Roman Catholic Church
For Roman Catholics, there is a strong belief in absolute rights:
Respect for the human person entails respect for the rights that flow from his dignity as a creature. These rights are prior to society and must be recognized by it. They are the basis of the moral legitimacy of every authority: by flouting them, or refusing to recognize them in its positive legislation, a society undermines its own moral legitimacy.
The Catechism specifically refers to religious beliefs:
The equality of men rests essentially on their dignity as persons and the rights that flow from it:
Every form of social or cultural discrimination in fundamental personal rights on the grounds of sex, race, color, social conditions, language, or religion must be curbed and eradicated as incompatible with God's design.
Missionaries: For centuries, missionaries have been sent all over the world to convert people to Christianity.
Pope John Paul II recently said all non-Roman Catholic religions were “defected”. Even after years of inter-faith dialogue, many Christians at heart believe that their religion is still the only true one.
‘ The Catholic Church rejects nothing of what is true and holy in [non-Christian] religions. She has a high regard for (them……Yet she is duty bound to proclaim without fail, Christ who is the only way, the truth and the life (John 14:6). In him… [people] find the fullness of their religious life.’
'The Declaration of the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions'
Church of England
There are a large number of 'Church schools' in the UK (where the church contributes to the cost of building and running a school, or owns the school building, and has influence over the way the school is run). The Church says:
Secondary schools with a religious foundation contribute significantly and substantially more to the promotion of community cohesion and the provision of equality of opportunity for students than other schools.
The Church of England gives specific guidance about how to interact with people of other faiths. They identify the following issues:
- Building long-term trust
- Speaking truthfully about the other
- Sharing our faith
- Coming together before God
- Responding to changing societies
- Educating and nurturing in faith
- Supporting family life
- Working for the common good
- Involving women and men
- Engaging with international issues
- Safeguarding the freedom to believe
- Changing religious commitment
Interfaith dialogue is difficult, because Christians will have a number of conflicting ideas. In the UK, religious belief has declined, and Christians are keen to support and encourage any interest in religious or spiritual issues. They also believe you should respect people regardless of their belief. However, Christianity does teach redemption through Jesus Christ, which is a message Christians believe they must share with all people.
In relation to the last point on the list:
Where the Spirit is at work, we rejoice that conversions of people to the way of Christ may happen. They must always be the free result of God’s interaction with others, not of our own planning or persuasion... As Christians we need to be aware of the difficulties that can be faced by new believers, and our Churches need to be prepared to change themselves in order to welcome new members. Some converts can find the whole concept of inter faith dialogue difficult, especially if it involves them in encounter with their previous religion. Other converts may have a valuable personal contribution to make to inter faith understanding, and we think that their place in dialogue should be affirmed.