Interreligious Dialogue

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Interreligious dialogue and dialogue of religions are terms for an exchange of views that is sought by representatives of religions , ideally equal, respectful and critical. It encompasses the encounter and cooperation in everyday life and theology between representatives and members of different religions. Interreligious dialogue can involve several religions at the same time, but encounters between two religions are more common. Theology of religion negotiates the self-understanding of a religion in relation to other religions against the background of their claim to truth and the mediation of salvation.

The term intra- religious dialogue, which describes the dialogue between denominations within a religion, is little used; on this subject see denomination . Sometimes denominations are so different or hostile that the dialogue between them is just as difficult or more difficult than the interreligious one.

Current meaning

The dialogue between religions and interreligious dialogue have gained in importance after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 . They are demanded and promoted by almost all democracies and by many religious communities . The following factors are named, for example:

  • Globalization ,
  • worldwide migration and thus global pluralization ,
  • Conflicts in which religious matters play a role and / or are mentioned as a motive (sometimes religion is put forward as a reason for action, although something else motivates action);
  • Terrorism in many countries with religious motives. The attacks on September 11, 2001 ("9/11") on the World Trade Center , among others, are considered a beacon of this type of terrorism ;
  • the population growth in many countries around the world, including in many Islamic countries. It promotes the struggle for resources (e.g. fields, land, water).

The attitude of different religions to interreligious dialogue

In the historical order of the existence of the religious communities.


The Hinduism is less a closed belief system , but rather a stream of very different communities and assumptions. Internally there are strong traditions of dialogue with one another, of enduring differences and of acknowledging fundamental similarities. Foreign religions were and are often viewed and tolerated as aspects of their own truth (“salvation inclusiveism”).

Other inner Indian religions such as Buddhism , Jainism or Sikhism have had to emphasize their independent identity to their Hindu environment since their emergence in order not to be "absorbed". Hindu scholars interpreted the Buddha as the embodiment ( avatara ) of the god Vishnu , which, in addition to the advance of Islam, largely contributed to the extinction of Buddhism in India . On some modern Hindu altars there are already votive images of Christ or Mother Teresa , integrated with other Hindu deities and saints, without those who pray accordingly deriving a contradiction or even a change of faith. Many Hindu representatives like to take part in the dialogue between the religions , but often emphasize an understanding of unity by which those of different beliefs feel absorbed.

Hindu critics of the dialogue, on the other hand, see it primarily as attempts at mission , which is why they sometimes accuse its proponents of naivety .


The Judaism does not claim any exclusivity of salvation, and therefore sees no Great Commission: Even members of other faiths can achieve "share of the world to come" when certain moral principles (see Seven Laws of Noah ) comply. According to the Talmud , God showed and chose different paths to people and peoples.

Accordingly, the commandments issued to Adam and Noah apply to all people, Abraham honors the foreign priest-king Melchizedek , Moses takes advice from his father-in-law, the Midiant priest Jitro, and the Persian king Cyrus is even described as a messiah who commissioned God (the Permission for the return of the Jews from the Babylonian exile and support in the rebuilding of the temple) receives and carries out.

To this day, Jewish representatives often take part in the dialogue between the religions , insofar as they do not feel captured. Instead of a theological dialogue, however, they more often advocate practical cooperation , since, according to Jewish conviction, action is more important than an abstract exchange about God who ultimately surpasses understanding ( orthopraxis ).

Jewish critics of the dialogue mostly fear the appropriation or direct mission intentions of the Christian or Islamic interlocutors.

In Berlin there were already Christian-Jewish talks initiated by Rabbi Leo Baeck in the early 1930s , the aim of which was the interreligious and cultural understanding between Jews and Christians in Germany.

As the author of the book The Jew in the Lotus, Rodger Kamenetz dealt with the interreligious dialogue between Judaism and Tibetan Buddhism. He coined the expression "Jubus" as an expression of a twofold identity. The more well-known American jubus include many celebrities, such as Leonard Cohen , Doug Fieger , Allen Ginsberg , Natalie Goldberg , Goldie Hawn and Kate Hudson .


The majority of Buddhism does not see itself as an exclusive religious community , but as a doctrine of truth, which should be made accessible to learners and practitioners through their own insight and experience.

