The Parliament Blog

Waking In Oak Creek Reveals Community’s Inspiring Response to Hate

Not In Our Town’s new film Waking in Oak Creek profiles the powerful community response to the shooting at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in 2012. After six Sikh worshippers were killed and Oak Creek Police Lieutenant Brian Murphy was shot 15 times by a white supremacist, town leaders worked together to cultivate new bonds with the Sikh community and guide the community forward toward healing. Young temple members, still grieving from the tragedy, emerge as leaders, and thousands gather for vigils and a 6K run to honor the victims. Together, a community rocked by hate is awakened and transformed by the Sikh spirit of relentless optimism.

Waking in Oak Creek is a strong resource to spark conversations and action in your town to address the need to build bridges between different groups in the community; actively respond to hate and intolerance; and engage youth in building safe, inclusive communities. A community screening and discussion of the film can serve as a way to initiate – and sustain – interfaith collaborations and vital local work on these urgent issues.

Through Not In Our Town’s partnership with the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, free DVDs of Waking in Oak Creek are available for community screenings, educational programs, and training workshops. Additional resources include a Guide for Community Screenings, an Educator Lesson Plan, and outreach tools.

Watch the film trailer, request a free DVD, and download valuable resources here.

Not In Our Town (NIOT) is a movement to stop hate, address bullying, and build safe, inclusive communities for all. Learn more at www.NIOT.org.

January 30th, 2015 at 9:54 am

Gandhi and His Message | Arun Gandhi on the Anniversary of His Grandfather’s Assassination

Dr. Arun Gandhi

Weeks before his assassination, a journalist asked the great Indian leader and champion of non-violence, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi what would happen to his philosophy of nonviolence after his death. His reply was both prophetic and poignant. He said: “The people of India will follow me in life, worship me in death, but not make my cause their cause.”

These words could have been uttered by any of the people we worship today. Gandhi’s cause was simple: Bring peace through religious, ethnic and cultural harmony among the people of the world. Our emphasis on nationalism and patriotism, narrowing people’s perspectives to a small geographical area, was repugnant to Gandhi. In fact, he said, the acceptance of the interconnectedness and inter-relatedness of all beings is what will save this world from strife and destruction. No country, however rich and powerful, can be safe if the rest of the world destroys itself. The security and stability of any country, he believed, depends on the security and stability of the whole world.

What we are doing today is just the opposite. We are not only torn apart as nations but even in our belief in God and spirituality. The world is witnessing violent chaos. People killing each other in the name of God although God and religion are about love, respect, compassion, understanding and acceptance. If the world does not appear to have accepted Gandhi’s message of nonviolence and a life of harmony, neither has his own country of birth and dedication – India.

Not even his own Congress Party believed in or accepted his philosophy and way of life although this party has ruled over India for almost 60 years after independence in 1947. The Congress Party paid lip-service to Gandhi, printed his image on all currency notes and observed his birth and death anniversaries. Beyond that Gandhi’s legacy gathered dust on the shelves. If India could not give the lead to the world in sane living can one expect other nations to follow Gandhi’s ideology?

I believe Gandhi was a universal personality and his philosophy should appeal to anyone who believes in civilized behavior. After all he did influence many leaders in different countries! The tragedy is that everyone sees his philosophy of nonviolence as a strategy of convenience and not as a way of life. The consequence is that individually and collectively as nations we subscribe to a Culture of Violence that dominates every aspect of our lives. Nonviolence is selectively used as just another weapon of convenience.

Peace has, consequently, come to mean the absence of war and that if we are not fighting physically we are nonviolent. We do indulge, however, in passive (or non-physical) violence like exploitation, oppression of all kinds, wasting resources, encouraging disparities, and the countless other ways in which we hurt people emotionally, spiritually and psychologically. It is this passive violence that generates anger in the victim and ultimately results in physical violence. It is the fuel that ignites war and violence.

