to different faces and personal life stories.

We and, for sure, also the other participants took home new knowledge and new thoughts as well as new acquaintanceships and even new friendships.

Miriam Schubert & Malena Tara, SCM Germany

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