Accordingly, conversations and discussions between the Buddha and subsequent monks , especially with Hindu Brahmins , are part of the oldest collection of Buddhist scriptures. However, it is more about passing on the teaching than about an equal exchange. From a Buddhist point of view , gods can certainly be respected, but they themselves represent only temporary existences . Whether this also applies to the one god of the Abrahamic religions from a Buddhist point of view or whether this, like nirvana, denotes an incomprehensible reality , is a frequent topic of the dialogue People of a different belief with Buddhism .

Buddhist representatives therefore often take part in the dialogue between the religions , but with a few exceptions (such as the Dalai Lama ) usually speak only for themselves or for smaller Buddhist schools.

Buddhist critics of the dialogue object that participation in the dialogue of religions implies that Buddhism is merely a religious community and a belief system . But this does not correspond to the Buddhist self-image.


According to the New Testament , Jesus initially limited the preaching of the Gospel primarily to the Jewish people, but also responded positively to the faith that people from other backgrounds showed him. So he accepts the Samaritan woman at the well ( Joh 4,7-9  EU ), who then trusts him, and praises the faith of the Roman captain of Capernaum ( Mt 8,10  EU ), who trusts him to heal his servant . In the parable of the good Samaritan he presents someone of a different belief as an ethical example for the pious Jews ( Lk 10: 29-37  EU ), and in the healing of the daughter of the Canaanite woman, Jesus even lets himself be asked not to give his mission to the people Is to restrict Israel ( Mk 7.27-29  EU ). Finally, he also speaks of “other sheep” (non-Jews) who will hear his call ( Jn 10.16  EU ). After the resurrection, the salvation offer is finally passed on to all people (“mission command”).

A basic distinction must be made between liberal-ecumenical and conservative currents. The ecumenical organizations underline the importance of interreligious dialogue, such as the Conference of European Churches in the Charta oecumenica .

For the Evangelical Church in Germany , “dialogue on all possible levels is necessary and there is no alternative”. The general synod of the Evangelical Church A. u. In 2011, HB in Austria published an orientation guide for Evangelical Christians in the interreligious dialogue with Islam, in which that cooperation should be sought that serves peace and good neighborliness.

4. Interreligious Prayer for World Peace in Assisi on October 27, 2011

The Catholic Church gave up the saving exclusivism of earlier centuries in the 2nd Vatican Council . In council texts such as Lumen Gentium and Nostra Aetate , other Christians, Jews, Muslims, people of different and also non-believers are described in this order as belonging to God's truth , insofar as they do not endeavor to lead a just life without divine grace . It is recognized that rays of truth can be found in other religions as well. Encounters with the Pope , such as the world prayer meetings in Assisi , have for some decades become perhaps the strongest symbols of dialogue between religions . The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue has also existed since the time of the Second Vatican Council , which was established in 1964 as a secretariat for non-Christians and coordinates the activities of the Roman Curia in dialogue with other religions. The Pontifical Commission for Religious Relations with Muslims is also affiliated with it . Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran headed both institutions from 2007 until his death in July 2018.

Conservatively oriented free churches and communities, on the other hand, usually reject an interreligious dialogue to the extent that one sees the danger of giving up one's own positions and mixing up religions . Above all, the absoluteness claim formulated in numerous places in the New Testament stands in opposition to Christ's common acts of worship.

Christian critics of dialogue also criticize the way in which interreligious encounters are conducted by the Pope and raise the question of whether these can be described as dialogue. Others fear the obscuration of the difference between truth and falsehood and the abandonment of the mission. A possible naivety towards the “real” goals of those of different beliefs in dialogue is also seen as a danger. Especially the current Pope Francis and his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI. opposed these critics and described truth as a relationship that reveals itself to people only as a way and is not absolutely possible to have.


