Implications of Lived and Packaged Religions for Intercultural Dialogue to Reduce Conflict and Terror

Gary Bouma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


: The use of intercultural dialogue (ICD) to promote intergroup understanding and respect is
considered as a key to reduce tensions and the likelihood of conflict. This paper argues that understanding
the differences among religions – those between packaged and lived religion – enhances the chances of
success and makes the effort more challenging. Religions contained and packaged are found in formally
organised expressions of religion – churches, denominations, synagogues, mosques, temples and so on.
For packaged religions, religious identity is singular and adherents are expected to identify with only
one religion and are assumed to accept the whole package of that religion. ICD in this context involves
communicating with religious groups such as organisations and encouraging different leaders to speak
with each other resulting in platforms filled with ‘heads of faith’ – bishops, muftis, ayatollahs, chief rabbis,
swamis and so on. In contrast, lived religions involve ritual practices engaged in by individuals and small
groups, creation of shrines and sacred spaces, discussing the nature of life, sharing ethical concerns,
going on pilgrimages and taking actions to celebrate and sustain hope. There is some evidence that,
although packaged religions are declining, lived religions continue at persistent levels. Violent extremism
is more likely to be associated with lived rather than packaged forms of religion, making a more balanced
intercultural competences approach to ICD critical to countering conflict.1
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Citizenship and Globalisation Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • religious diversity
  • Westphalian settlement
  • intercultural dialogue
  • conflict reduction
  • religion and terrorism

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