Archive for the ‘Publications and Reports’ Category
A coalition of Buddhist and Muslim leaders from South and South East
Asia met in Bangkok on June 16th to endorse the 2006 Dusit Declaration,
and to commit to act cooperatively with new proposals to stabilize
inter-religious relations in the region. This coalition inspires the
hope that conflict manifesting in violence, like the recent attacks in
Bodhgaya, can be prevented.
Highlights of the 2006 Dusit Declaration include efforts to encourage
media outlets to be more evenhanded towards both religions in their
broadcasting, the expansion of unbiased religious perspectives taught in
children’s classrooms, and a new emphasis on inter-religious harmony in
The declarations made in Thailand (found in this International Buddhist-Muslim Joint Statement) focus
on the potential benefits of tolerance: “We are also deeply aware that
if Buddhist and Muslim communities can overcome the challenges that
confront them, there is tremendous potential for the growth and
development of ideas and values that may help to transform the region.”
The coalition organized by the International Network of Engaged
Buddhists (INEB), the International Movement for a Just World (JUST),
and Religions for Peace (RfP) included representatives from seven
countries with the allegiance of some international participants.
The Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions applauds this
coalition for being a model of cooperation and tolerance in the South
East Asian region.
Al Haj U Aye Lwin, Muslim, Chief Convener, Islamic Center of Myanmar and a Founder of Religions for Peace Myanmar
U Myint Swe, Buddhist, President, Ratana Metta, and President of Religions for Peace Myanmar
Harsha Navaratne, Buddhist, Sewalanka Foundation
Dr. M.A. Mohamed Saleem, Muslim, President of Mahatma Ghandi Centre in Sri Lanka
Ven. Professor. Kotapitiye Rahula, Buddhist,
Department of Pali & Buddhist Studies, University of Peradeniya; Sri
Lanka Council of Religions for Peace
Ven. Dr. Divulapelesse Wimalananda thero, Buddhist, University of Peradeniya
Ven. Kalayanamitta Dhammapala, Buddhist, Wat Thong Noppakul
Ven. Balangoda Manju Sri Thero, Buddhist, Senior Buddhist Sangha for Inter-faith Peace
Dr. Chandra Muzaffar, Muslim, President, International Movement for a Just World (JUST)
Anas Zubedy, Muslim, Secretary General, JUST
Fah Yen Yin, Program Coordinator, JUST
K V Soon Vidyananda, Buddhist, Malaysia Engaged Buddhist Network
Muhammad Habib Chirzin, Muslim, Islamic Forum on Peace, Human Security and Development
Abdul Mu’ti, Muslim, Central Board Muhammadiyah
Wintomo Tjandra, Buddhist, Hikmahbudhi
Sulak Sivaraksa, Buddhist, Sathirakoses-Nagapradipa Foundation
Ven. Phra Bhanu Cittadhanto, Buddhist, Wat Phra Ram IV (Kanchanobhisek)
Parichart Suwannabuppha, Buddhist, Institute of Human Rights and Peace Studies, Mahidol University, Salaya,
Saroj Puaksumlee, Muslim, Leader of Bann Krua Community, Bangkok
Ratawit Ouaprachanon, Buddhist, Spirit in Education Movement
Somboon Chungprampree, Buddhist, International Network of Engaged Buddhists
Patcharee Conmanat, Buddhist, International Network of Engaged Buddhists
Rev. Kyoichi Sugino, Deputy Secretary General, Religions for Peace
Rev. Shin’ichi Noguchi, Niwano Peace Foundation
Russell Peterson, American Friends Service Committee
Prashant Varma, Deer Park Institute, India
The Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions congratulates
the Hindu American Foundation on their successful campaign to make
October the Hindu-American Awareness and Appreciation Month in the state
of California. In a release from HAF Press, State Senate Majority
Leader, Ellen Corbett, was interviewed about her recent work to bring
Resolution SCR 32 to a vote. “As the Senator representing the 10th State
Senate District, I am honored to represent constituents from many
diverse backgrounds, including a significant number of Hindu Americans,”
said Majority Leader Corbett. “California is home to a thriving
community of over 370,000 Hindu Americans that enrich our state’s
diversity and professional assets in fields as diverse as
academia, science, technology, business, arts and literature. I thank my
colleagues for supporting SCR 32 today that recognizes Hindu American
contributions in California, as well as designates October 2013 in their
honor.” The resolution was passed unanimously.
This passage marks a great interfaith triumph as, according to the
release, “the resolution also received the support of 55
non-governmental organizations, interfaith leaders, civil rights
activists, and community leaders from across the country, who previously
wrote to all State Senators urging them to pass SCR 32.” As for this
October, many are looking forward to the various events and
opportunities for discussion as the month becomes a platform for Hindu
For more information, please connect to The Hindu American Foundation.