India is now at the crossroads. The extreme right-wing Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its multiple off-shoots have come into power. Their genesis is in the Hindu supremacist and militant RSS organization, that was responsible for the assassination of Gandhi. Since the assassination of Gandhi in 1948 the Hindu right wing claimed they had nothing to do with the conspiracy and that it was all engineered by Nathuram Godse, his brother Gopal and a few friends. The reality is that Godse was a member of the RSS, and withdrew himself from membership only to protect other RSS functionaries, during his trial.

With the sweeping majority that the Hindu Right wing now enjoys in the Indian Parliament their Members of Parliament have been emboldened to demand that Godse be considered a hero of the Indian revolution, that the killing of Gandhi was an act of patriotism and that Gandhi’s image be removed from the currency notes. To me this sounds like tacit admission that they were morally responsible for empowering Nathuram Godse to carry out the assassination plot, just as the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, is morally responsible for the slaughter of more than 2,000 Muslims in the State of Gujarat in 2002 when he was the Chief Minister, the equivalent of a US Governor. The slaughter was the result of police inaction and the Government’s lack of intention to call in Federal troops. Either Mr. Modi wanted the slaughter to take place or he was a weak leader incapable of controlling the government and the bureaucracy. Most people believe it is the former and not the latter

The Hindu nationalists, like bigoted people anywhere, are adept at speaking from both sides of their mouths. This includes the Prime Minister, Mr. Modi, who has almost overnight become America’s wunderkind. The BJP and its numerous allies firmly believe in the Nazi theory that a lie repeated often enough will eventually be accepted as truth. Unless the people of India come together against hate, intolerance and fascism, lies, deceit and corruption could be India’s fate in the foreseeable future.

ABOUT DR. ARUN GANDHI

Dr. Arun Manilal Gandhi

Born 1934 in Durban South Africa, Arun was sent by his parents to India when he was 12 years old so that he could live with and learn from his grandfather, Mohandas Gandhi. It was then that young Gandhi learned the principles of non-violence that he continues to espouse until today. Dr. Gandhi spent much of his adult life in India working as a journalist and promoting social and economic changes for the poor and the oppressed classes. Along with his wife Sunanda he rescued about 128 orphaned and abandoned children from the streets and placed them in loving homes around the world. They also began a Center for Social Change which transformed the lives of millions in villages in the western state of Maharashtra. In 1987 Arun came to the United States and in 1991 he started the M. K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence at the Christian Brothers University in Memphis, Tennessee. In 2007, the Institute was moved to the University of Rochester, New York. In 2008 Arun resigned from the Institute to begin the Gandhi Worldwide Education Institute, with its mission to build basic education schools for the very poor children of the world. The first school will open shortly in a depressed village in western India (www.gandhiforchildren.org). Arun Gandhi has taken the message of nonviolence and peace-making to hundreds of thousands of high school and university youth around the United States and much of the Western world. His publications include The Legacy of Love; The Forgotten Woman: The Life of Kastur, wife of Gandhi, and several others.

January 29th, 2015 at 5:56 pm

Blasphemy and Freedom

Image: Antoine Walker/ Flickr

The Charlie Hebdo incident: we cannot not sight it and refrain from all comment. It would be redundant to revisit here the obvious aspects of the incident.
Thus, obviously, the murderers at the office of the French satirical magazine were simply evil.

Obviously, the killers were motivated by their obsession with their version of Islam to do the evil act.

Obviously, haters of Islam could be counted on immediately to call for hateful counter-action. They did not disappoint.

Obviously, obsessive critics could be expected to trace all the evils to “their” holy book and to discount descriptions of and calls for holy wars in other people’s holy books. What was expected has occurred.

Obviously, anyone who spoke up for patience, tolerance, understanding, and positive responses to the evil had to be ready to be dismissed as vapid, naïve, and blind excusers of evil.

