How can we protect our religion?

Religious diversity - a challenge to our actions

The Diakonia and Development Conference underlines that

  • The mission of the Evangelical Work for Diakonia and Development applies indiscriminately to all people who live in physical need, emotional distress, poverty, unjust and violent conditions. The work names and reveals the causes of these needs and contributes to their elimination.
  • the right of every human being to practice and live his religion in freedom is to be respected and to be protected. Religious freedom is the basis for an inclusive, pluralistic community that is concerned with equilibrium and participation and for peaceful development based on human dignity.
  • witness to the Christian faith and interreligious dialogue do not constitute a contradiction. It is precisely one's own certainty of faith that can expose itself to the certainty of others without fear and seek common ground with other religions in a way from which coexistence in any society can only benefit.

I. The positive handling of religious diversity in our national work Intercultural opening, religious and culturally sensitive offers as an opportunity and challenge for the work of diakonia

Today diaconal work takes place in an increasingly multi-religious context. In Germany we are experiencing an expansion of the spectrum of Christian denominations and other religious communities such as Islam, as well as a diversification and individualization of forms of belief. The Diakonie addresses itself with its offers, according to its biblical as well as its public mandate, to all people. It develops religiously and culturally sensitive offers and takes care of an intercultural opening of its services and facilities. Intercultural opening is a management task that is given a solid foundation through cultural and organizational development.

  • The Diakonia and Development conference regards religious diversity as a social asset. The conference for diakonia and development encourages diakonia to consistently continue the process of intercultural opening of all offers.

Muslims as partners in welfare work

The growing religious diversity in our society is currently receiving new impulses from the question of Muslim welfare. The history of the development of the established welfare associations shows that a sustainable and convincing development of welfare care begins at the municipal level and must first prove itself there.

  • The Diakonie and Development conference welcomes the establishment of a Muslim welfare system that ensures that its services are available to all people without discrimination. Diakonie is open to constructive-critical dialogue and is available to help build Muslim welfare with its know-how.

Diaconal engagement against group-related misanthropy, religious discrimination and racism

Diakonie meets the increasing social challenge of group-related enmity, religious and racist discrimination and right-wing extremism, among other things with its participation in the Intercultural Week, offers of racism-critical educational work and by promoting and strengthening those affected by discrimination. As a civil society actor, she advocates an open society in politics and administration as well as a consistent advocacy of all forms of direct and indirect discrimination and the consistent prosecution of racist violence.

  • The Diakonie and Development conference clearly opposes all forms of right-wing populism and racist agitation and all forms of right-wing extremism. Racism-critical and religion-sensitive educational work inside and outside the school educational institutions as well as the empowerment and support of victims of discrimination should be promoted on a sustainable basis.

Diversity as a requirement in diaconal work

The task of promoting an attitude of respect between denominations and religions as well as their dialogue with one another is also increasing in relation to the full-time and voluntary employees of the diakonia. Technical requirements for work in multi-religious contexts, in interreligious dialogue and in collaborations require special qualifications and in-service training. The effort to diversify in diaconal institutions must be combined with increased efforts to raise the diaconal and ecclesiastical profile of the institutions.

  • Further theological, legal and conceptual work is required to develop the Christian profile of diaconal institutions in the face of increasing diversification.

Expectations from politics

An inclusive, open society enables everyone to participate fully, to have non-discriminatory access to the labor and housing market and to social security. A policy of isolation and exclusion is counterproductive and divides society.

  • The Diakonie and Development conference calls on all politically responsible persons to consistently punish racist violence and discrimination in all areas of society and to investigate racist motives for criminal offenses,
  • to set up independent complaints offices
  • and develop a code of conduct for political parties.

II. The positive handling of religious diversity in our international work Promote the peace-building role of religious communities in violent conflicts

Growing social inequality and the associated destruction of social cohesion in many societies, resource conflicts and political power conflicts within and between states are increasing. In many cases, conflicts are charged by the opponents with religious reasons and values ​​for the purpose of mobilization.

In the course of this, the persecution of people of other religions - especially when it comes to minorities - by state organs and by non-state violent actors is increasing. Violent confrontations between followers of different religions and between different currents of faith communities are also increasing. Actors of violence often use religious arguments to justify violence. Religious affiliation is also often used as an explanatory model for violent conflicts. Religion is therefore more and more often a factor in conflict, even if it is usually not an actual cause of the conflict. However, religion and religious actors also have great potential for peace and actively contribute it in favor of non-violent conflict resolution. Differentiated individual analyzes are therefore necessary in order to understand the role and potential of religious actors in violent conflicts, to increase their resistance to the mobilization of violence and to be able to design their programs to promote peace ('do no harm').