Run, Hide, or Fight
First U.S. Government Guide Released For Confronting Gunmen in Houses of Worship
June 20, 2013
On Tuesday, U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden announced the government’s first guidebook instructing faith congregations to prepare for an armed shooter situation. Speaking
at an emergency preparedness event on gun violence, Biden detailed the
38-page document’s purpose in response to the recent rash of gun
tragedies in school and faith settings. The “Guide for Developing High
Quality Emergency Operation Plans for Houses of Worship” outlines
strategies to appoint and train congregation members on:
- assigning congregation members to assess immediate threats,
- determining the best places for shelter and useful hiding spots
- identifying who should run, who should hide, and who should fight back
- planning effective evacuations in the event of an armed gun attack
- depicting “scenarios” and considering response options in advance
- developing survivor mindset to increase the odds of surviving
Developed in consultation with clergy
from the United States concerned about mass shooters, the guide attempts
to address fears rising since summer 2012, when a gunman shot and
killed six Sikhs inside the gurdwara of Oak Creek, Wisconsin. The team
of agencies collaborating to produce the document include Department of
Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Department
of Justice, Department of Health and Human Services, and the Federal
Bureau of Investigation It is addressed that training through the guidebook may become mandatory for faith houses receiving federal funds.
We invite you to discuss this landmark move by the U.S. government with us on Facebook.
What kinds of questions do you have about the guidebook? Would you
ask your faith leaders to implement this training? Does the guidebook
seem helpful? Do you think completing training like this increases
security, or perpetuates fear?
If you are in the New York-area this weekend, we hope you will join the premiere of Faith Against Hate: A Day of Interfaith Learning and Relationship. Presented
in partnership with the Interfaith Institute of the Islamic Center of
Long Island Saturday, June 22, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. at Hofstra University,
“Religious Freedom Under Attack” headed a recent L.A. Times editorial.
With tunnel vision squarely focusing on the status of turbulent
nations, the column exposed merely the harshest facts in a new
government report which also shines a little light on world interfaith
Of course, it would be neglectful of the media to ignore the current
religious climate. One ongoing crisis in this camp is the Bahai’s
worldwide protest efforts amping up against Iranian courts for jailing
seven leaders for more than five years now, simply for being Baha’i and
not sharing the faith sponsored by the state. Therefore, headlining any
story about religion and governments because of cases like the Baha’is sets the stage for most reports to seem like totally bad news.
The U.S. Department of State report breaking down the state of religious freedom around the world in 2012 does describe a world beleaguered with turmoil. However, it also clues religious-government watchdogs in on how
the American government applies its 15-year-old International Religious
Freedom Act of 1998, even when not promising to diffuse some of the
worst trouble spots.
It also points to some yet-to-be-really-covered-by-the-media good news:
Mentioning some positive action by governments where promoting religious liberty has proved tricky, 2012 demonstrates some indication that interfaith action by governments on the rise.
15 Countries Improving Religious Freedom
Source: U.S. Department of State International Religious Freedom Report 2012 Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. Citations: Section II: Status of Government Respect for Religious Freedom Improvements and
Positive Developments in Respect for Religious Freedom. Consult report
for more national information, religious demography, identifications and
In October President Kikwete visited several churches in
the Mbagala suburb of Dar es Salaam which were burned or damaged
following religious unrest. He urged self-restraint and emphasized that
citizens should not take the law into their own hands.In November the
prime minister publicly pledged to initiate a national dialogue between
religious leaders to promote religious tolerance; this had not occurred
by year’s end. Also in November, the Interfaith Council asked to meet
with the president to discuss intolerance among factions within the
Muslim community and Christian groups. This meeting did not take place
by year’s end.In November the prime minister took a strong stand against
the October religious violence, calling for political and religious
tolerance.On December 31, President Kikwete stated that the country
faced, for the first time in its history, the possibility of civil
strife and division along religious lines. He encouraged religious and
political leaders to take seriously their responsibility to ensure that
citizens continue to live peacefully regardless of their religion,
ethnicity, color, or place of origin.
Some positive steps were taken during the year to address
specific religious freedom concerns. The LFNC, joined during the year by
the Ministry of Home Affairs, instructed local officials on religious
tolerance and in some situations intervened in cases where members of
minority religious groups, particularly Christians, had been harassed or
In an effort to promote consultation among all stakeholders
concerning revisions to Decree 92, the LFNC and Ministry of Home
Affairs organized meetings for religious group representatives in
Vientiane, Champasak, Bokeo, and Bolikhamxay Provinces, and the city of
Vientiane. The meetings allowed for open discussion about the
government’s plan to amend the decree, and provided an opportunity for
religious groups to offer suggestions for its improvement.
In collaboration with the LFNC, the Institute for Global
Engagement, a U.S.-based religious freedom organization, conducted
training for provincial and district officials and local religious
leaders to help both sides better understand each other and the scope of
The government eased its control over the Catholic
community in the north. At year’s end, a Catholic bishop in Luang
Prabang was in the process of establishing residency and identifying
land for the construction of a church building with the support of local
authorities. A Vientiane church delegation, accompanied by LFNC
officials, traveled to Bokeo Province to visit Catholic communities in
Houayxay, Meuang, and Tonpheung. The church was able to expand
charitable activities and provided assistance to a school for the deaf
in Luang Prabang.
