Multi-faith and dialogue: Multi-faith dialogue is a two-way process; it involves listening to the other and attempting to understand their views while offering your own. Dialogue cannot be confused with debate. The purpose of a debate is to make the best argument in order to prove your point right. The purpose of dialogue is to explore both points of view with an attitude of respect. In our increasingly secularised and religiously diverse society, there has never been a more important time for people of faith to come together to promote the values of community, justice and peace. Multi-faith dialogue has the potential to create opportunities for people of faith to come together and address injustice within our society. The Catholic Church identifies four major types of multi-faith dialogue. They are: 1. Dialogue of Life 2. Dialogue of Action 3. Dialogue of Theological Exchange 4. Dialogue of Religious Experience (Dialogue and Proclamation, Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue, 1984, #42)
Religious Discourse in the Public Domain: Religion is an important cultural, social and political phenomenon. While there appears to be a noticeable decline in formal religious affiliation levels in the Australian census, religious references abound in society. The major public holidays in our calendar mark significant celebrations within the Christian calendar, such as Easter and Christmas. Christian rituals and principles have also been absorbed into popular culture and public discourse. Celebrations of religious significance for Jews, Buddhists, Muslims and Hindus are visible in public spaces. The religious dimension of life can be expressed in a variety of ways. Schools are one of the first places where children have daily contact with a range of religions and world views.
Religious Diversity: Religions can manifest themselves in a variety of ways in the day to day life of schools, from students wearing distinctive religious symbols including clothing, to fulfilling ritual requirements such as praying five times a day, or observing dietary requirements. Children need to know about religion and it is a child's right to be prepared appropriately for life as a citizen playing a full part in democracy with an openness to diversity and a feeling of belonging to the community as a whole. Australia is not alone in struggling with issues of religious diversity. All states today, including those who perceive themselves to be secular, are challenged to have cognisance of religious diversity. While a dominant faith community needs to be acknowledged, the significant role of minority religious groups in society should not be ignored. The need for freedom of religion, including its public expression, must also be acknowledged.