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This past year I have attended a few interreligious events. Previously I have avoided them, because I never knew how to position myself as a would-be-convert. I have found that I find myself very clearly on the Jewish side of things, despite a Christian childhood. So I have been asking myself wether it is a good idea for converts from one religion to another to get involved in interreligious dialogue between the two religions.

On the "pro" side, converts are the ones who have experience with both religions. Chances are they have spent considerable time studying both. Their old religion because they were searching for answers when they wanted to stay. Their new religion because they needed to know what they get into. But not only academic study, they have lived both religions and they know the approaches, the unspoken assumptions and the mindset of both religions.

On the other hand, converts leave their old religion for a reason. They may have emotional baggage towards that religion. Or they may be tempted to justify their choice and aggressively attack the other religion and their (percieved) inconsistencies and errors. Conversely, they may be subject of attack by their old coreligionists as traitors or lost souls that need to be brought back into the fold. A slight danger may even be that the convert realizes he wants to go back to his own religion (though I doubt that’d happen often with sincere converts). But even assuming there are no problems in that area, converts may not have sufficiently internalized their new religion (maybe unknowingly). This may lead to misrepresenting the new religion or not realizing existing differences, because the convert himself has not yet fully understood all his new religion’s concepts.

What do you think? Should converts get involved in interreligious dialogue?

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