According to the Koran , Judaism , Christianity and possibly also other religions are forerunners of the Islamic community, whose beliefs (according to the majority opinion) could also lead them to God . The Islam was indeed the better and best way. In addition to numerous hadiths , Islamic advocates of the dialogue like to refer to the religious conversation between the Prophet Mohammed and the Christians of Najaf , which was conducted and ended without agreement but with mutual respect and is also honored in the Koran. Some Islamic theologians take the view that the word Islam, in addition to denoting the specific belief system, also expresses an attitude of devotion to God, which can also be practiced by Christians, Jews and others. In this sense, a good believer in God can practice Islam even if he does not see himself as a Muslim in the narrower sense of the word.

Another problem in the dialogue understanding of Islam is of a practical nature. In Islam, groups of other religions, regardless of whether they are a majority (as in medieval Spain) or a minority (e.g. in most North African states and in Egypt) in Muslim-dominated areas the Islamic conquest of these former core areas of Christianity), a restricted legal status as so-called " Dhimmi " (protected) is provided. As a result, there is always a certain power imbalance between the Muslim representatives and those of other faiths in interreligious discussions, which makes a free, equal discussion difficult.

According to Orthodox doctrine, Muslims in interreligious conversations are only allowed to have a discourse with one another in the best possible way by setting a good example ( Da'wa ). Any form of coercion or violence to convey Islam to people of other faith is prohibited.

Although Muslims often advocate dialogue between religions , people of different beliefs often need a lot of patience to really get to a level of equal exchange. "Enlightenment" and "modernization" of Islam are warned in a hierarchical discussion. Free, fundamentalist Christian communities often view Islam as "Christian heresy". This is reflected in the literature of authors such as Ibn Warraq . On the other hand, it often appears to Jews and Christians in dialogue with Muslims to be categorized as forerunners of Islam, whose agreements with the Islamic faith are ostensibly appreciated, but deviating attitudes are dismissed as regrettable falsifications. Subsequent religious communities such as Baha'i , Druze or Alevis often see themselves as either captured or rejected as apostates who, as such, face the death penalty. Nevertheless, some Islamic reformers and grassroots initiatives have launched new approaches to dialogue, which, however, are currently having little success because of the conflicting world situation.


The establishment of the King Abdullah Center for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue (KAICIID), a global NGO based in Vienna , in October 2011 by the Saudi Arabian King Abdullah can be seen as a dialogue initiative with an Islamic background . The organization's vision is that religion should act as a trailblazer for respect and reconciliation. Since only Muslims are allowed to practice their religion in Saudi Arabia, and religious freedoms are severely restricted for other faiths, critics see the establishment of this center only as an international image of Saudi Arabia, which tries to avoid human rights violations in its own Distract country.


Baha'ullah's mission to his followers is to " deal with all religions in cordiality and harmony ". In doing so he encouraged the Baha'i to engage in interreligious dialogue. He emphasizes the importance of forbearance , loyalty , sincerity and kindness and encourages the Baha'i to focus on what connects them. They take part in interreligious dialogue with the intention of “ making peace among people, promoting unity and contributing to reconciliation among adherents of different religious denominations ”. In doing so, they refrain from proselytizing, treat others with respect, but also expect him or her to adopt their own point of view. The guideline for this is Bahá'ú'lláh's principle of the " independent search for truth ", which applies to all those involved in the dialogue. In addition, they ensure that the Baha'i theology, which is based on an evolutionary, universalistic and progressive revelation of God, is not perceived by the dialogue partners as engaging. Against this background, the Baha'i are active in interreligious dialogue, for example in the Intercultural Council in Germany or at the round table of religions initiated by the Mayor of Stuttgart and at places at the WCRP and church conventions . The Baha'i are also involved in the dialogue at the institutional level and are not afraid to address the need for action from their point of view. The Universal House of Justice , the highest body of the Baha'i World Congregation, already addressed itself in April 2002 "to the religious leaders of the world" and took a position on the requirements and goals of interreligious dialogue. After appreciating the efforts and successes made so far, it also pointed out that the institutions must continue to lead this process to success with greater “ intellectual coherence and mental determination ”. It is important that the institutions of established religions give up the claim that their own religion offers “ privileged access to the truth ”. In this way they would stop the erosion of the position of religion , lead it out of its isolation from materialism and make it possible for it to “ play a decisive role in shaping the world ”.

