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The people of this world follow what is called "The Faith of the Seven". These gods represent different aspects of creation. They are:

  1. Khorne: god of war
  2. Tzenteech: god of change & ambition
  3. Nurgle: god of life & fertility
  4. Slaneesh: god of pleasure
  5. Nagash: god of death
  6. Sigmar: god of order
  7. The Star Child: god of machinery

These seven gods are ruled over by a higher god that doesn't interact with creation. He created the seven to interact with humans and govern the human world in his stead. Each nation follows this faith differently. Some worship each god equally, while others worship one above all others, but pay homage to their existence in some way.

A large Council made up of Representatives from all faiths keeps the peace between nations, irrespective of how they follow this religion. As a result, there have been no major wars between countries that attempt to slaughter unbelievers and convert survivors to their version. This Council have locations in every nation which are interconnected through a system of portals. These provide instantaneous travel between locations that only members of the Council can use.

In our world, the Abrahamic religions have had a complicated history with each other, despite them originating from the same God. Even sects within the same faiths have had conflict over minor details or interpretations, accusing each other of heresy and whatnot.

What would religions need to allow for interfaith councils like this to be successful?

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  • $\begingroup$ How does this council work ? Voting mechanism is what ? Is there a casting vote system if there's a tie ? Is there a veto system ? You might compare this with the UN Security Council to see just how easy it is to neuter such a system, as the key members have all done from time to time. $\endgroup$ – StephenG Jul 28 at 14:43
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    $\begingroup$ This isn't interfaith. As o.m. points out in an answer, you're talking about one religion with multiple Gods. Think Hinduism, where many deities are quite regional and not worshipped outside small(ish) areas, but are still part of the whole. $\endgroup$ – Cyn Jul 28 at 16:14
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    $\begingroup$ If you're planning to use the answer to this question as anything other than a thought experiment, do know that Games Workshop is very protective of their copyright and they'll not be pleased with you using their copyrighted names for something. $\endgroup$ – Theik Jul 29 at 6:34
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    $\begingroup$ HERESY! INQUISITION WILL HEAR ABOUT THIS! $\endgroup$ – Ege Bayrak Jul 29 at 9:24
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    $\begingroup$ The ancient Greek would constantly go to war with one another while at the same time praying to the same gods for success in battle. Army A would dedicate an offering and prayer to Atina and march...so would Army B. I'm not sure you're going to get to avoid conflicts. At least as far as humans are involved. And possibly as long as the humans have something to go to war over. The wars would happen regardless of the gods, unless the gods really object to those. $\endgroup$ – VLAZ Jul 29 at 12:16
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What you describe are not different religions, they are different cults within one polytheistic religion.

  • Have all cults within the religion acknowledge the existence and necessity of the entire pantheon. Individuals can still decide to worship Khorne or Nagash, or even try to make their cult more prominent in society, but attacking other cults would be disrespect to a "relative of the boss." Bad idea ...
  • Make representatives of all cults necessary for the most holy rites of each individual cult. On this day, we have come together to honor Nurgle, for death requires life and life requires death ...

The reason why it didn't work out that way in the real world is that the three big monotheistic religions are all different interpretations of the same God. Judaism is v1.0, Christianity is v2.0, Islam is v3.0. Christianity has a problem acknowledging Islam as "also valid" because they would have to explain why they didn't get the upgrade, so to speak. Talking your way around that contradiction requires some clever thinkers, which may not be there when some fanatics try to talk a village into a pogrom.

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    $\begingroup$ Nit: you said "different cults within one pantheistic religion" but I think you meant "different cults within one polytheistic religion." It's etymologically weird, I guess, but having a pantheon doesn't make one a follower of pantheism. (There are a few hits for the word "polytheon," but it doesn't seem to have caught on.) $\endgroup$ – Quuxplusone Jul 29 at 6:21
  • $\begingroup$ @Quuxplusone, yes, I should have known better. $\endgroup$ – o.m. Jul 29 at 15:55
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    $\begingroup$ It only didn't work out this way for Abrahamic religions. Comparing with Hinduism and Ancient Greek/Roman religions is more fitting—and they both mostly do work out that way: specific places have/had temples of different gods, but they all recognize the whole pantheon. $\endgroup$ – Jan Hudec Jul 29 at 20:22
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    $\begingroup$ It's not just Christians not acknowledging Islam, it goes the other way too. Muslims believe Jesus was just another prophet like Ezekiel or Habakkuk. Judaism doesn't really recognize either Jesus or Mohammad. Really the big 3 all mutually do not get along. $\endgroup$ – Ryan_L Jul 30 at 2:02
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    $\begingroup$ @Ryan_L, because they all claim incompatible "ony thruths," while e.g. the Greeks and Romans had many compatible "aspects of the truth." $\endgroup$ – o.m. Jul 30 at 5:22
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Don't Let the Gods Become Too Personal

This was one of Augustine's complaints, growing up in the Roman pantheism, in 'City of God'. While Roman faith had it's mysteries, festivals, and plays, in Augustine's opinion, they were more oriented towards entertainment and education than disciplining adherents in a philosophy. As an argument to prove his point, Augustine pointed out how often Jupiter played to role of villain in plays made in his honor, performed in his own temple.