On February 21, Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin
participated in World Interfaith Harmony Week. Activities held during
the week included community activities and religious forums.
On December 26, church leaders announced the government had
rescinded quotas, age limits and other travel restrictions previously
imposed on Christian Malaysians who wished to make a pilgrimage to
On November 3, the Perlis Al Islah Association in
collaboration with the Islamic Council of Perlis, a government entity,
and the Perlis Malay Customs Council (an NGO) organized an interfaith
forum “Gateway to Interfaith Goodwill (Gema) 2012.” The crown prince of
Perlis chaired the forum, which was designed as a platform for
interaction among different religions with the hope of creating a better
understanding between them. Seventeen religious groups, including
representatives of Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism, and
Taoism, attended the forum.
In a statement to Christian leaders in January, the prime
minister promised full consultation when assigning mission school heads.
He also agreed to after-school Bible classes, as well as implementation
of a regulation that allowed non-Muslim places of worship to apply for
tax exempt status for donations received from individuals. This was the
first time the prime minister had addressed these issues in a public
statement. The tax regulation went into effect shortly thereafter.
On June 8, in a change of visa policy, the government
started granting missionary visas to other orders of religious workers
besides priests and nuns. This change granted all male religious orders
(priests, brothers, monks) and female religious orders (sisters and
nuns) eligibility for visas to conduct religious work. Religious
organizations previously complained that only priests and nuns could
obtain missionary visas. The immigration law does not have a formal
provision for missionary visas for individuals who do not have the rank
of priest or nun within their respective religious orders, which
includes Christian, Muslim, and Buddhist workers. In the past, the
government regularly granted visas to religious workers of some
religious groups who were not priests or nuns and uniformly applied the
eligibility to all religious groups by year’s end.
In May the government for
the first time granted 20 members of the Baha’i Faith permission to
participate in an annual religious pilgrimage to the Baha’i World Center
in Haifa, Israel. The nine-day pilgrimage allowed Bahais to visit
religious shrines and meet with fellow believers. In August the Local
Spiritual Assembly of the Bahais of Hanoi celebrated the twentieth
anniversary of its establishment in Hanoi. The day-long public
celebration was attended by nearly 100 followers from the northern area
of the country, 20 foreign Bahais representing countries in the region,
and government officials.
In July and August the CRA registered 20 new churches in
the Northwest Highlands. These included both Protestant and Catholic
During his appointment that began in January 2011,
Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli, the non-resident papal representative to
Vietnam, made eight visits to the country. The government and the
Vatican continued discussions toward normalizing relations. In September
Archbishop Girelli made his first visit to the Northwest Highlands to
meet with fellow believers. During his visit, the archbishop led mass
for congregants of newly recognized churches.
In June the government restored five acres of land to St.
Peter’s Catholic chapel in Hanoi. Congregants had formally petitioned
the government ten years earlier.
According to contacts from multiple faiths, the government
facilitated the construction of new places of worship, including
Christian churches, Buddhist temples, monasteries and pagodas. The
government’s assistance included transferring land to religious groups,
granting building permits, or granting small construction grants through
Authorities allowed Jehovah’s Witnesses to hold a three-day
convention in Minsk in July. Over 7,500 members from across the country
reportedly attended the convention without official interference.
On March 27, the parliament amended the criminal code to
make religious motives an aggravating factor for all crimes. Although
authorities prosecuted no crimes under the new amendment during the
year, the Georgian Young Lawyers Association stated that passage of the
amendment could discourage such crimes.
In April parliament passed legislation establishing SPZs in
the historic center of Prizren and the village of Velika Hoca/Hoce e
Madhe, both of which contained numerous religious and cultural sites
dating to the thirteenth century. In July the Constitutional Court
upheld the legislation and rejected appeals claiming the law would
unconstitutionally give special rights to Serbs over the rights of other
In a January Holocaust Memorial Day speech, the prime
minister apologized for the participation of the country’s officials in
the expulsion of Jews during World War II when the country was under
Nazi occupation. The speech was the first formal direct apology from the
government and was commended by religious figures. In November the head
of the police department also apologized for police participation in
expelling Jews during the war years. Some social commentators and
religious leaders stated this was even more significant than the prime
minister’s Holocaust Memorial Day speech.
The government made a number of monetary grants to increase
security for the Jewish community and to combat anti-Semitism in
schools. The government allocated 7.2 million kroner ($1.25 million) for
security at the Jewish Religious Community’s (DMT) facility and
synagogue in Oslo. In addition to the funding, the Ministry of Justice
and Public Security announced it would maintain a dialogue with the DMT,
the Police Security Services, and the Police Directorate to ensure that
the DMT’s facilities were properly safeguarded. The Ministry of
Education granted 6 million kroner ($1.05 million) for programs that
included training about anti-Semitism in schools throughout the next
three years. The Ministry of Government Administration and Church
Affairs will finance the DMT’s new online anti-Semitism reporting
In a February session held behind closed doors, the
Ecumenical Patriarch addressed the parliament’s Constitutional
Reconciliation Sub-Committee, which was responsible for drafting a new
constitution. This was the first time in the history of the republic
that a leader of a religious minority group addressed the parliament.