Five “obviouslys” should suffice. Some other voices revealed how difficult it is to go beyond the obvious, but they tried. The most interesting of these were those who addressed some rationales and motives of the killers and their spiritual kin. Thus Bill Donahue of the Catholic League issued a release captioned, “Muslims Are Right to Be Angry.”  To the point: “We,” he wrote, should not “tolerate the kind of intolerance that provoked the violent reaction.” Donahue was predictable, but one can understand his emotional response.

“Charlie Hebdo” wanted to taunt and outrage believers in other faiths than Islam, notably Judaism and Catholicism, both of which have their own defense leagues. You don’t have to be a Catholic or to be offended by the paper’s cartoons picturing nuns masturbating or popes wearing condoms.

Rabbi David Lerner of Tikkun took a different tack: the incident should remind “us” in the West of other kinds of dehumanizing in our media. Alas, “we tolerate the kind of endless put-downs that the ‘humor’ magazines and even supposedly liberal comedians like Bill Maher perpetrate, not realizing how much damage all of this does to our souls.”

Becoming concerned with evils that do “damage to our souls” might be one positive response to come out of the crisis in which we measure “their” evils against ours. Anyone who reads “Comment-section” responses to internet coverage of this topic will encounter myriad vengeful, hateful, also-blasphemous verbal swings at reverent citizens minding their own business. Some who comment do express proper gratitude for the non-lethal or, at least, less lethal expressions, and credit Western democracy for providing us with forums which protect blasphemers.

The moment calls for new appreciation for those polities we enjoy which have encouraged inter-group civility, threatened though that may be in these days of hyper-polarization. But people in our citing and commenting vocations can also use the moment to recalibrate our measures of outrage.

In 1988 when we were chartered to begin a multi-volume, multi-year, multi-religious study of fundamentalisms, a historian of the domestic versions of such helpfully reminded us editors that, as we study militant and belligerent religious movements and forces, we should remember that “there are no guns or bombs stored in the basement of Moody Bible Institute.”

The MBI, a stronghold of latter-day American now-moderating fundamentalisms, is visible from my windows. I never feel threatened and do feel welcomed. “We” cannot solve all the problems at the core of the present tragedy, but those who ask us to begin at home to promote understanding do serve the cause. They may sound weak. They are strong.

Author, Martin E. Marty, is the Fairfax M. Cone Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of the History of Modern Christianity at the University of Chicago Divinity School. His biography, publications, and contact information can be found at  www.memarty.com.

Resources:

Donohue, Bill. “Muslims Are Right To Be Angry.” Catholic League For Religious and Civil Rights, January 7, 2015, 2015 News Releases. http://www.catholicleague.org/muslims-right-angry/.

Ohlheiser, Abby. “#JeSuisCharlie: Cartoonists react to the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris.” Washington Post, January 7, 2015, Comic Riffs. http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/comic-riffs/wp/2015/01/07/cartoonists-react-to-charlie-hebdo-massacre-in-paris/?wpisrc=nl_pdmwk&wpmm=1.

Lerner, Michael. “Mourning the Parisian Journalists Yet Noticing the Hypocrisy.” Tikkun, January 9, 2015. http://www.tikkun.org/tikkundaily/2015/01/09/mourning-the-parisian-humorists-yet-challenging-the-hypocrisy-of-western-media/.

Cole, Teju. “Unmournable Bodies.” New Yorker, January 9, 2015, Culture. http://www.newyorker.com/culture/cultural-comment/unmournable-bodies.

Saffa, Ozzie. “‘Dangerous Moment’ for Europe, as Fear and Resentment Grow.” Ozzie Saffa Blog, January 8, 2015. http://ozziesaffa.blogspot.com/2015/01/dangerous-moment-for-europe-as-fear-and.html.

Schuessler, Jennifer. “Charlie Hebdo Attack Chills Satirists and Prompts a Debate.” New York Times, January 9, 2015, Arts. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/10/arts/an-attack-chills-satirists-and-prompts-debate.html?_r=1.