While certain cults (the Vestals come to mind) had special relationships with the gods, and expectations on both side, the general public did not.

In contrast: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all have a special relationship between the believer and the god. In Judaism, every circumcised member of the race has been set apart as god's special people - with special rights, privileges, and responsibilities. Christians have a similar, but different special relationship. And Islam another. All three also try to proscribe a complete internally consistent moral philosophy that should provide for all your needs (which is not limited to just these three faiths).

Hopefully the difference is obvious. While violating the sacred spaces of the Vestals might cause some outrage and bloodshed (because they are a special case), or more generally it might be fun to pick on minority religions (Hypatia of Alexandria) or just blame those minority religions for the unsettled nature of the world (Corinthians and early Christians), this level of faith is still not as visceral as sincerely believing your father/mother/wife/husband/son/daughter can have the eternal good life, and some practitioner of some other faith is leading him/her astray.

Since you mentioned Games Workshop deities, Gav Thorpe's 'The Way of the Warrior' provides a good example. In that work there are thousands - maybe millions - of shrines on the Eldar homeworks teaching philosophies that vary from a little to a lot. There are rivalries between the schools that are run by students possessed by the founder of each denomination. Students come and go, with no lingering relationship beyond the experience.

If you can keep your faith entertaining, educational, fun, but not something as personal (or only as personal in a small number of cases; still not something everyone experiences) - I think it would work.

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There was a war once

When some followers of Khorne decided to elevate him above all others. Khorne was so disgusted with them that he persuaded his fellow gods to unite with him and found the council.

Oh the location where these people lived is still a blasted wasteland.

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    $\begingroup$ Ah, known as the 'or else' council :) $\endgroup$ – Orangesandlemons Jul 29 at 11:35
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You're asking about interfaith councils, but as others have pointed out, it sounds more like an intrafaith council. Which doesn't solve your problem (look at the schisms, sometimes violent, within Christianity and Islam), but it does change it some.

I know a clergy member who is very active in the local interfaith and intrafaith communities, and I was for a time involved in an interfaith group. My experience is that intrafaith efforts work more smoothly than one might expect in Jewish communities. Why the difference? I don't know this, but I think there is a little more acceptance of "multiple valid paths, each for its own community" there. Are there core requirements, lines you must not cross? Of course. But Judaism recognizes that some of the details, even important ones like what is kosher to eat, are not absolute -- there are multiple valid traditions.

Your nations are like that -- they all follow the same gods, have the same core tenets and (if applicable) texts and rules, but -- like the differences between Ashkenazim, S'fardim, and Mizrachim in Judaism -- there are differences. And those differences are ok. That doesn't mean anything goes; if one of the nations starts straying into whatever your core faith considers heresy, that's a problem. But if the council starts from the presumption that all of these varying national traditions are valid, that all the participating nations share a common religious goal and aspiration, you ought to be able to cut down on the religious wars.

No matter what you do, if it involves humans (or human-like beings) then you're going to have some fighting. There are arguments within Judaism about the legitimacy of some groups; I don't want to paint an overly rosy picture. There are arguments, some quite severe, but not all-out war.

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    $\begingroup$ Many times I've heard this described as the the difference in the level of dogma in Jewish belief than others which have more strict doctrine & dogma. Indeed, I have had arguments that one should believe in all 13 dogmas of Maimonides but even these tend to fall back on just the 3 dogmas of the Shema in intrafaith communities (with typical argument beyond those 3). Futher, thank you for spelling S'fardim correctly (so few do) $\endgroup$ – JGreenwell Jul 29 at 5:28
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Most wars are economical

Most wars and fighting in the history of man was not because they believed in different gods. Wars require a vast amount of resources and manpower and are usually only started if the group believes they can make a profit on the whole endeavor. Religions are a nice incentive/excuse to start a war, but as you see from the various schism and wars between people essentially sharing the same faith, people will always wage war if they can profit.

Make war undesirable for the clergy

If most of the very influential religious figures profit from inter-faith peace and only stand to lose from participating in wars, they will not promote wars. Furthermore your religious leaders need to be strong enough in their position so they can not be easily pressured or blackmailed by political leaders - or they will be pressured to legitimize a political war with their religious power.

