How Does FRD Accomplish Its Purposes?

FRD aims for pattern-breaking social change by facilitating honest conversations between people with conflicting ideals and rival world views. Through a method of honest and respectful conversation people of integrity with opposing religious or ideological beliefs come to mutually trust their motives and intelligence without compromising their beliefs. Feelings of respect and even love replace contempt and suspicion. This prompts a desire to engage the contest of differences with patient mutual persuasion without forcing a final resolution. This leads to the desire to thrive together as respectful rivals in the social tension of co-resistance and collaboration that differing perspectives inevitably produce.

FRD is developing a trustworthy communication network between representatives of diverse religious or ideological groups. FRD provides an ‘interreligious space’ (via conferences, private meetings, and a safe Internet platform) for all respectful communities to share, compare, admire and contest their different sacred stories, doctrines and practices. In all encounters FRD facilitates respectful, forthright engagement of religious or ideological differences not with a goal of consensus or compromise but of building healthy relations between rivals that come to respect and trust each other.

FRD facilitates heart-to-heart diplomatic encounters between rival advocates that would not normally meet to engage their differences. The central method for effective religious diplomacy is taking the opportunity to speak forthrightly the truth we hold dear and listening carefully to those that sincerely—directly or indirectly—challenge our sacred beliefs.

FRD provides several ways to bring together people to experience deep religious communication that can improve their interreligious relations without compromising their integrity or encouraging consensus. The core insight is this: religious contestation can be sustained with less stress and more peace if we respectfully and honestly engage it; but to avoid the contest or attempt to finally resolve it into harmonious human or divine unity actually increases resentment, ill will and social dysfunction.

FRD contacts potential religious diplomats who are respected within their traditional religious groups to explore the benefits of directly encountering those who are in conflict with their group’s beliefs and practices. This step requires potential interreligious diplomats to assess how improved interreligious relations would lead to attaining their group’s greater goals. Candidly asked, their question is whether their group, which has the truth, will benefit from building respect and mitigating ill will with others who hold erroneous religious beliefs? When the decision is to engage the other, the foundation assists in arranging private, respectful encounters within or between families, local religious communities, or worldwide organizations.

When these meetings happen, they usually begin with people sharing personal testimonies of how they came to hold their deepest beliefs. This step creates an atmosphere of forthright interpersonal trust that encourages people to communicate about more difficult subjects. Without taking offense at the testimony and critiques of others, they can go deeply into their contested beliefs and practices and any prior mistreatment. The final step is to for religious diplomats to decide how best to expand the benefits of their improved relations. FRD may be a continual resource for more interreligious communication, but once trusting relations begin, conversations continue without facilitation.