Subsequently, representatives of the Syrian Orthodox community also
testified before the sub-committee.
The government continued to implement a 2011 decree
allowing a one-year period for religious minority foundations to apply
for the return of, or compensation for, properties seized by the
government in previous decades. Between 1936 and 2011, the government
seized thousands of properties belonging to Christian and Jewish
religious foundations. A 1936 law required that religious foundations
compile and officially register lists of all properties owned. Although
it was widely recognized at the time that these lists were not
comprehensive, the government then began seizing unlisted properties
from religious foundations. A 1974 High Court of Appeals ruling
interpreting the 1936 law stated it had been illegal for religious
foundations to acquire any new property after 1936, enabling the
government to seize without compensation religious foundation properties
acquired between 1936 and 1974.
By August, the GDF had received approximately 1,560
applications for the return of seized properties from the Greek
Orthodox, Armenian Orthodox, Jewish, Syrian Orthodox, Bulgarian
Orthodox, Georgian Orthodox, Chaldean, and Armenian Protestant
communities. By year’s end, the GDF had reviewed approximately 200 of
the applications and returned 71 properties to religious community
foundations, made offers of compensation for 15 properties, declined 19
applications for lack of evidence, and returned the remaining
applications for the correction of technical problems. The government
established an arbitration system for foundations that believed the
amount of compensation received for a property was inadequate. If the
arbitration process is unsuccessful, foundations will have access to the
courts for redress.
The decree did not alter the law that made it possible to
seize property acquired after 1936, nor did it change the complicated
procedure for administering foundation properties that contributed to
the seizure of many properties. Additionally, the decree did not cover
properties taken from religious institutions or communities that do not
have legally recognized foundations, including the Roman Catholic and
The 2011 decree also permitted the formation of new
religious community foundations as well as the reopening of foundations
that had previously been closed and whose assets the GDF had
confiscated. The GDF approved new or reactivated foundations for the
Jewish community in Izmir, the Armenian Orthodox community in Istanbul,
and the Greek Orthodox community in Istanbul. Prior to the 2011 decree,
the government had approved only one new religious community foundation
since the founding of the republic—the Istanbul Protestant Church
Foundation in 2003.
In September the Basrah Provincial Council Committee for
Religious Minorities called on the central government to provide support
for Iraqi Christians who wanted to make pilgrimages to Jerusalem and
Bethlehem, equating these trips with the Muslim Hajj.
Throughout the year, Iraqi Security Forces deployed police
and army personnel to protect religious pilgrimage routes and sites, as
well as places of worship during religious holidays. In late September,
the Iraqi Security Forces deployed 20,000 police and army personnel to
Karbala to protect land routes pilgrims take to Saudi Arabia for the
Hajj; and in late October, the Iraqi Security forces deployed 12,000
police and army personnel to the holy city of Karbala to protect
hundreds of thousands of religious pilgrims to the city for Eid al-Adha.
The Ministry of Human Rights reported that it took several
steps to protect members of minority religious groups and address their
concerns. They conducted an investigation into the phenomenon of
suicides of Yezidi young people; provided humanitarian assistance to
internally displaced minority groups, including Christians; and held
over 200 workshops throughout the country on minority rights.
The Ministry of Human Rights reported that during the year
Iraqi Security Forces escorted 1,300 Christian students from
al-Hamdaniya to Mosul to attend school each day, and increased the
number of night patrols in Christian neighborhoods in Mosul.
The KRG continued to welcome Christians from outside the
IKR who moved to the region due to perceived discrimination and threats
to their safety elsewhere. Armenian Church of America archbishop Vicken
Aykazian said in December that the IKR “has become a safehaven for
Christians, [and] the [regional] government is building churches,
schools, and community centers for them,” adding that “Christians today
feel very comfortable [in the the IKR].”
There were no violent attacks against Messianic Jews and
notably fewer physical assaults against Jehovah’s Witnesses during the
year. The police investigated all known instances of religiously
motivated attacks and made arrests when possible, including in August
when the police arrested seven suspects for assault, harassment, and
arson in connection with Haredi protests against the opening of an
Orthodox all-girls school in Beit Shemesh.
The state formally recognized non-Orthodox rabbis for the
first time on May 30 and agreed to fund Reform and Conservative rabbis
appointed by rural communities.
The MOI did not arrest, detain, require bail for entry or a
written pledge to abstain from missionary activity, or refuse entry to
anyone due to their religious beliefs. There was no indication that the
MOI collected data on alleged missionaries from antimissionary groups
and used it to deny entry to the country to foreign individuals. There
was no official statement that the policy had changed, but no incidents
were reported since the July 2011 action of a Jerusalem district court
judge who reprimanded the MOI for the illegal procedure.
