“Presbyterian Principles for Interfaith Dialogue”

Adopted by the 211th General Assembly (1999)

Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A)


1. Pluralistic U.S. and global societies are the context within which Christians relate to people of other faiths.

Christians live among people grounded in other religions and ideologies, or in none. If our immediate circle of neighbors or friends does not reveal the religious plurality of the world, we need look no further than our cities, our nation, and our globally‐connected world to see the diverse religious traditions which increasingly intermingle there. In this environment, persons and communities affect one another even when they are unaware of doing so.1 Pluralistic U.S. and global societies are the context within which Christians relate to people of other faiths.Christians live among people grounded in other religions and ideologies, or in none. If our immediate circle of neighbors or friends does not reveal the religious plurality of the world, we need look no further than our cities, our nation, and our globally‐connected world to see the diverse religious traditions which increasingly intermingle there. In this environment, persons and communities affect one another even when they are unaware of doing so.

3. We are called to work with others in our pluralistic societies for the well‐being of our world and for justice, peace, and the sustainability of creation. We do so in the faith that, through God’s Spirit, the Church is a sign and means of God’s intention for the wholeness and unity of humankind and of all creation.

At a time when the cultural hegemony of the Christian religion in many parts of the world is waning, we may have new roles among other people.

• When religion is used for purposes of power, and when religion is manipulated as an instrument of conflict, our role is to be peacemakers and peacekeepers.

• When all inhabitants of the planet bear joint responsibility for its life (e.g., for the environment or the globalized economy), our role is to cooperate with others in seeking mutually acceptable ethical standards for behavior.

• When privilege is granted to some and denied others, our role is to be advocates for others’ freedom, just as Jesus approached others with full awareness of their freedom.

• When persecution is unleashed upon fellow Christians or upon other religious communities, our role is to champion the cause of those marginalized by their minority status and to practice our own faith in ways that do not abridge the freedoms of others.

5. We are called to relate to people of other faiths in full humility, openness, honesty, and respect. We respect both others’ God‐given humanity and the seriousness of their spiritual quests and commitments. It is our Christian faith in the Triune God and our intention to live like Jesus, not our cultural standards, that require this of us.

• We recognize that all religions, including our own, stand under the judgment of God and we acknowledge our own sins against others both in the historical past and in our own times. These realities keep us from condemnation of others while they encourage our own commitment to the Christ who forgives and reconciles.

• We recognize that our culture relativizes and privatizes all religion‐‐propagating marketplace attitudes toward religious choices. We pray for God’s power to live in firm commitment without trampling upon the God‐given freedom that Jesus respected and challenged in all persons. In our journey, we are helped by ecumenical partners around the world who, with us, are part of the church yet who live with different cultural values.

• We recognize the integrity of others’ religious traditions yet we avoid any attempt to create some new religious community by merging our separate identity with theirs.

[Excerpted from “Presbyterian Principles for Interfaith Dialogue.” The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). www.pcusa.org. PDF available online.]