Baha'is help found Interfaith Forum in Iceland

REYKJAVIK, Iceland — The Bahá’í community of Iceland has joined with twelve other faith groups and collaborative partners here to form the country’s first national interfaith forum.

The Iceland Forum for Interfaith Dialogue was officially founded on 24 November 2006 in ceremonies at the Reykjavik City Hall in the presence of Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, the president of Iceland.

“The object of the Forum is to promote tolerance and respect between persons of different religions and religious organizations with differing outlooks on life as well as to protect religious freedom and other human rights,” said Ingibjorg Danielsdottir, secretary of the Bahá’í community of Iceland.

This initiative was put together by the Intercultural Center in Reykjavik, a human rights advocacy organization that, among other things, strives to facilitate exchange between different cultures and groups.

The founding groups drafted and signed an “Interfaith Dialogue Policy Statement” that calls for the building of understanding and respect, as well as the upholding of religious freedom.

“As Bahá’ís we feel that we have a unique perspective to offer this type of dialogue,” said Bridget McEvoy, a member of the Bahá’í community. “A central feature in the Bahá’í Faith is the unity of religion and we want to be involved in any activity that promotes this idea.”

Ms. McEvoy said one goal of the Forum will be to maintain Iceland’s traditional openness to different cultures, which has become an important issue. “With the inclusion of Iceland into the European Economic Area and the European Single Market many people have chosen to move to Iceland to work. We have lots of cross border work opportunities, a good standard of living and have traditionally thought of ourselves as being an open society,” said Ms. McEvoy.

In addition to the Bahá’í community of Iceland, founding members of the Forum are: the Cross, Reykjavik Free Church, the Buddhist Association of Iceland, the Lutheran State Church of Iceland, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Seventh Day Adventist Church, the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWU), the Muslim Association of Iceland, the Icelandic Asatru Society, the Parish of St. Nicholas of the Russian Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church, and the Way Free Church.