From Enorb to ‘Sacred Activists’: The Changing Face of Multi-Faith Grassroots Movements?

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 17:30
Oral Presentation
William BARYLO, EHESS, France
Launched in 2016 by St Ethelburga’s Centre in London, Sacred Activists is an ongoing training programme aiming at building a network of young people from various cultural and religious backgrounds committed to social justice. Offering workshops, fieldtrips, retreats, mentoring and activities such as a week of volunteering in a refugee camp, the programme supports 20 people (Sikhs, Muslims, Sufis, Buddhists, Jews, Brahma Kumaris, Christians, Baha’i etc) for whom activism becomes a shared devotional practice. Similar ‘multi-faith action initiatives’ differ from traditional structures based on ‘inter-faith dialogue’ (European Network of Religion and Belief (ENORB), Christian-Muslim Forum, London Boroughs Faiths Networks etc ) in terms of audience, motivations and outcomes, which reflect dynamics previously existing only within particular faith communities. This paper offers insights from four years of fieldwork in both established ‘inter-faith dialogue’ and recent multi-faith grassroots initiatives, analysing their characteristics and the factors explaining how in the span of a few years they have build a strong social capital. Moreover, these initiatives are illustrative of how young people articulate religion and spirituality with current social issues in a hyper-modern, increasingly secular and neo-liberal society.