Opening of Bavarian Research Centre for Interreligious Discourse

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The Bavarian Research Centre for Interreligious Discourse (BaFID) based at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) aims to explore and encourage dialogue between the religions. The official opening ceremony for BaFID was held in April 2021. From left: FAU President Prof. Dr. Joachim Hornegger, FAU-Kanzler Christian Zens, BaFID Director Prof. Dr. George Tamer, the Bavarian Minister of the Interior Joachim Herrmann and the Bavarian science minister Bernd Sibler. (Image: FAU/Harald Sippel)

Dialogue between the religions

Exploring and encouraging dialogue between religions is more important than ever in view of terrorism, anti-Semitism, hostility towards Muslims, growing numbers of Islamic refugees migrating to Europe and acts of violence committed in the name of religion. The Bavarian Research Centre for Interreligious Discourse (BaFID) at FAU is committed to promoting mutual dialogue between the religions. The institution which is funded by the Free State of Bavaria and was established last year has now celebrated its official opening.

‘The three monotheistic religions are not strictly isolated, they thrive on discussion and are open to different views both from within their own confines and from other religions too. You just need to look at them through the right lenses to perceive how well they lend themselves to discourse,’ said BaFID Director Prof. Dr. Georges Tamer during the opening ceremony. ‘Showing, analysing and investigating the impact the inherently discursive nature of these three religions has on their co-existence is not only desirable from an academic point of view, it is a necessity from the point of view of society and politics.

The new Research Centre, the only one of its kind in Germany, not only conducts fundamental research on Judaism, Christianity and Islam but also transfers its findings and knowledge to society as a whole. Reflecting the increasingly important role played by knowledge transfer in Bavarian universities, BaFID is taking an innovative approach tailored to the various target groups, encouraging interaction via social media and providing their website in three languages. The Centre is also keen to make their services easily accessible to immigrants or refugees whose German is not yet up to scratch. The main aims of the academic institution are to encourage greater understanding between the religions, to allow people of different faiths to live together in harmony and to strengthen social cohesion on a free democratic basis.

FAU President Prof. Dr. Joachim Hornegger, who attended the ceremony together with Chancellor Christian Zens, stressed how well BaFID fits to FAU. Encouraging dialogue between Judaism, Christianity and Islam means calling for tolerance and welcoming a critical approach. These are the values upon which our University was founded and which are still the most important values for FAU today,’ said Prof. Hornegger.

‘With the Bavarian Research Centre for Interreligious Discourses, FAU is once more making a valuable contribution to research whose significance reaches far beyond academic circles,’ said Joachim Herrmann, Bavarian Minister of the Interior for Sport and Integration, in his speech. Herrmann is also the Chairman of the BaFID Board of Trustees, an advisory board comprising representatives from politics, science, business, administration, culture and the media. ‘The new centre is exceptionally important for our country and those who live here, as interreligious understanding is more important today than ever before. It has an essential role to play in making a success of integration, and in encouraging people of different faiths to co-exist in peace and harmony. We take our responsibility towards society as a whole very seriously. We have therefore agreed to provide the new BaFID with approximately 860,000 euros in funding from the budget of the Ministry of the Interior and Integration,’ explained Herrmann.

Bernd Sibler, Bavarian State Minister of Science and the Arts, emphasised that ‘rapprochement, understanding and integration are built upon discourse and dialogue. Anyone who knows and respects the religion of their counterparts finds it easier to approach them with esteem, empathy and respect. The new Research Centre has a valuable contribution to make in this respect. At the same time, it is a shining example of how society can benefit from academic work in the social sciences and humanities and the transfer of its findings.’

Further information:

Kirsten Waltert


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