Open Forum Davos: Does faith require the church?

As part of the Open Forum Davos, FSPC President Gottfried Locher discussed the topic of whether faith requires churches with experts in theology and politics from around the world.

In Switzerland, 80% of young people believe in God. 20% feel closely connected to a church. Hence the question “Does faith require a church” as asked by Swiss television journalist Urs Leuthard at a panel of the Open Forum Davos on January 28, 2011.

“People can decide for themselves whether or not they need a religious community,” said Jon Pult, president of the Social Democratic Party of the Canton of Graubünden. Berlin professor of theology Rolf Schieder alluded to the possible importance of a church: “One needs institutions to teach people to be individuals”. This found agreement with Adrian Loretan-Saladin, professor for church law at the University of Lucerne: “Over time, religious people require a ‘narrative community’ to pass religion on to others.”

“The Protestant Church supports individual thought”, explained Gottfried Locher, president of the Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches (FSPC). The church is, in this context, not a “merely human institution that we need to safeguard, but a movement that needs to continue.” Locher stressed that “it is not good for any church to have a monopoly. We all have a faith tradition to pass on to others. Christian faith requires a church.”

Fazlun Khalid, founder and director of the Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Science in the United Kingdom emphasized the communal aspect of faith and that faith is best expressed in a community of many people.” It remains important, however, as Parinas Parhisi of the Ministry of Justice of the German state of Hesse put it, that the church “seek out cooperative partners for their projects and support equality in the process.”

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