Give the council high profits in international trade

One option to make war highly undesirable for the clergy is to make the council very very rich from peace-times. If the council as an institution holds shares in all major trading companies which trade between countries, they will get huge profits from stable trade routes and peace. If this money is collected monthly and distributed among all members of the council, every member will have an incentive to stay in the council and collect his share.

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    $\begingroup$ This will favor intrigue and backstabbing over all-out war, since everyone wants a bigger piece of the cake, but war will shrink the cake for everyone. - There will of course be smaller wars between local governours/barons and similar, but no big wars between countries if the clergy can stop it. $\endgroup$ – Falco Jul 29 at 9:46
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There's no problem because there's no issue with other gods existing; it's accepted by all parties they do. Moreover, in your setting, those gods actually exist and can demonstrate they exist and interact with their followers.

In the modern concept of Jewish/Christian/Islamic monotheism, God doesn't do that outside of old stories and legends. Regardless of whether you believe in the existence of the monotheistic God/Yahweh/Allah/Whatever/Whoever or not, this is demonstrably the case. If there's some dispute, everyone can argue they're doing God's will, but God (or Jesus, for Christians) doesn't show up and confirm that someone is right or that someone is completely full of crap, or that the disagreement is in itself silly. So when you get a doctrinal disagreement, it can result in violence because there's no voice thundering from the heavens to tell people to stop being stupid, and everyone involved thinks they're the one's speaking and acting for God.

This is clearly not the case in your setting. If someone starts getting heretical (say, by denying the existence of any deity but the one they worship, or denying the existence of gods in general) they could end up on the wrong end of a lightning strike. It's a lot easier to sort out disagreements if you know that if someone was clearly wrong, there would be a sign from the heavens that absolutely no one would ever confuse with being anything else.

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    $\begingroup$ "In the modern concept of Jewish/Christian/Islamic monotheism, God doesn't do that outside of old stories and legends." That actually varies quite a bit depending on who you're talking to. There are many modern-day Christians who would regard that statement as categorically false at best, blasphemous at worst. $\endgroup$ – Mason Wheeler Jul 29 at 18:47
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    $\begingroup$ @MasonWheeler, that I can make that statement is self-demonstrating that it is correct. The fact that said Christians would have to rely on something other than an objective fact that they, myself, a Hindu, a Buddhist, and a Wiccan could all agree on proves the point. $\endgroup$ – Keith Morrison Jul 29 at 20:43
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    $\begingroup$ No, because the statement that you made is that the situation that doesn't exist in modern times is one analogous to the story world where "those gods actually exist and can demonstrate they exist and interact with their followers." If there's one thing virtually everyone can agree on when it comes to religion, it's that Hindus, Buddhists, and Wiccans are by no means "followers" of Christianity. $\endgroup$ – Mason Wheeler Jul 29 at 20:55
  • $\begingroup$ Interesting points - this kind of reminds me of Hinduism. When foreigners/colonists first came to India and noticed all these gods and temples dedicated to them, and noticed that somehow not everyone was killing each other over the better God, they decided that everyone must have the same religion. Not so simple: every region has a god they care about more. They don't deny the existence of other gods, but they claim a certain 'ownership' to their own. That's why I quite like this response. Idk, just my opinion. $\endgroup$ – cyber101 Jul 30 at 18:29
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Your council has portal technology and a desire for peace among all nations. Unlike the religions of the real world, this is a united clergy with a technological advantage over their followers. With such an advantage, such a council's rule would be absolute for as long as it managed or obscured its inner power struggles from the outside world.

If the portal technological is interpreted as proof of divine intervention, then no other faith will be allowed to flourish without first providing a similarly irrefutable proof. To this end, keeping the portal technology guarded at the council locations will be critical.

Equally important is the presentation of a united front among council members. People will assume that the gods live peacefully with each other as long as the representatives of those gods live peacefully together. To this end, I would suggest that you give the council members an additional technological advantage. Have each of them implanted with a brain-to-brain interface linked by a radio technology based in the same advanced physics as the portals.

In this way, any council member can be in council with the rest of the council whenever they are in public. If a would-be radical tries to stir up a crowd based on the superiority of one of the gods over the others, a single council member, armed with the wisdom of the entire council can shut him down with peaceful words which simultaneously disprove his assertions while respecting and reinforcing the unifying image of a united pantheon of gods.

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Many religions are very tolerant of other faiths. They believe that different religions are real, but that only certain gods care about them, or they believe all religions are just different explanations of the same thing. The reason certain religions have so much issue with accepting other faiths is because intolerance of other gods is part of their faith. In general, monotheists have the most trouble with other religions because their faith includes things like the 1st Commandment or the jihad which are designed to maintain focus on just the one god.

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