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Meeting people of different faiths

Scottish Inter Faith Council logoInformation on these pages has been used with permission from Scottish Inter Faith Council.

Today in Scotland there are growing opportunities to meet people from different religions and to build friendships across cultures.  Below are some general guidelines to consider when meeting people of different faiths.

Visiting places of worship

Usually people are delighted to show others their place of worship.  It is a sharing of what they hold very dear.  They will, however, hope that the visitor will be respectful and observe certain basic rules of conduct. 

Whether visiting alone, or in a group, it is important to follow the guidelines for clothing and behaviour so as not to cause offence.  For example, it is important not to talk loudly, thus disturbing any who may be at prayer.  If anyone has special needs, it is good to let the place / centre that is being visited know about this in advance so that they can prepare to help.  For example, although the normal custom of the place of worship in question may be to sit on the floor or to stand for worship, chairs can often be provided for elderly, infirm or disabled visitors.  Ask before taking any photographs as this is not always allowed. 

Most religious communities would expect visitors to dress modestly when visiting their centre or place of worship.  This may be extended in some communities to having one's head covered and as you may be sitting on the floor short dresses and skirts are unsuitable.  Some religious communities require shoes to be removed before entering their place of worship and visitors may be asked to wash their hands before entering the place of worship. 

Most religious communities would find it offensive if tobacco, alcohol or drugs were brought to their centres or places of worship.

Eating together

Many religious traditions have certain dietary requirements as a result of their beliefs. 

Generally speaking the easiest way to cater for a multi-faith event is to make it absolutely vegetarian.  It is helpful to label food where contents are not immediately apparent. 

Within Judaism the Kosher roles are widely observed but with differing interpretations.   A local synagogue can be asked for advice on where to obtain kosher food and again this should be clearly marked at an event.

It is probably preferable not to offer alcohol at a multi-faith event.


The Chaplaincy Centre

3A St Mary's Place
St Andrews
KY16 9UY
Scotland, United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)1334 46 2866/2492

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