Interfaith Glossary

This glossary is not supposed to be exhaustive or definite, instead it is supposed to help participants begin to understand interfaith language.  Many thanks to the Interfaith Youth CoreHarvard's Religious Literacy Project, and Harvard's Pluralism Project for their help in defining these terms.  

Interfaith Glossary

Religions whose people draw their origins to the Hebrew patriarch Abraham. The best known Abrahamic religions are Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

A certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of Anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.

Religious traditions that originated in the Eastern hemisphere (East, South, and Southeast Asia). Major Eastern Religions include Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism, Shintoism, Taoism, and Confucianism. It is important to note that members of these communities now live in countries across the globe.

This term is best understood by breaking it down into “inter” and “faith.” “Inter” refers to the relationships between people who orient around religion differently. “Faith” is defined as the relationship between an individual and what we commonly understand as a religious or philosophical tradition. Put together, "interfaith" is about how our interactions with those who are different impacts the way we relate to our religious and ethical traditions, and how our relationships with our traditions impact our interactions with those who are different from us.

Closed-minded prejudice against or hatred of Muslims. An Islamophobe is an individual who holds a closed-minded view of Islam and promotes prejudice against or hatred of Muslims.

Religious literacy entails the ability to discern and analyze the fundamental intersections of religion and social/political/cultural life through multiple lenses. Specifically, a religiously literate person will possess 1) a basic understanding of the history, central texts (where applicable), beliefs, practices and contemporary manifestations of several of the world's religious traditions as they arose out of and continue to be shaped by particular social, historical and cultural contexts; and 2) the ability to discern and explore the religious dimensions of political, social and cultural expressions across time and place. 

Pluralism, according to Diana Eck, has four major parts.

  1. Pluralism is not diversity alone, but the energetic engagement with diversity.
  2. Pluralism is not just tolerance, but the active seeking of understanding across lines of difference.
  3. Pluralism is not relativism, but the encounter of commitments.
  4. Pluralism is based on dialogue.

Work Cited

Interfaith Youth Core. (2017).  An Introduction to Worldview Engagement: Glossary of Terms.  Chicago, IL. 

Eck, Diana. (2006). What is Pluralism?.  Cambridge, MA

Moore, D. (2007). Overcoming Religious Illiteracy: A Cultural Studies Approach to the Study of Religion in Secondary Education

Page last modified January 4, 2021