Archive for the ‘CPWR’ Category
Inviting Grassroots Interfaith Organizations to Grow with the Parliament
Let’s Strengthen Our Movement Together.
The Parliament of the World’s Religions will be awarding several grants to interfaith organizations in the United States, ranging from USD $5,000 to $30,000 on a competitive basis.
Priority will be given to initiatives seeking to expand their communication reach and connecting with guiding institutions (media, government, etc.), as well as initiatives seeking to counter hate and prejudice while fostering empathy and compassion.
Awards will be announced after July 1, 2015.
Apply by June 20 to stake your claim in funding your grassroots interfaith movement!
The Parliament of the World’s Religions Awards Three of Burma’s Leading Monks at Norway’s Nobel Institute
Three Buddhist monks returned home to Burma last week from the Nobel Institute with World Harmony Awards, presented by the Parliament of the World’s Religions.
Former Prime Minister of Norway Kjell Magne Bondevik of the Christian Democratic Party joined Imam Malik Mujahid, Chair of the Parliament of the World’s Religions, in awarding the monks at the opening of the Oslo Conference to Stop the Systematic Persecution of Burma’s Rohingya.
“These extraordinary monks challenge the widespread perception that all Buddhist monks clamor for violence against the Rohingyas,” Mujahid said presenting the awards to His Holiness Rev. Seindita, His Holiness Rev. Withudda, and His Holiness Rev. Zawtikka.
The World Harmony Awards recognized acts of “fostering compassion, kindness, and harmony among faith communities in Myanmar,” where more than one thousand Rohingya Muslims survived violence by being protected inside of Buddhist monasteries.
Rev. Seindita proclaimed, “they will have to kill me first,” before allowing aggressors to harm the Rohingya masses.
In his remarks, Mujahid said that the three honorees personify the Golden Rule- describing it as both the maxim of the interfaith movement, and also the beacon of all peace and justice movements.
“The Buddha proclaimed that we must love and care for all creatures. The Prophet Mohammad, peace be upon him, said that none of you are truly believers unless you wish for another what you wish for yourself. These teachings are at the heart of all our faiths, where the beauty of religion is rooted.”
He continued, “While fear, anger and hate rises in America and communities around the world, people of compassion are rising to demonstrate neighborly loving relationships. We must become our brother’s keeper.”
The Parliament was a co-sponsor of the meetings held at the prestigious Norwegian Nobel Institute and Voksenaasen Conference Center in Oslo, Norway.
Participants from 16 different countries, including Rohingya activists, Buddhist monks, Christian clergy, and Muslim leaders from Myanmar converged with genocide scholars to adopt a statement pressing for immediate international action.
The two-day conference concluded with an additional call to action from seven Nobel Peace Laureates, describing the plight of the Rohingya as nothing less than a genocide.
The Parliament plans to further highlight the bravery of interfaith activists challenging genocide in the region in a plenary focusing on war, violence and hate speech at the 2015 Parliament this October in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Background information on the conference: The conference was co-organized and co-sponsored by the following organizations. However, the communiqué was adopted by the attendees of the conference without any approach to the respective organizations.
Justice for All, Burma Task Force USA; Parliament of the World’s Religions; Refugees International (USA); International State Crime Initiative (ISCI) Queen Mary University of London; Harvard Global Equality Initiative (HGEI); Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI).
Imam Malik Mujahid, Chair of the Parliament of the World’s Religions served as Co-Chair
Links to transcripts and images
The Oslo Conference statement can be accessed by visiting BurmaMuslims.org.
Link to the official transcripts of the recorded messages including that of Archbishop Tutu and George Soros
Link to their video recordings
Links to some of the news coverage:
PARLIAMENT STATEMENT ON THE ETERNAL WORLD TELEVISION NETWORK’S
ATTACK ON POPE FRANCIS FOR HIS UPCOMING ENCYCLICAL ON CLIMATE
The recent attack on Pope Francis’s integrity and credibility regarding climate change and integral ecology during a recent broadcast on the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) is deeply disturbing. The Pope’s imminent encyclical on climate change and integral ecology, from all indications, will be rooted in fundamental Catholic understandings about creation that go back for centuries. In addition, he has consulted with a wide array of scientific and moral experts through the Pontifical Academies of Science and Social Sciences. The charge that he is being “duped” on the issue of climate change is entirely without foundation.
As an interreligious organization the Parliament does not involve itself in the internal affairs of particular religious and spiritual communities. But we are convinced that the climate change issue transcends particularistic religious boundaries and we see Pope Francis as serving all humanity and the entirety of creation through this forthcoming encyclical. Hence we stand with Pope Francis in his global effort on climate change.
Parliament Indigenous Task Force Chair to Lead Alberta, Canada Aboriginal Committee for New Government
The Parliament congratulates Board Trustee Lewis Cardinal on his appointment to Chair the Aboriginal Committee for the Provincial government of Alberta, Canada following a victorious election of the NDP party.