Practice of interreligious dialogue

Interreligious dialogue can take place on a state or religious community, on an institutional or private level and take many forms: everyday conversations, conferences of religious leaders or theologians, guided tours in one's own church, joint women's groups, exchange of teachers (also for individual lessons), joint social or cultural projects, participation or collaboration in interreligious organizations. The result of such encounters - and at the same time a basis for deepening the exchange among members of the various religions - can be joint declarations on the coexistence of the religions.

Concrete forms of bilateral and trilateral dialogue

The most common forms of concrete interreligious dialogue are:

In Germany today there are the most advanced relations between Judaism and Christianity , which have a common initial history and in the Old Testament / Tanach a largely identical Holy Book.

Interreligious services and prayers for peace

Church services with the participation of members of different religions play a special role among these diverse forms of interreligious dialogue . They are also often rejected by advocates of interreligious dialogue, because they see in it a covering up of the actual differences and a feigned unity that can lead to more conflict than a realistic recognition of the differences.

In 1986 Pope John Paul II called a world prayer meeting of the religions in Assisi, despite strong internal Catholic opposition . The follow-up meetings , which have been organized every year by the Community of Sant'Egidio since then and which bring together high-ranking religious leaders as well as non-religious intellectuals, have strengthened the trust of the religious leaders in one another and led to concrete initiatives for interreligious cooperation for peace and humanity. For example, the visit of the participants, including Muslim clergy, to the Auschwitz concentration camp (after the peace prayer in 1989 in Warsaw , Poland ) created awareness of the reality of the Shoah for the first time in the Muslim world . The prayer for peace in 1986 in Romania Bucharest allowed the subsequent visit of Pope John Paul II., Who visited with Romania for the first time a majority Orthodox country. The initiatives for peace negotiations for Mozambique and Algeria also originated from these peace meetings.

Interreligious meeting places

Since the nineties at the latest, there has been an increased effort in German-speaking countries not to leave interreligious activities at the stage of individual encounters, but to give them continuity and fixed locations. The Zurich Lehrhaus has existed in Switzerland since 1993 (since 2015: Zurich Institute for Interreligious Dialogue ). as a Judeo-Christian-Islamic educational institution and the Lassalle House as a meeting place for Eastern spirituality and Christian mysticism. In 1995, Hans Küng founded the Global Ethic Foundation for intercultural and interreligious research, education and encounters in Tübingen . Between 2005 and 2008 a House of Religions was built in Hanover ; In 2010, a Stuttgart Lehrhaus was established in Stuttgart based on the historical model of the Free Jewish Teaching House . The House of Religions opened in Bern in 2014 ; a Lehrhaus der Religionen in Munich and a House of One in Berlin are in planning.

Academic exchange

While common prayer and common worship services are often rejected, opportunities for cooperation have emerged in the university context or in school lessons: For example, in the Judeo-Christian dialogue, a Jewish chair for Old Testament theology at a theological faculty , joint Hebrew lessons or joint studies can be found of the Old Testament contribute to mutual understanding . A whole range of new courses, university institutes, symposia and congresses are dedicated to interreligious exchange on an academic level in German-speaking countries. These include, for example, the Institute for Ecumenical Research at the University of Tübingen, the Center for Comparative Theology and Cultural Studies at the University of Paderborn or the Center for Interreligious Studies at the University of Bamberg. The Kirchliche Pädagogische Hochschule Wien / Krems is home to the “Christian denominations” training (Catholic, Protestant and Old Catholic, Orthodox, Oriental-Orthodox, Free Church) as well as the three institutes of Islamic , Alevi and Jewish religions . This connection under the umbrella of a university favors both organized and spontaneous encounters.

The World Parliament of Religions is a special form of interreligious exchange, where representatives of different religions bring their views closer to one another. A common prayer is not planned.

Institutional foundations of interreligious dialogue in Germany

Institutionalized forms of bilateral dialogue

The more than 80 societies for Christian-Jewish cooperation with approx. 20,000 members and their umbrella organization, the German Coordination Council of Societies for Christian-Jewish Cooperation , which emerged in Germany after National Socialism and the Holocaust , advocate reconciliation between Jewish and non-Jewish Germans and mutual understanding Christians and Jews and a peaceful coexistence of peoples and religions as well as against anti-Semitism and right-wing radicalism . Since their foundation, both the individual companies and their umbrella organization have each had a Jewish, a Protestant and a Catholic chairman. The German Coordination Council is the largest association among the 32 members of the International Council of Christians and Jews (ICCJ).