On August 2, the Knesset amended legislation from 2010 to apply tax exemptions to all places of religious instruction equally.
13. Israel and The Occupied Territories – Israel and The Occupied Territories – The Occupied Territories
PA-Israeli security cooperation at Joseph’s Tomb improved
during the year following an agreement reached in 2011 between the PA,
the IDF, and the Ministry of Defense’s civil administration to station
10 permanent PA police officers at the tomb. On February 9, PA forces
accompanied 15 rabbis from the West Bank’s Huwwara checkpoint to the
tomb in the first such security coordination with Israeli forces. The PA
coordinated all visits with Israel.
Israel issued slightly more than 100,000 permits to allow
Palestinian West Bank residents to enter Jerusalem during the month of
Ramadan, representing a seven-fold increase from the 16,700 permits it
granted in 2011. It expanded the categories of people exempted from the
permit requirement for men and women above age 40 and allowed persons
between the ages of 35 and 40 to receive permits.
In March the government permitted the funeral of Shia
cleric Abdallah Dadou, killed in a fire in Belgium, to take place in
Tangier. The funeral was the first public Shia ceremony in the country
in many years.
Religious groups reported improved ability to attract new
members without government interference. The majority of religious
groups reported reduced interference from the government in conducting
their services, and improvement in their ability to import religious
materials, receive donations from overseas, and travel abroad to attend
conferences and religious events. Many religious groups found it easier
to bring in foreign religious workers and visitors and restore houses of
The government requested Pope Benedict XVI’s visit and
provided extensive logistical support during his March 26-29 trip,
including allowing the Pope to say mass in the central squares of the
two largest cities, and declaring the three days of the visit a national
holiday to facilitate citizen participation in the open-air religious
ceremonies. Footage of the visit was broadcast on state-run television
stations, and the visit was reported in print and radio. A few
Protestant churches reported that they were also permitted to hold
religious ceremonies in public spaces.
By Marcus Braybrooke for The Interfaith Observer
The Early Years of the Interfaith Movement
The legacy of the 1893 World Parliament of Religions did not live up
to the high hopes of its organizers. The dream of a new era of universal
peace too soon became the bloody nightmare of twentieth century
battlefields and genocide.
Leo XIII officially censured the Roman Catholic speakers at the
Parliament and forbade participation in “future promiscuous
conventions.” The openness to other faiths shown by many Christians at
the 1910 World Missionary Conference in Edinburgh was soon obscured by
Karl Barth and Hendrik Kraemer, who stressed the distinctiveness of the
Gospel over against religions, which, they proposed, were a futile human
effort to reach God.
Yet there was a legacy. The Parliament created awareness among some
that there are “wells of truth outside Christianity.” Historian Sidney
Ahlstrom said it began the slow change by which Protestant America was
to become a multi-racial society. Swami Vivekananda and Dharmapala
established continuing Vedanta and Buddhist groups in the United States.
The Parliament also stimulated the academic study of religions. The
Haskell lectureship endowment at the University of Chicago brought
distinguished scholars of “comparative religion” to the school and
enabled Henry Barrows, secretary of the Parliament, to lecture in Asia.
In 1901 the first meeting of the International Congress for the
History of Religions (IAHR) was held as part of the Paris Universal
Exposition, though this was for the scientific study of religions and
not for interfaith dialogue. The distinguished scholar Joseph Kitagawa
wrote, “it becomes clear that what the Parliament contributed to Eastern
religions was not comparative religion as such. Rather Barrows and his
colleagues should receive credit for initiating what we call today the
‘dialogue among various religions,’ in which each religious claim for
ultimacy is acknowledged.”
Initial Institutional Developments
activities continue today around the world. This recent gathering was
in Andhra Pradesh in India. Photo: iarf.netPlans for another Parliament
in 1901, possibly in India, came to nothing – although small scale
parliaments were held in Japan and elsewhere. The obvious ‘child’ of the
Parliament was the International Association for Religious Freedom
(IARF), as it is now known, which held its first meeting in 1900. The
prime mover was Charles William Wendte, born in Boston in 1844, had
helped plan the 1893 Parliament. His parents had come to the United
States on their honeymoon and stayed on. Wendte’s father became a
Unitarian after being astonished to hear “something sensible from a
preacher!” To his delight, his son became a Unitarian minister.
Besides his congregational responsibilities, Charles Wendte built up
close relations with the German Free Protestant Union. With the American
Unitarians, they were the main supporters of IARF, though among the
2,000 participants at the 1907 Boston Congress were some members of the
Brahmo Samaj and a handful of liberal Jews, Muslims, and Catholics. (A
longer profile of the IARF will be published here later this year.)
The World Congress of Faith can claim a more distant relationship.