Kristof, Nicholas. “Is Islam to Blame for the Shooting at Charlie Hebdo in Paris?” New York Times, January 7, 2015, Opinion Pages. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/08/opinion/nicholas-kristof-lessons-from-the-charlie-hebdo-shooting-in-paris.html.

Krule, Miriam. “Charlie Hebdo’s Most Controversial Religious Covers, Explained.” Slate. Accessed January 11, 2015.

Calamur, Krishnadev. “‘Charlie Hebdo,’ A Magazine of Satire, Mocks Politics, Religion.” NPR, January 7, 2015, International. http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2015/01/07/375599183/charlie-hebdo-a-magazine-of-satire-mocks-politics-religion.

“Paris attacks: Millions rally for unity in France.” BBC News, January 11, 2015, Europe. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-30765824.

Alderman, Liz. “Huge Show of Solidarity Against Terrorism in Paris.” New York Times, January 11, 2015, Europe. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/12/world/europe/paris-march-against-terror-charlie-hebdo.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=a-lede-package-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news.

Martin, Marty E. and R. Scott Appleby, eds. The Fundamentalism Project. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1994-2004. http://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/series/FP.html.

Image: Antoine Walter / flickr creative commons.

To read previous issues of Sightings, visit http://divinity.uchicago.edu/sightings-archive.

January 13th, 2015 at 12:44 pm

Parliament Board Condemns Violence in France and Nigeria; Invites All Faith Communities to Issue Joint Statement

“The Parliament of the World’s Religions vehemently condemns revengeful attacks killing 12 journalists and four Jews in France, and an estimated 1500 women and children in Nigeria. Now this cycle of revenge has engulfed the French Muslims with more than 20 attacks on Islamic buildings. We send our condolences to the families of the victims and to all of France and Nigeria as they grieve.

The Parliament believes that use of religion or any other socio-political ideology to “justify” violence is simply not acceptable.

The Parliament urges the global community to remember that such acts violate the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad and asks that faith communities stand together to break this cycle of revenge by speaking out and organizing programs which enhance positive human relationship of compassion and forgiveness.

The Parliament plans to organize special programing in the forthcoming 2015 Parliament in October 15-19th on the cycle of war, violence, and hate. We invite all faith communities to participate in a joint declaration with a clear resolve to do our utmost  to develop a movement against war, violence and hate.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.”

The French Interfaith Youth Movement Stands Up For All

Via The National Office of L’Association Coexister/The Coexist Association/Interfaith Tour: 

“After the attack to the Paris office of the French Magazine Charlie Hebdo, Coexist interfaith youth movement, wishes to express its shock, fear and sadness at such an act of barbarism. We are deeply affected by what has happened.

This odious act affects not only journalists, police officers, their families and friends to whom we offer our condolences. It affects our national community. It undermines social cohesion of our country, our citizenship, France. Freedom of the press and opinion are part of the foundations of our democracy. And this freedom is not negotiable.

We seek to promote respect for all, all faiths, all convictions. We also defend the right to criticism, caricature and derision. Freedom is a precious asset is our common heritage.

Extremism, wherever it comes from, must be fought and put out of harm’s way. Against all fundamentalism, against fanaticism that disfigure the image of the communities they claim to represent. It is urgent to work for national unity. The intolerance must be fought, ignorance defeated.

“They wanted to put France on her knees, instead let us send them a message. We are here in solidarity and united. The goal of terrorists is to divide a population that is the victim. Panic, division, or denouncing a culprit in our national community would prove them right. ” said Samuel Grzybowski, Chairman of Coexist

It is time for the Republic to emerge.

For freedom of expression, brotherhood among citizens. ”

 

 

Avenging the Prophet Who Banned Revenges

By Abdul Malik Mujahid

Chair of the Board of Trustees, Parliament of the World’s Religions

“We have avenged the Prophet Mohammad,” the gunmen shouted after killing 12 at the French magazine Charlie Hebdo, yesterday. The publication is known for lampooning the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him.

