A theological-ethical evaluation of the Christian-Muslim dialogue in the Swiss army chaplaincy
Inniger, Matthias Gottfried
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This study addresses the research subject of Christian-Muslim dialogue in the Swiss Army Chaplaincy. Because of demographic changes, a growing number of Muslims are serving in the Swiss Army. As a result, the Christian chaplaincy is challenged by increasing demands regarding Christian-Muslim dialogue. Since specific theological-ethical research addressing Christian-Muslim dialogue in army chaplaincies is lacking as well as specific evaluation regarding the experiences of Muslim Swiss Army personnel, this study aims to close this gap by developing approaches based on a Swiss Protestant perspective. An extended evaluation among Muslim Swiss Army personnel and case studies in other national army chaplaincies—both based on qualitative research methods—confirm that Christian-Muslim dialogue in the Swiss Army Chaplaincy is inadequate and should be reconsidered. Specific needs and proposals regarding improvement of this situation are presented as a result of this field research. The evaluation is dependent on specific criteria, namely the theological-ethical dialogue principles that have previously been identified by an in-depth study of documents considering the context of Swiss Protestantism. These broadly accepted principles focus on an explicit commitment to interreligious dialogue, on emphasising commonalities, on respecting other religions, on empowering religious minorities, and on bridge-building activities. The study aims to improve the current inadequate Christian-Muslim dialogue in the Swiss Army Chaplaincy by encouraging the implementation of these principles. It recommends that the Swiss Federation and the Swiss Army should contribute to the development of a multifaith Swiss Army Chaplaincy that would benefit Swiss society as a whole. It suggests that this multifaith chaplaincy will promote interreligious dialogue in general, that assigned chaplains will care for all army personnel regarding day-to-day issues, and that access to professional faith-specific support will be provided in a few clearly defined cases. The carefully selected and well-trained chaplains must be respectfully committed to interreligious dialogue and to the empowerment of all personnel. The study does not lose sight of the main aim of this chaplaincy, which is the spiritual guidance and welfare of all army personnel. It aims to encourage Swiss Protestant churches and chaplains to contribute together with their ecumenical and interreligious partners to the success of this multifaith chaplaincy in which all religions will be able to collaborate in such a manner that all army personnel feel at home.
- Theology