Some Principles for Interreligious Dialogue

[Adapted from Leonard Swidler, "The Dialogue Decalogue," Journal of Ecumenical Studies 20/1:1-4.]


  1. Enter into dialogue so that you can learn and grow; not to change the other.

  2. Be conscious of the need to allow people the space to enter the discussion. Some people are more sheepish about offering their thoughts, but will be encouraged to do so if more outspoken persons avoid dominating the exchange.

  3. Everyone must be honest and sincere, even if that means revealing discomforts with your own tradition or that of the other. Everyone must assume that everyone else is being equally honest and sincere.

  4. Everyone must be permitted to define their own religious experience and identity, and this must be respected by others.

  5. Proselytizing or seeking to "convert" the conversation partner is not permitted in an interreligious dialogue setting. Participants should feel free to express their own faith traditions and beliefs, but not try to persuade others to assent to them.

  6. Don’t feel that you are the spokesperson for your entire faith tradition or that you ought somehow to know everything there is to know about it. Admit any confusion or uncertainty you might have if a puzzling question arises.

  7. Don’t assume in advance where points of agreement or disagreement will exist.

  8. Everyone should be willing to be self-critical.

  9. All should strive to experience the other’s faith "from within" and be prepared to view themselves differently as a result of an "outside" perspective.

  10. Trust is a must.