Well. The Prophet banned revenge as he built his peace sanctuary in seventh-century Madinah, establishing instead the rule of law.

He never killed anyone. Only, after God’s command to defend his peace sanctuary, under attack by the non-Muslims of Makkah, did he picked up arms. These defensive battles lasted a total of six days in his life and the number of dead from both sides was less than 300.

Peace was his goal, which he achieved by developing alliances between Madinah’s non-Muslims, Jews, and Christians.

Violent extremists who accuse others of disrespect, then consider this a license to kill have nothing to do with the Islam taught by the Prophet they claim to be avenging. They have nothing to do with the message of forgiveness and mercy which Allah revealed to the Prophet; nothing to do with the law and order the Prophet established and upheld, which led to him being considered one of the world’s greatest lawgivers by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Muslim love for Prophet Muhammad is unquestionable. God’s peace and blessings be upon him. It does hurt us when people are abusive towards the Prophet.

It is, however, the ignorant, who do not know the loving path of mercy and forgiveness taught by the Prophet; they are turning into violent extremists and committing crimes in his name.

This is not love. This is hate.

The Prophet would be horrified at what is being done in his name to avenge disrespect to his honor.

The non-Muslims of Makkah tortured the Prophet and his followers. He did not retaliate. He preferred to move away, first encouraging migration to Abyssinia, which was ruled by what he described as a “just king”, who was a Christian, Najashi or Negus.

When some tribes agreed, he established the peace sanctuary in Madinah via constitution and consensus. He built a society that promoted inclusiveness, freedom, rule of law, and peace.

Respect for other faiths was a key element of Madinah society. Muslims, are by Scripture and Prophetic practice, ordered to accept God’s revealed books, as well as His Prophets and Messengers. We are also ordered to never insult the cherished beliefs of others, for humor or in retaliatory anger. This is why even today, throughout the Muslim world, you will not find newspapers being disrespectful of other religions. The terrorists are not the norm. They are the exception.

Muslims in France, America, and around the world are sick of terrorists perpetuating violence that is a violation of their faith in their name. We are against war and hate. We are also tired of the abuse of freedom of speech to spew hatred, mistrust, fear, and misunderstanding.

War, terrorism, and Islamophobia are a nexus, connected to each other and condemnable. They feed off of each other, perpetuating violence and fear. We Muslims condemn terrorism, war as well as hate. We must strive against them all.

——-

Being just in the love of the Prophet

We need to understand this abuse of the Prophet for what it is: a form of psychological violence intended to hurt and harm. Our response when we encounter such attacks must be to seek God’s forgiveness and respond with what is better: prayers on the Prophet and Duas for him.

The Prophet and the people who opposed him

Our Prophet was a mercy to all human beings, regardless of their religious, racial, cultural or ethnic background. We, as his followers, must live and spread this message today at a time when hatefulness and ugliness towards each other has become the norm.

Please stop abusing the Prophet

It is abusive to partially quote the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, thus distorting what he said.

 

Prophet's Mosque in Madinah

Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah

Announcing 2015 Parliament Program Proposal Deadline Extension

DEADLINE EXTENDED!

Now Accepting 2015 Parliament Program Proposals through March 15!

The most instrumental aspect of building the next Parliament is all in the program. So the Parliament is extending the proposal submission deadline until March 15 to open this opportunity to the ever-widening world of interfaith activists. In special consideration for the critical constituencies of women, indigenous, and emerging leaders:

“The Executive Committee [of the Parliament Board] unanimously approved extending the program proposal submission deadline from January 15 to March 15th and final confirmation of the program acceptance to May 1, 2015 from the current deadline of April 1.”

Let us think outside the box on ways the interfaith movement can commit together to advance action on the challenges of our climate, global violence, and economic disparities!