The Islamic-Christian Working Group (ICA) has existed since 1976, in which various Islamic organizations and the Roman Catholic, Protestant and Greek Orthodox Churches are represented. It conducts meetings and conferences, advises on interreligious projects and aims at exchanging information on factual issues. Christian-Islamic dialogue organizations have joined forces in the Coordination Council of Christian-Islamic Dialogue (KCID), the oldest and largest (as of 2017) member organization of which is the Christian-Islamic Society .

See also: German Islam Conference , Theological Forum Christianity - Islam

Institutionalized forms of multilateral dialogue

In the "Interreligious Working Group" of the Association of Intercultural Council in Germany are represented:

The working group strives for a culture of social solidarity as a common goal . In the Abrahamic Forum of the Council, representatives of the Central Council of Jews in Germany , the ACK , the ZMD, the Turkish-Islamic Union of the Institute for Religion e. V. ( DITIB ) u. a. interreligious issues and the work of Abrahamic (Jews, Muslims and Christians) and other “interreligious teams”. You are involved in school and extracurricular educational work.

Further individual organizations

Organizations such as the Aktion Sühnezeichen Friedensdienste (since 1958), the Grünhelme eV (since 2003) and the Focolare Movement (since 1943), which promote worldwide fraternity through dialogue between people of different denominations, religions and non- religious worldview, which is concretized in social and humanitarian initiatives. Promoting reconciliation, trust and respect through practical cooperation is also the goal of smaller projects such as B. “Fishing reconciled”, which attempts to address the cause of a conflict and to look for a practical solution in this area that includes both parties to the conflict.

Other organizations of interreligious dialogue in Germany include the Working Group of Churches and Religious Societies , the Bendorfer Forum for Ecumenical Encounters and Interreligious Dialogue , the Faiths In Tune initiative (within the framework of which the Festival of Religions in Berlin and Cologne is organized, among others), the Café Abraham Germany, the Eugen Biser Foundation , the Friends of Abrahams , the Georges Anawati Foundation and the Councils of Religions (see also Christian-Islamic Dialogue and Christian-Jewish Dialogue in Germany and List of Interreligious Organizations in Germany, Austria and Switzerland ).

State promotion of interreligious dialogue

In 2002 the federal government supported projects of the Christian-Islamic dialogue with 425,000 euros. These included B. Dialogue seminars for imams (2002: 50,000 euros), the support of the KCID (project-related) and the Muslim Academy (60,000 euros annually from 2004 to 2010). In addition, organizations such as the Federal Agency for Civic Education (bpb) are financed, which, like the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) and the like. a. engage in interreligious dialogue. Universities also promote interreligious dialogue, for example through practical dialogue seminars.

Strengthening peaceful coexistence in Germany was also the aim of the “Do you know who I am?” Project. It supported the dialogue between the religions at the grass-roots level by promoting the exchange of experiences between Jews, Christians and Muslims. The Working Group of Christian Churches (ACK), the Central Council of Jews, the Central Council of Muslims (ZMD) and the Turkish-Islamic Union of DITIB were involved . The Federal Ministry of the Interior supported the project.

Since 2015 , the Federal Ministry of Education and Research has promoted the program of interreligious and ideological dialogue Dialog perspectives: Religions and world views in conversation by the Ernst Ludwig Ehrlich Studienwerk , which is aimed at students and doctoral candidates of the German gifted funding agencies. Since 2019 , this program has been expanded to include the European Scholarship Program @ DialoguePerspectives , which is funded by the German Foreign Office .

Organizations of the interreligious dialogue in Austria

The Platform for Interreligious Encounters (PFIRB) was founded in 2002 by representatives of various religious communities. It is their concern to enable encounters between members of different religions and to actively contribute to the development of a culture of peace and non-violence.

There is also the Komyoji and the King Abdullah Center (AICIID).

