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Multifaith space

A multifaith space or multifaith prayer room is a quiet location set aside in a busy public place (hospital, university, airport, etc.) where people of differing religious beliefs, or none at all, are able to spend time in contemplation or prayer. Many of these spaces are "small, clean and largely unadorned areas", which can be adapted and serve for any religious or spiritual practice. Rarely, persons of different faiths may come together in such spaces within the context of multifaith worship services.

The space may or may not be a dedicated place of worship. A recent research project at the University of Manchester, UK has conceptualised the modern multifaith space as "an intentional space, designed to both house a plurality of religious practices, as well as address clearly defined pragmatic purposes."

The Manchester University research highlighted two key factors for a multifaith space to work:

U.S. President Barack Obama, in the fall of 2011 launched the "President’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge" in which he encourages interfaith cooperation and community service, using that service as a tool to build common ground between the various faith groups involved. This creates a platform from which to launch peaceful and productive dialogue.

Following the program launch, approximately 250 colleges and universities made "the vision for interfaith cooperation and community service a reality on campuses across the country."

According to the Interfaith Youth Core the campus concept makes a good model, as campuses can be categorized as diverse communities, active in community service work, and take an important role in the larger community. The acts and behaviors of students can impact a campus environment and climate, which can then, in the long run, have an impact in society at large. Campuses across the world join this movement to foster interfaith cooperation.

Better Together is a national student campaign for interfaith action, allowing students to engage and voice their opinions in working together toward bettering the community. Better Together promotes leadership rooted in a person’s beliefs, builds community no matter how different those beliefs may seem, and that strong community is able to serve others.

  • There needs to be a balance achieved for the range of different users most likely to make regular use of the space, thus preventing conflict. All norms and values need to be considered and respected, which often leads to an "unstable equilibrium where divergent worldviews can be brought together." Social cooperation and openness must be possible within the space.
  • Most multifaith spaces maintain a very basic design, in order to minimize the visibility of a single faith group, whilst remaining easily adaptable to the many different practices for which the space may be utilized. Each space raises question of ethics and "national style", in which different faith members are able to participate in a mutually respectful, yet cooperative, manner.


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