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Interdenominational Café

Café Abraham is about finding out what different religions have in common

Freiburg, Feb 28, 2019

Interdenominational Café

Photo: Joshua Ness/Unsplash

Café Abraham Freiburg was founded by a group of students who want to promote a better understanding between different religions by working against extremism, prejudices, superficial knowledge, and hostility against members of different religions.

The group meets every two weeks for an informal discussion in a different café in Freiburg. Photo: Joshua Ness/Unsplash

“We want people to come together who would otherwise never talk to each other,” explained the psychology student Hannah Seidler. The idea for the café came from a group of students in Erlangen, who inspired like-minded students to start groups at their own universities. After the project met with enthusiasm in Freiburg, students from different subjects founded a group at the beginning of the winter semester 2017-18.

The main focus of the group is on Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam), but other religions are welcome as well. Atheists are also welcome. The initiative builds on the traditional café or coffee house culture in which people get together and discuss issues over a cup of coffee. The group meets every two weeks for an informal discussion in a different café in Freiburg. The get-togethers are attended by students and university faculty members of different religions. New people also stop by once in a while, and the group speaks English when necessary. They like to talk about current events and/or social, political, or religious issues.

Questions about God

Many of the people who come to the cafe value the exchange of ideas. “At Café Abraham, you find yourself having an honest talk about religion within five minutes,” Seidler says. Nour al-Huda Schröter, a liberal arts and sciences student, adds, “It’s important for us that you don’t have to justify yourself or have a theological background to join in the conversation. People can just talk about their lives.”

The Café Abraham team talks to people at the “Tag der Vielfalt” (Diversity Day) at the University of Freiburg. Photo: Harald Neumann

The theology and philosophy student Anne Fischbach studied in Jerusalem for two semesters. Her experiences there inspired her to come to Café Abraham. “Jerusalem is a place where different religions collide, but there’s no understanding between them. My studies abroad taught me how I don’t want to do things. We all have the same questions, even if we have different ways of expressing them in our religions.”

Talking with other people who have the same questions about God changes people’s understanding of the concept of religion. “It brings it closer; you understand it better,” says Seidler. False ideas are debunked, and prejudices and insecurities are dismantled. Franziska Fischer, who studies social work, was also surprised by how much she learned at her first visit to the cafe. Although she remembered a lot from her religion class at school, she says it was a real eye-opener to meet people who actually live according to their religion.

Prayer and Buffet

The café isn’t the only event the group organizes; they’ve also taken a tour of the Freiburg Münster and the synagogue and have attended Baha’i prayers. They also held a joint interdenominational prayer at the end of term that was followed by a buffet. In addition, the group can learn about different religious practices thanks to their contact with other religious groups at the university. “During Ramadan, I took part in an interdenominational breaking of the fast with the university’s group of Muslim students. There’s an atmosphere at religious services that is independent of the religion. There’s a feeling of unity that’s incredibly beautiful,” Fischer says.

Being interested in others and having a shared conversation is something the members strive for in society as a whole. “It’s not about agreeing with everyone or finding that one thing we all have in common; it’s about getting to know other people and regarding this diversity as an enriching experience,” says Seidler. For this reason, the students hope that Café Abraham is here to stay in Freiburg.

Alice Tátrai-Gruda


Enjoying a discussion over a cup of coffee

Café Abraham is organized by a group of students who meet every two weeks at 7 p.m. at a cafe in Freiburg. Anyone who is interested in taking part in an interdenominational conversation is welcome, regardless of their religion or background. You can find out where Café Abraham meets and read more about the group’s other events on their Facebook page.