Interfaith SA

To create a space where leadership and laypeople from different faiths integrate and from their religious perspective send a message of tolerance, peace, inclusion and integration to their own communities and to the public at large.

CAMPAIGN OBJECTIVES

The campaign is aimed at errasing the fictitious barriers between different faiths and to foster a wide understanding of our society to make it more humane and inclusive highlighting that human beings have more similarities than differences, regardless of their beliefs, background, race, gender, sexual preference or nationality.

HOW THE OBJECTIVES WERE ACHIEVED

Throughout a series of ongoing events, Saar Shaked, a Jewish Rabbi has been able to congregate in different points of the South African scene, which includes leaders and lay people from various faiths, including Christian, Catholic, Muslim, Bahai and Hindu, and has created bridges through his charismatic approach to interfaith integration and learning. Participation in events of other faiths such as the St. Augustine series of lectures has also been pivotal for the achievement of the interfaith integration campaign.

CAMPAIGN INNOVATIONS

Instead of arranging interfaith events on their own, topics of interest have been proposed, to create an incentive for people of different faiths to participate, integrate, get to know each other and lose their fear of different people. An interfaith gig, with songs from all faiths was the kick starter of this campaign in 2013 and it has been followed by a series of talks, events, movies, seminars, and joint participation in civil action such as resistance to the police operation against foreigners and constant building of relations and bridges, even with the most difficult communities to approach.

CAMPAIGN IMPACT

Once people get to know each other, they lose fear on the practices and beliefs of the others and this is a crucial factor for the creation of social tissue. At the leadership level, many collaboration partnerships have been created and at the micro level of people getting to know other religions from the inside has reduced the possibility of uninformed hatred and action from religious people in the communities of central Johannesburg.

CHALLENGES FACED

Outreach has always been a big challenge as well as budget for the fruition of bigger events. Resistance from the ultra conservative groups of all religions has also been a challenge and apparent incompatibility of interfaith coexistence due to some religious beliefs has proven to be a challenge.

LESSONS LEARNT

Persistence and patience are required to persuade reluctant members of different communities, their trust is difficult to earn and very easily lost. It is important to research and highlight common ground and construct a relation from the matters in common. Music tends to be a very uniting factor, as well as opposition to human atrocities and common sense. Perhaps the most important lesson provided by R. Saar is that it doesn't matter whether many people respond to the calls, whether we are able to congregate masses, small groups or very few people, the effort to make the world a more just place must go on with equal enthusiasm.