Its links with the 1893 Parliament came through the “Second Parliament
of Religions,” held in Chicago in 1933, in conscious imitation of the
earlier event. The 1933 Parliament, a largely forgotten event, was
initiated by Charles Weller and Mr. Das Gupta. Weller, a social worker,
started the League of Neighbours in 1918 to help integrate African
Americans and foreign-born citizens into American life.
Das Gupta had come in 1908 from India to England. To help remedy
British ignorance of India, he organized the Union of East and West.
Then in 1920 he accompanied Rabindranath Tagore to the United States.
Das Gupta stayed on and restarted his Union of East and West in America.
Early in the 1920s he met Weller. Together they merged the League of
Neighbours and the Union of East and West to create the Fellowship of
Faiths. The Fellowship arranged in several cities meetings at which a
member of one faith paid tribute to another faith. It also published a
journal called Appreciation.
In May 1929, the World Fellowship of Faiths met in Chicago. This
revived memories of the city’s 1893 Parliament and led to a similar
event being held to coincide with the Second World Fair in 1933.
Twenty-seven gatherings were held in Chicago, with a total attendance of
44,000 people. Preliminary meetings were also held in New York. Bishop
McConnell claimed, perhaps unfairly, that the 1933 gathering was an
advance on the 1893 event. “The first difference,” he said, “is that
instead of a comparative parade of rival religions, all faiths were
challenged to apply their religion to help solve the urgent problems
which impede man’s progress. The second difference is that the word
‘faiths’ is understood to include, not only all religions, but all types
of spiritual consciousness.”
One of those who attended the 1933 Parliament was Sir Francis
Younghusband, who three years later arranged the first World Congress of
Faiths in London. The minutes of the first planning meeting make clear
the link with the World Fellowship of Faiths, which had arranged the
Second World Parliament of Religions in 1933. Younghusband soon made
clear to Das Gupta that, although grateful to him and the World
Fellowship of Faiths, that he – Younghusband – was in charge of the
The World Fellowship of Faiths described itself as “a movement not a
machine; a sense of expanding activities, rather than an established
institution, an inspiration more than an achievement. It has never
sought to develop a new religion or unite divergent faiths on the basis
of a least common denominator of their convictions. Instead, it held
that the desired and necessary human realization of the all-embracing
spiritual Oneness of the Good Life Universal must be accompanied by the
appreciation (brotherly love) for all the individualities, all the
differentiations of function, by which true unity is enriched.” This is
still a fair description of the interfaith movement.
Rabbi Michael Balinsky, Treasurer of the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions Board of Trustees, was just named one of “America’s Most Inspiring Rabbis” by The Jewish Daily Forward. Of
the honor, Balinsky said a former student had nominated him after
inspiring him to become a rabbi. “It was all very touching,” Balinsky
Rabbi Adam J. Rosenbaum describes Balinsky’s influence on his journey toward Rabbinical work:
“As my Hillel rabbi at Northwestern University, Rabbi
Balinsky showed me that it was possible to guide young people toward
Jewish observance with a sense of tolerance, openness and patience. He
was sensitive to the fact that college students endure many ups and
downs, and he approached each student with a proper mix of honesty and
compassion. Most of all, no matter what I asked him, his answer and tone
were both genuine and respectful. He is the reason why I became a
rabbi, and if I can one day become half the rabbi that Michael Balinsky
is, my community will benefit greatly.”
Joining an esteemed group of spiritual thinkers, luminaries of
religion, and Interfaith leaders, Imam Malik Mujahid is featured in the
newly released e-zine, “The Coming Interspiritual Age.” This 192-page
digital magazine is a complement of the recently released book of the
same title by Kurt Johnson and David Robert Ord forecasting an
evolutionary interspiritual movement referenced by the writings of
Brother Wayne Teasdale, a former Parliament trustee.
Chairman Mujahid’s stories in Namaste Publications’ “The Coming Interspiritual Age”
disclose his personal perceptions of being a co-trustee with Bro. Wayne
Teasdale on an Interfaith board reacting to September 11, 2001, the
relevance and future of Interfaith, and the role of Parliament. From
there, his views on global interspirituality, mysticism, and how the
“Timeless Wisdom” is steeped in us all to encounter is explored in
E-Zine Contributors: Eckhart Tolle, Ken Wilber, David Korten,
Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, Charles Gibbs, Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid, Ashok
Gangadean, Mirabai Starr, Nancy Roof, Kurt Johnson, Constance Kellough,
Alison van Dyk, Dena Merriam, Russill Paul, Thomas Huebl, Leo Semasko,
M. Darrol Bryant, Ed Bastian, Diane Berke, Phillip Hellmich, Rupert
Spira, Loch Kelly, Paul Chaffee, Rabbi Rami Shapiro, Adam Bucko,Rory
McEntee, Robert Toth, Ralph Singh, Gorakh Hayashi, Matthew Cobb, Janet
Quinn, Maurizio and Zaya Benazzo, Neill Walker, Tim Miner, Cassandra
Vieten, Jody Lotito-Levine, Kristin Hoffmann, Kenji Williams, Weston
Pew, Bruce Schuman
The Power of Listening, Brother Teasdale & the Parliament of World Religions
By Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid
I did not know him well. But he gave me a very important lesson in listening.