Submit a program today >

And the backbone of the interfaith movement! The Parliament will feature its staple interfaith programs which will:

  • Tell others about your faith
  • Share about your relationship with those of other faiths
  • Show us how you observe your faith
  • Explain how the interfaith movement works in your locale

You are also encouraged to propose programs which make use of creative mediums to explore the 2015 Parliament theme: Reclaiming the Heart of Our Humanity! Working Together for a World of Compassion with Peace, Justice, and Sustainability

Why We Can’t Breathe

Why the Cries of Eric Gardner Have Spawned a National Movement

By: Rev. Dr. Marshall E. Hatch
New Mount Pilgrim Baptist Church of Chicago
The Leader’s Network, Board Chairman

The cries of Eric Gardner have arrested our national consciousness. Before his death, most of Gardner’s brushes with law enforcement revolved around the selling of loose cigarettes; a poor man’s hustle if there ever was one. Gardner’s last deadly arrest, captured on video, happens as he appears to be innocent of his usual petty crime. Breaking up a fight between two locals, Gardner is harassed by police called to the scene. He appears to plead with the police. Not guilty. Not today. Taken down by the police, he can’t breathe. Death.

The lack of a simple indictment from a Staten Island grand jury in Gardner’s death, even with a recording of the police overkill, has captured the uneasy spirit of our times. How can we explain nation-wide reaction of outrage across racial and cultural barriers? Gardner’s eleven cries, “I can’t breathe”, have fueled a national movement beyond a local case of New York police abuse. The tragic fates of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Gardner, and others have been stitched together in a national dialogue about police brutality, unjust justice, and devalued black life. But it is Gardner’s public plea to breathe that has spurred widespread discontent.

The national grass-roots protests are so obviously disproportionate to Gardner’s singular tragedy. We have a full-blown national “I can’t breathe” protest movement that has no identifiable national leaders, nor a specific national legislative agenda. It’s as if the nation can’t breathe because the viral video of poor Gardner being overtaken by a gang of police reflects a national sense of imbalance. A restless nation, with its ideals and the stifling realities of average citizens so disconnected, struggles to find its’ bearings and catch its’ breath.

The Gardner protest movement has racial overtones, but its’ meaning has moved well beyond mere racial paradigms. These organic multiracial responses to Gardner’s video taped demise points to an American post-racial future, led by young people who have already outgrown America’s race based institutional hypocrisies and who are filled with anxieties about the quality of the nation and world they will inherit. Gardner’s breathing difficulties have become metaphor for our national exasperation. The “can’t breathe” movement points to several potentially explosive issues of our national discontent in the twenty-first century.

One, there is the ever widening disparity between the super wealthy class and the rest of us. The outcomes of unregulated capitalism in the twenty-first century are severely out of balance. That no persons from the Wall Street elite have been held accountable for the 2008 tanking of American economy is a source of simmering maladjustment. The banks too big to fail have become even bigger. The housing market crashed from predatory lending schemes, banks were bailed out, while homeowners and their families were left drowning in the Great Recession. Without upward mobility, class systems become caste systems. The very poor are also left adrift as social services are cut by broke local governments. Lean municipal and state governments cover budget shortfalls by squeezing fragile urban families with fines, fees, and covert revenue schemes.

Two, the outsized role of money in American politics means that the actual power of government is far removed from the common citizen. The Supreme Court “Citizens United” decision made a bad situation worse. The “pay to play” corruption of American politics is at an all time high, while voter interest and participation are at new lows. At a time of widening wealth disparity, personal wealth directly translates into pubic office, and political influence and access. Intuitively average Americans know that voting may only serve to legitimate an increasingly illegitimate government for and by the super rich. Increasingly they engage in the passive protest of non-participation. Increasing taxation without representative government is a recipe for growing social instability.