This religious charge of violent conflicts gives religious leaders worldwide a major task in maintaining or regaining peace and in the work of reconciliation and peacebuilding. Understanding of religious freedom, tolerance and an inclusive, pluralistic community that is concerned with balance and participation are the indispensable foundations for peaceful development based on human dignity and rights. Religious leaders must oppose the exclusion and persecution of other religious groups or minorities without distinction.

In order to develop and maintain an understanding of their responsibility and their specific options for action, religious leaders depend on a critical self-reflection of the role of their religious communities in violent contexts and on inter-religious dialogue and cooperation. Some of them need support. Partners who are involved in interreligious peace work and who themselves become the target of violent actors need protection.

  • The conference would like to see particular attention and protection efforts devoted to contexts of violence and situations in which minorities of all kinds are persecuted and civil society as a whole is exposed to increasing restrictions and repression.
  • The conference underlines the need to counter the model of the “struggle of religions” as well as the increasing disregard for religious freedom,
  • to counter simplistic accusations and condemnations of other religious communities or their members with differentiated conflict analyzes of the specific social, economic and political context and with peace education programs, etc.,
  • To systematically seek and promote dialogue and cooperation across the borders of the religious communities, especially in conflict situations, while disregarding ideological 'contact barriers',
  • to support the reflection of their own responsibility and the ability of church leaders to act in their commitment to human rights, peace, justice and the environment.

Promote plurality, tolerance and democracy

Religious intolerance and the denial of religious freedom are to be understood in connection with the ideologically justified rejection of the inalienable personal rights of humans codified in the human rights conventions. The questioning of religious plurality is in some places just an expression of the striving for homogeneity instead of diversity. Democracy as well as political, religious, ethnic, cultural and other pluralism - explicit funding goals of Bread for the World - are increasingly experiencing political devaluation worldwide. Some states - even in Europe - and right-wing radicals or other groups hostile to democracy and peace are increasingly propagating the ethnic, national, religious homogenization of nation states as an ideal (at the expense of minorities) and treating minorities or immigrants / refugees with prejudice (ung ) s, exclusion and defense. The consolidation of power of anti-democratic governments and the economic interests they protect goes hand in hand with ever increasing restrictions on the scope of civil society. According to the Civil Society Watch Report 2014, the rights of civil society are severely limited by law in a total of 96 countries, including many BRICs countries. In this respect, in addition to projects and project partners who are engaged in interreligious dialogues and peace work, many others, especially those who pursue a rights-based approach in their work, are the target of repression and threats.

  • The conference affirms that in all funding measures of the Bread for the World and Diakonie Deutschland organizations, care must be taken to ensure that:
  • that they benefit people regardless of which religion they belong to and that no project partner is allowed to exclude those in need due to their religious or denominational affiliation from their measures,
  • that support measures do not harm the religious feelings and idiosyncrasies of the target groups and do not contribute directly or indirectly to the discrimination of individual religious groups and / or to religious conflicts.
  • The conference reaffirms the principle that - if the preferential option for church partners is retained - organizations of all religious stripes can be partners of the work, provided they share our ethical principles and for their part practice religious tolerance and advocate religious peace.
  • At the same time, she sees the need to strengthen the contribution of Christian communities in society, especially where minority churches are under great pressure and rely on a positive, visible contribution to the common good; she also sees the need to promote the protection of other religious minorities.
  • It encourages the work to continue in its political endeavors to help strengthen, protect and defend the space for dialogue, for economic, social and political participation of all ethnic groups and religious groups living in the country.

Expectations of the federal government

70 years after the Charter of the United Nations came into force, the Diakonie and Development Conference expects the Federal Government to

  • to work increasingly internationally for the protection of the inalienable right of all people to exercise their religion freely,
  • advocate for the preservation and expansion of space for civil society in all intergovernmental and international negotiations, and advocate the strengthening of international structures and mechanisms (UN, OSCE, etc.) to contain violence and to deal with violent conflicts with civil society To use funds
  • Promote the inclusion of religious leaders in political mediation and reconciliation efforts in conflict regions, as well as interreligious dialogue and cooperation.

Berlin, October 2015

Revised by the board of directors, status 02/03/2016