This Information has been prepared by the Scottish Inter Faith Council to provide basic information on some of the 'faith communities' who live and worship in Scotland. Those included on this page are either full members of the Scottish Inter Faith Council or have observer status.
The multi-religious nature of Scottish society is now widely accepted and promoted by various individuals, groups, organisations and institutions. The need to be respectful of, and understand this diversity is also acknowledged by the Scottish Parliament and is recognised to be fundamental to the harmony of society whether in a global, national or local context.
It is important that individuals and organisations, particularly those professionally associated with public life in Scotland, have some knowledge of the different faith traditions operating in Scotland, and it is hoped that they, and the general public, will find this information helpful.
These pages have been designed to include general information on the basic beliefs, customs and practices, places of worship, main festivals, food and diet and community concerns of Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Muslims, Jews, Sikhs, Baha'is, Brahma Kumaris and Pagans. This is not a complete picture of the religious communities in Scotland as there is diversity within the religions mentioned and there are also religions not included in these pages.
Inter faith initiatives in Scotland
Since the historic World Parliament of Religions held in Chicago at the end of the 19th Century there has been growing awareness that we inhabit a world of many faiths. This awareness has gradually resulted in the growth of inter faith initiatives and bi-lateral religious dialogue groups throughout the United Kingdom. In Scotland such groups have been operating since the 1970s.
Scotland is also home to The St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art. Opened in Glasgow in 1993, this unique museum aims to promote mutual understanding and respect between people of different faiths and of none.
It is clear that world events abroad influence relationships at home and so the ethos of inter faith, which includes developing understanding, respect and dialogue between religions, is critical in the creation of a peaceful and inclusive Scotland.
The Scottish Inter Faith Council
The Scottish Inter Faith Council was officially launched in 1999 by Patricia Ferguson, the then Deputy Presiding Officer of the new Scottish Parliament. As well as promoting better understanding between faith communities the SIFC can function as a vehicle of communication between the Scottish Executive and the various communities living in Scotland. Collectively it represents a major cross section of the faith communities in Scotland and its representative members are committed to the process of developing inter faith structures at both local and national levels. The Scottish Inter Faith Council encourages and supports initiatives aimed at increasing mutual understanding and respect between the members of all religious communities.
It is dedicated in its work to break down and diffuse barriers of discrimination and prejudice and promote tolerance and acceptance within society.
The 2001 Census section on religious affiliation gives the following statistics for members of religious faiths in Scotland:
Further information can be obtained by contacting the Scottish Inter Faith Council at the following address:
The St Francis Centre
405 Cumberland Street
Tel: 0141 429 4012
Alternatively, you can get more information about religious movements from Inform, a charity based in London.