Three, the burgeoning burdens of student loan debt tells young Americans all they need to know about the bankruptcy of our national values and shortsightedness of our national vision. For too many young people, college bound means student loan bondage. The dream higher education as the ladder to generational upward mobility has become a nightmare of indentured servitude, as graduates are released into a weak job market with twenty years of debt to repay for college. Student loan debt now outpaces credit card debt. Hopes of pursuing lives of meaningful contribution and purpose are drying up like “raisins in the sun”. No wonder young people feel to need to embrace Gardner’s cries as the mantra of a national movement. They can’t breathe.

Even our most progressive leaders feel stuck between the budget constraints of pensions liabilities for retirees and education for our young. The creative energies of the occupy movements of 2011, used so skillfully by the Obama reelection campaign of 2012, have now morphed into a national organic campaign against imbalances of power between the citizen and the illegitimate law enforcements of the corporate state. The current movement begs for critical analysis to give context and direction for its’ dynamic, spiritual energies.

Where can we go from here? We need organizations and patrons who can help develop local and national legislative and economic development agendas that de-concentrate capital, wealth, and social power. We need post racial leaders, across the ideological spectrum, that are committed to leading our nations institutions beyond the quagmires of institutional racism. With reform immigration polices, and with the demographic changes in America’s immediate future, we need to re-energize the Republic and reimagine dispersed, democratic capitalism. We need radical election reform to check to outsized influence of money in politics. We desperately need selfless leaders with long term vision for our peoples and our environment. In the long term, soulless global corporatism hinders human flourishing and human survival.

Over fifty years ago, Martin Luther King, Jr., raised and answered the question of racial justice, “why we can’t wait”. “Why we can’t breathe”, is a question just as urgent in our times. In broad terms, the cry in this season is a call for democratized capital and the freedom of upward mobility. Social movements often come to us spontaneously by spiritual stirring, led by the young with ideals and daring. But movements become fruitful by intentional, sustained pursuit of well defined public policies that reimagine and renegotiate the social contact. America needs a breathe of fresh air and a new moral vision where all people matter. This generation is proving once again that the spirit of breathing collective human hope cannot be stopped.

To Understand #BlackLivesMatter,Take the Racial Wealth Gap Into Account

 

Via Parliament Vice-Chair Rev. Dr. Larry Greenfield in response to data released by Pew quantifying the racial wealth gap in the United States: 

“Black Lives Matter” can have more than one meaning. We know the meaning, because of recent events, as it relates to life and death. But an article in the Chicago Tribune on Sunday (12/14//14) reveals another meaning–or should. It’s about the “expanding racial wealth gap” since the Great Recession. Virtually everybody experienced an erosion of wealth at that time (nearly 40% for the “typical American” between 2007 and 2010). But during the recovery it is a different story. For whites wealth leveled off between 2010-2013, but for blacks and Hispanics there was continued decline. “Now whites have 13 dollars for every dollar held by African-Americans” and it’s 10-1 for Hispanics. “For blacks, the decline between 2010 and 2013 was precipitous–more than 33 percent” (median income dropped 9 percent for minorities during that period). Why? Higher rates of unemployment for minorities than for whites. Also, whites tend to be more invested in the stock market, which has soared during this period. And then there is the value of homes: it fell by 4.6 percent for whites, 18.4 percent for African American households. We have to ask ourselves as a country whether this kind of disparity reflects the value we attach to not just life but the quality of life as reflected in economic well-being. And if we find that this is true and unacceptable, then we have to ask how we can change not just the dollars but also the values.

Click here to read the Pew Research Center’s Study on the Racial Wealth Gap

About Rev. Dr.  Larry Greenfield, Vice-Chair of the Board, Parliament of the World’s Religions:

Larry Greenfield is the executive minister of the American Baptist Churches of Metro Chicago, a regional judicatory of the American Baptist Churches U.S.A, and the theologian-in-residence for the Community Renewal Society, a progressive, faith-based organization in Chicago that works to eliminate race and class barriers and advocates for social and economic justice. Born and raised in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, he received his B.A. degree from Sioux Falls College. He received his B.D., M.A., and Ph.D. (in theology) from the University of Chicago Divinity School, where he subsequently taught and served as dean of students. Later he served as president of Colgate Rochester Divinity School/Bexley Hall/Crozer Theological Seminary in Rochester, New York, where he also brought the Roman Catholic St. Bernard’s Institute to the campus. He served as vice president for research at the Park Ridge Center for the Study of Health, Faith, and Ethics in Chicago, where his own research, funded by foundation grants, focused on multi-faith understandings of sexuality, science, and civil discourse. He has served pastorates and campus ministries in Chicago and Ann Arbor. He is also the co-founder (and currently chairperson of the board of directors) of the Religious Institute on Sexual Morality, Justice, and Healing. His continuing concentration on religion and justice receives expression in his bi-weekly essays (published locally and nationally) entitled “Thinking Theologically about the Common Good.” He is an ordained clergyperson in the American Baptist Churches U.S.A. He is the past president of the American Theological Society/Midwest. He serves on the boards of numerous ecumenical and interfaith organizations and chairs the board of trustees of the Baptist Theological Union at the University of Chicago Divinity School.

2015 Parliament Women’s Initiative Holds Its First Meeting In Salt Lake

from Phyllis Curott, Vice-Chair elect, and Women’s Task Force Chair
With contributions from Susan Soleil

Just a few days after the Parliament announced the Inaugural Women’s Assembly for Global Advancement and Program Initiative at the 2015 Salt Lake City Parliament, the Women’s Task Force held its first, successful Pre-Parliament event. On December 12th in Salt Lake City, 60 women of diverse ages, ethnicities, races, and religions gathered at St. Marks Episcopal Church to learn about the Parliament and the Women’s Initiative. Women brought family, friends, and colleagues to the event which was organized by SLC Interfaith Roundtable Co-Chair Susan Soleil and Prof. Jan Saeed. Executive Director Mary Nelson shared a brief history of the Parliament and Phyllis Curott shared the the programming goals of the Women’s Initiative and the Assembly’s theme: the interplay of religion, women’s dignity, and human rights. She also invited everyone to submit proposals, participate in local planning and implementation, and to continue to meet in both large and small groups for ongoing interfaith conversations.

See pictures of the Women’s Initiative Gathering in Salt Lake on Facebook!

With help from PWR volunteers Kay Lindahl and Kathe Schaaf, women shared stories of their journeys and explored the meaning of faith and spirituality. They discussed what it means to respect different beliefs while finding common ground on issues that concern all of us as women, sisters, mothers, daughters, grandmothers, aunties, and wives.

Participants shared ideas, suggestions, and ambitions for the Women’s Initiative, and volunteers signed up to help with various aspects of the Initiative and the 2015 Parliament. Everyone looks forward to future meetings in the New Year.

Those interested in volunteering for the Women’s Initiative should contact:
To submit a program the Women’s Initiative, click here >

 

GLOBAL SISTERS FUND

With the end of the year approaching, we hope you’ll help us expand women’s participation at the Parliament with a gift to the Global Sisters fund today. Click here >

Your contribution to this important fundraising campaign will help assure women’s participation at the Parliament of the World’s Religions and the Inaugural Women’s Assembly and Program Initiative in Salt Lake City, Oct. 15-19, 2015. Click here >

We are deeply committed to welcoming a diverse community of women and seek to fund the participation of women who are frequently under-represented in important conversations about women’s dignity, human rights, religion, spirituality, and global issues:

  • Elder (ages 60 and over) and young women (ages 16-35)
  • Indigenous and First Nations women
  • Low income women
  • Spiritually, ethnically and culturally diverse women
  • International women, especially those leading innovative and effective programs
  • Women whose program proposals have been accepted and who require financial aid to attend

We need your help. Your tax-deductible donation will assure that a dynamic community of international, interfaith, and intergenerational women converges in Salt Lake City. Help assure that women’s voices are heard from the global platform of the Parliament of the World’s Religions and across the globe.