It was days after 9/11 when we were in a CPWR meeting. We were thinking about
the future. Everyone was coming up with good ideas. Interfaith people are so much
alike. Their smiles, their language, the way they carry themselves is quite similar. So
much so that I developed a level of skepticism toward the “interfaith people” as nice
people who hang out with the other nice people.
In the meeting, Brother Wayne Teasdale was quiet, listening attentively. And then
he spoke. It was the first time I heard him speak. What he had to say literally woke
everyone up from “just being nice”.
It is important, he said, that we listen to the voices which are not normally heard.
Why not invite extremists to our Parliament? Why not hear from them about their
His thoughts somewhat disrupted this gathering of “nice interfaith people.” There
was a detectable level of discomfort. My own discomfort was a little higher for other
reasons: suddenly everyone was looking at me. He added yes, may be our Muslim
friends can arrange for those voices to be present.
Now so many years after I am more used to people looking at me like that. At that
time I was a bit offended being looked at as though I had some sort of agency of
extremists. But as soon as the stares moved away from me, I was deeply absorbed
thinking about his wisdom and courage to say something like that so soon after 9/
That was the foundation when we selected the theme for the Barcelona Parliament
of the World’s Religions as “Pathways to Peace: The Wisdom of Listening, the
Power of Commitment.”
The Parliament of the World’s Religions in 1893 was an extra-ordinary event but
an event nevertheless. The Parliament is, thankfully, no longer an event. It is a
movement. The Parliament has evolved to become a summit of extra-ordinary
human beings who are active in their cities and regions for the common good;
articulating the best of their ideals and living them in deliberate relationships with
other people of other religions and traditions. They come, they listen, they share,
they learn and go back to their homes inspired and informed to re-nourish their
communities and expand the sphere of their interfaith universe.
The Parliament program is normally divided in three broad tracks. In one track,
people listen directly to others talk about their own religion and tradition, a
powerful opportunity for banishing negative stereotypes. Another track invites
people to share about their relationships with other faith communities; and yet
another track discusses the common issues facing humanity and how religions are
working with each other to think, provide, and promote solutions.
The interfaith movement is growing by leaps and bounds. Not only people of faith
are founding and expanding this movement, but people of no faith, civil society and
government institutions are also looking to interfaith relations as a vehicle of human
With that in mind, the Parliament strategic plan has included between Parliament
programs to continuously engage the interfaith community with a whole set of
learning opportunities about interfaith dialogue, organizing and engagement.
As the forces of fear, anger and hate rise, we believe that people of loving
relationship need to be stronger than ever and better equipped with the best
practices of interfaith to mediate negativity into the positive energy needed for
human societies to grow and flourish.
In the global village, a spark of anger can go beyond burning the neighborhood
down — it can create lasting harm. The Parliament might have been ahead of its time
in the past, but it is the call of our time now.
And one of the critical issues of now is the challenge of climate change — this
requires behavioral change along with good public policies. It is the people of faith
who have the most transformative impact on those who listen to them week after
week — and that is a whole lot of people around the world.
We are not about creating another faith by some odd merging of religions. We are
about harmony between people of faith for the common good.
Well. We were unable to get some extremist to the Barcelona Parliament. We did not
know them to invite them. Probably the CIA knows their way about. But they are too
busy playing drones to kill them as soon as they find their address and if not them,
their neighbors and look-alikes.
In the 2009 Melbourne Parliament, however, I did present a talk about “The Street
Theology of Anger” to articulate the extremists’ abusive distortion of Islamic
teachings. That was inspired by Brother Teasdale’s wish to listen to the difficult
voices. I was surprised to see an overflowing crowd and was happy that there were
not many loaded stares
Continue Reading “The Coming Interspiritual Age” for Imam Malik Mujahid’s perspectives on Global Mysticism and Spirituality.
Dedicating words of spiritual guidance to the inauguration of U.S. President Barack Obama January 21, this Huffington Post feature shares a beautiful prayer from CPWR Trustee, Dr. Tarunjit Singh Butalia:
“O Creator and Sustainer of Life. Bless our nation
with strength and humility, confidence and compassion, safety and shared
security, as well as prosperity and loving kindness. May we continue to
stand up for the weak and oppressed so we can be a light to the world
for the dignity of all human beings. May we be respectful of our sacred
environment and engage in civil discourse that leads us towards national
progress. Bless this great nation and its citizens, our President, and
our elected representatives so we can work together to create a more
perfect union for all.”
CPWR Trustee Butalia is a Sikh faith leader with progressive results
facilitating interreligious relations. Butalia’s benediction reflects
the shared spiritual will of faith traditions in support of the national
community and its global relationships.
