Dispute resolution practitioners, like many professionals, vary in their perspectives on matters of faith and in how important religion is to them on a personal level. For some, their spiritual lives are central, motivating perhaps not only their decision to enter this field but the way they practice. For others, matters of faith are important but private -- something to be left outside the door, much like shoes at a Buddhist temple. Some, including those who consider themselves agnostics or atheists, may respect others' beliefs but not consider organized religion an important part of their own existence.
And yet, even in the most secular-seeming corners of our society, we often find that many of the conflicts that arise within particular communities involve the spiritual beliefs and religious practices of the participants -- and at times, those of the neutral. Some conflicts are doctrinal or involve leadership roles within religious organizations; in other contexts, they are personal or family-oriented. But in both instances, the spiritual orientation of the participants often leads them to a religious tribunal or a process in which the neutral recognizes that religion is a crucial component of the dispute and also its resolution. The growing emergence of these trends compels our attention.