Current Interfaith Guidelines: An Overview

“The Dialogue Decalogue”

One of the most commonly cited sets of guidelines for inter-religious dialogue is “The Dialogue Decalogue,” by Leonard Swidler, of Temple University, published in 1983 and revised in 1984. These guidelines originally appeared in The Journal of Ecumenical Studies (founded by Swidler and his wife in 1964). The document is on reading lists for interfaith courses, including those at Auburn and Hartford Seminaries; it’s been adopted as the basis for many dialogues; and it has been copied and/or adapted countless times in the last 25+ years. (Nowhere does it mention women or gender.)

In 2004, Ian Markham, of Virginia Theological Seminary, developed a New_Decalogue including a commandment to “recognize any political, economic, or gender issues in the dialogue.” He explains:
…The need to confront the political, social, cultural, and gender issues in the dialogue is an imperative forced on us by our understanding of what is disclosed in a variety of faith traditions. The dialogue needs to operate in a justice framework.

This “new” commandment does not seem to have influenced basic guidelines for inter-religious dialogue.

An Unscientific Survey

An unscientific but relatively thorough examination of guidelines for inter-religious dialogue available on the web yields many (tens of thousands) without explicit mention of gender — at least according to search engines and an occasional complete reading.
A smattering of dialogue guidelines without any mention of gender:

Jewish Community Center of Victoria (Australia)

“A Guide to Muslim Interfaith Dialogue”  (American Islamic Conference)

“Thirty Commandments” of Interreligious Dialogue (Clergy Beyond Borders)

Guidelines for Interfaith Dialogue, an Anglican publication, does not reference gender, but the same organization’s worship guidelines do suggest that “Participants should be sensitive…to the possibility of gender separation.”

The single exception discovered so far is the Church of Norway’s “Guiding Principles on Interreligious Relations,”,” which includes a section on gender and one on power.

Anyone with additional examples is encouraged to submit them.

Questions for gender-aware guidelines

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