Organizations of interreligious dialogue in Switzerland

Important actors in the interreligious dialogue

Eugen Drewermann received the 2007 Erich Fromm Prize for his continuous advocacy of understanding and understanding among people of different religions and worldviews . Reinhard von Kirchbach , the former Provost of Schleswig, was one of the pioneers of interreligious dialogue in Germany . The visit of the Dalai Lama to the first ecumenical church convention in Berlin in 2003 is considered a highlight of the interreligious dialogue in Germany . In 2006, Paul Spiegel , the then chairman of the Central Council of Jews in Germany , said of the reactions to the Mohammed cartoons that this dispute was terrible evidence of the failure of political and interreligious dialogue between different cultures.


See also


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  • Dalai Lama : The heart of all religions is one. Goldmann, Munich 1999, ISBN 3-442-13278-9 .
  • Jonathan Magonet : Abraham - Jesus - Mohammed: Interreligious Dialogue from a Jewish Perspective. Gütersloh 2000, ISBN 3-579-00735-1 .
  • Sebastian Painadath : The Spirit Tears Down Walls: The Renewal of Our Faith through Interreligious Dialogue. Kösel, Munich 2002, ISBN 3-466-36591-0 .
  • Mikel de Epalza: Jesus between Jews, Christians and Muslims: Interreligious Coexistence on the Iberian Peninsula (6th-17th centuries). Otto Lembeck, 2002, ISBN 3-87476-393-5 .
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  • Dalai Lama, Eugen Drewermann : The way of the heart: non-violence and dialogue between religions. Patmos 2003, ISBN 3-491-69078-1 .
  • Gritt Klinkhammer, Hans-Ludwig Frese, Ayla Satilmis, Tina Seibert: Interreligious and intercultural dialogues with Muslims in Germany. A quantitative and qualitative study. University of Bremen, Bremen 2011, ISBN 978-3-88722-722-7 . (online) (= publications of the Institute for Religious Studies and Religious Education; PDF; 3.2 MB)
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  • Udo Tworuschka (Ed.): The world religions and how they see each other. Primus, Darmstadt 2008, ISBN 978-3-89678-290-8 .
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  • Edwin Egeter: Interpretation patterns in "Christian Zen". A study of religion. Akademikerverlag, Saarbrücken 2013, ISBN 978-3-639-49413-6 .
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  • Hans-Christoph Goßmann, Michael Möbius (ed.): I believe in interreligious dialogue. Access to the life and work of the pioneer Reinhard von Kirchbach. Verlag Traugott Bautz, Nordhausen 2008, ISBN 978-3-88309-438-0 .
  • Werner Höbsch: And it's really true, Sidi, that you are a Giaur want to stay, an unbeliever? Karl May and the interreligious dialogue. In: Christoph F. Lorenz (ed.): Between heaven and hell. Karl May and religion. 2nd Edition. Karl-May-Verlag, Bamberg / Radebeul 2013, ISBN 978-3-7802-0165-2 , pp. 365-390.
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Web links

Commons : Interfaith  - collection of images, videos and audio files


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  2. Vita Leo Baeck
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  12. In Germany the Bahá'i are now established as equal partners and accepted by the churches. The German Bishops' Conference sees the Bahá'i faith as an "independent post-Islamic universal religion". Secretariat of the German Bishops' Conference: Christians and Muslims in Germany. Working Aids, No. 172, 2003, Section 523.
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  20. See KPH Vienna / Krems , institutes there .
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  22. ^ Positions, activities and contacts of the Evangelical Church in Germany with regard to Islam. on:
  23. # 93; = 488 & tx_ttnews [pointer] = 7 & tx_ttnews [tt_news] = 108 & cHash = 4215dad14139c62fdd456273cc22b480 Christians and Muslims working together for peace: EMS equips interreligious fishing group in Indonesia with boats and nets. ( Memento of the original from April 2, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. Press release of the Evangelical Mission in Solidarity eV (EMS). May 2, 2005. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  24. ^ Website of the Working Group of Christian Churches (ACK).  ( Page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.@1@ 2Template: Toter Link /  
  25. Program Dialogue Perspectives. Religions and world views in conversation , Dialogperspektiven website, accessed on February 25, 2020
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  29. Christoph F. Lorenz. in the Karl May Wiki