Volume 3, No 4, 2006
Texting Tolerance: Computer-Mediated Interfaith Dialogue
As religious unrest and tension rise throughout the world, facilitating interfaith dialogue has become more important than ever. Many religious organizations have begun to include interfaith discourse into their general religious programming for members and some hold regular dialogue groups for their local population. But face to face events tend to focus only on the local community, excluding distant others who also seek to participate in interreligious discourse. The Internet, therefore, is an important medium to utilize for interfaith dialogue, and can bring isolated people together to discuss issues of difference and faith. This project finds that online interfaith information is excellent for congregations to utilize because of the relatively anonymous nature of the Internet, the disappearance of proximity limitation, the ability to become close with other participants, access to a spectrum of people who practice a particular religion, and the extra time available to ponder moderator questions and previous discussions. Using the Internet for interfaith dialogue is an important step for religious institutions and congregations. Not only are they reaching to their own members through cyberspace, but also reaching the larger population, sharing their range of religious beliefs, and participating in a global effort to improve tolerance and understanding between religious practitioners.
Keywords: Interfaith dialogue; Online; Religion; Interreligious discourse; Dialogue; Internet