CPWR staff offer our warmest wishes for peace and progress to
President Obama as he begins his second term, and to CPWR’s new and
continuing Trustees beginning the 2013 term.
Dr. Tarunjit Singh Butalia is a member of the Interfaith
Committee of the World Sikh Council – America Region (WSC-AR) and served
as the Secretary General of the organization for 2004-2005. At the
national level on behalf of WSC-AR, he is on the Presidents Council and
Steering Committee of Religions for Peace – USA as its Moderator, and
serves on the Board of Directors of the North American Interfaith
Network as its Vice-Chair.
9mm Golden Calves
by James E. Atwood | January 2013
Originally printed in Sojourners Magazine
IN 1990, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) issued this warning: “The
religious community must … take seriously the risk of idolatry that
could result from an unwarranted fascination with guns, which overlooks
or ignores the social consequences of their misuse.” Two decades later,
about 660,000 more Americans have been killed by guns, with a million
These figures convince me that what was a risk in 1990 has become our
reality today: For too many, guns have become idols. They claim divine
status; make promises of safety and security they cannot keep; transform
people and neighborhoods; create enemies; and require human sacrifice.
Not all gun owners have permitted their guns to become idols or
absolutes. In fact, a recent poll shows most gun owners and NRA members,
in contrast to public perception, believe personal freedom and public
safety are complementary, not contradictory. But those few who hold the
microphone at the NRA (the wealthy manufacturers and the gun zealots who
do their bidding) have permitted their fascination for guns to supplant
God and God’s requirements for human community.
An idol’s followers boldly claim divine status for it. Former NRA
executive Warren Cassidy was clear when he boasted, “You would get a far
better understanding [of the NRA] if you approached us as if you were
approaching one of the great religions of the world.” Not to be outdone,
Charlton Heston, during a speech as NRA president, intoned, “Sacred
stuff resides in that wooden stock and blued steel—something that gives
the most common man [sic] the most uncommon of freedoms, when ordinary
hands can possess such an extraordinary instrument that symbolizes the
full measure of human dignity and liberty.”
To turn away from the idolatry of guns will require community
dialogue, self-examination, and prayer. One part of our response should
also be to enact common-sense gun laws—which, when they have teeth, are
very effective. We in the U.S. need two new federal laws, which would
almost guarantee an immediate, dramatic decline in gun violence. The
first needed law is a renewed ban on the sale of assault weapons. Good
citizens have no need for guns that can rapidly fire up to 150 rounds
without reloading and are designed to kill great numbers of people in
close-quarter military combat. These are the weapons of choice for
deranged individuals who are determined to kill. They must be banned in
A second common-sense law would require all gun purchasers to undergo
an instant background check. This is technically feasible today, but it
has not been implemented because the Gun Empire considers any law,
however wise or minimal, to be a coordinated attempt to confiscate their
weapons. Such a law would eliminate the many sales by unlicensed
dealers at America’s 5,000 gun shows—dealers who can, in most states,
legally sell any weapon to any person with no questions asked. It’s
simply cash and carry.
I make no claims of certainty in determining whether or not a
particular individual’s spirit has been converted by an idol, but for 37
years I have observed individuals who grow threatened and angry when
gun values are questioned; who show little grief for society’s gun
victims; who oppose any preventive measures to stop gun violence; and
who believe the solution to gun violence is to arm more people. I am
confident that such traits indicate that people are, at least,
struggling with idolatry as they turn a human-made thing into an
absolute that challenges the requirements of the living God. As Jesus
taught us, we cannot serve two masters.
James E. Atwood, a retired Presbyterian pastor, is a gun owner,
author of America and its Guns: A Theological Exposé, and chair of the
Greater Washington chapter of the anti-gun- violence group Heeding God’s
Image: Christmasstockimages.com Licensed for Re-Use
The School of Management Sciences, Varanasi and Centre for
Spiritualism and Human Enrichment (C-SHE), in partnership with
California State University San Bernardino (USA) and PHD Chamber of
Commerce & Industry (India), is organizing a three day International
Conference on “Leadership and Management through Spiritual Wisdom” from
22nd February to 24th February, 2013.
• Highlighting the challenges of leadership and management in globalized era.
• Exploring causes of leadership success and failures.
• Role of Spiritual wisdom in leadership and management.
• Developing insights into the dimensions of spiritual wisdom.
• Understanding means and methods for inculcating and practicing spiritual wisdom in
leadership and management.
• Developing a path where an individual become free, actualized and emancipated so as to
become an enlightened leader and to find out the basic alchemy for this kind of leadership who
can bridge the chasm between the opposites & spiritual view of life.
• Highlighting importance of inter-disciplinary approach to various professional disciplines for
bringing synergy and unified approach for solving management problems.
For more details please visit www.icon.smsvaranasi.com. To know more
about the Center for Spiritualism & Human Enrichment and its various
programs, please visit the website: http://cshe.smsvaranasi.com/
Papers should be sent at firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com