Cardinal tells the Parliament he is “so excited to help bring the ideas and strengths of the indigenous peoples of Alberta together more prominently into government.”
Advocating for the rights of First Nations in Edmonton, CA and beyond has long been Cardinal’s passion both professionally and at the Parliament, where he is currently chairing the 2015 Parliament Indigenous Task Force.
Predicting a rise in aborginal voter turnout across Canada, Cardinal shared his insight with the Edmonton Journal before the election that tapping into the concerns of indigenous peoples common to Canada’s general public would be a main driver for an increase in aboriginal voters visiting the polls. Further, more aboriginal names on the ballot helped inspire a greater interest.
The Parliament is encouraged that greater opportunity for aboriginal communities is increasing not just within the political system, but within civil society as well.
Lewis Cardinal has spent most of his professional life in public service. As a communicator and educator, he has dedicated his work to creating and maintaining connections and relationships that cross cultural divides. His long track record of public service includes his involvement with many, many, Human Rights and Social Advocacy Boards. Lewis is also the owner of Cardinal Strategic Communications, a consulting company that specializes in Education, Governance, and Communications. He recently received Canada’s highest Aboriginal recognition award the National Aboriginal Achievement Award for Public Service, as well as receiving the Distinguished Alumni Award from Grant Mac Ewan University, the Anti-Racism Award from the Centre for Race and Culture, and the Alberta Centennial Medal for his work in Human Rights and Diversity.
The Parliament welcomes Crystal McCormick in 2015 to the Board of Trustees. Crystal brings a wealth of information and experience through her background as a pastor in various denominations as well as through her role as a university professor. In this interview with the Parliament communications intern Shani Belshaw she shares her thoughts on the importance of understanding and developing relationships through interfaith dialogue and on the role of women amplifying their voices in religious contexts.
Parliament of the World’s Religions: What has inspired you to be a part of the interfaith movement?
Crystal McCormick: My spiritual journey includes a time (a long time ago!) when I was what I would call a “Christian fundamentalist;” it was in that context that I was taught and internalized a lot of negative and horrible lies and distortions about people of faith traditions outside of Christianity and about people who are atheist. It was the academic study of religions and more importantly, by engagement with people of faith traditions outside of my own that caused those false ideas and distortions to unravel. I began to see the sheer beauty in the many expressions of religion and the fact that many atheists were so very concerned with harmony and human rights and were far kinder than many religious people I had come in contact with; all of these realizations and all of the transition in my religious worldview fostered in me a love for all religions and a commitment to build bridges between people of different religious expressions.
PWR: One of the focused constituencies of the 2015 parliament is “women”. Why do you think this is an important focus for the 2015 Parliament?
CM: The undeniable fact is that in the overwhelming majority of the world’s religious traditions, women have been silenced, marginalized, and oppressed, and continue to be so, this is true regardless of which religious tradition or which continent one looks at. Therefore, focusing on women and paying close attention to the voices of women is both crucial and beneficial; the world of interreligious dialogue must focus on women, women’s right’s and issues, and on women’s voices in order to undo the silencing that the world has done and continues to do to women. Additionally, women – though silenced by their traditions – have often been the most courageous and proactive in practicing sincere peace building, our voices are paramount; though our greatest task as women is to recognize our own privilege, helping create spaces for women around the globe whose voices have been silenced because of poverty and a gross imbalance of power and privilege.
PWR: What is one thing you hope your students gain from your teaching?
CM: When teaching, I hope my students feel empowered – empowered in recognizing their strengths and abilities, including making their own informed decisions. I try to reiterate to my students that I do not hope to impose a particular position or worldview on them, but that I would like for them to soak in the material we are engaging, to challenge it and to allow themselves to be challenged by it so that they might in turn come to conclusions which are informed and carefully thought out.
PWR: Why do you think inter-religious dialogue is so important?
CM: Perhaps it is the pastor in me speaking, but relationship is key in building bridges of peace and understanding, and religions at their best know that though there are rich and beautiful differences among them, that service to humanity is an undeniable commonality. Thus, inter-religious dialogue is vital and so important in order to build bridges of peace across the globe and to address the societal ills that plague our communities. Additionally, we find ourselves at a time and place where the world is terrified by a group like ISIS and thus feeds the already present Islamophobia rampant particularly in American and European cultures. Interreligious dialogue can help dispel the Islamophobia and to show our Muslim neighbors that they have allies in the interreligious world.
PWR: What more you would like to share about yourself?
CM: I am an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, serving a congregation in the Presbyterian Church (USA), doing doctoral work at a Lutheran School (LSTC) because of their commitment to interfaith dialogue, particularly Muslim-Christian dialogue.
Crystal Silva-McCormick is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ and currently serves as Associate Pastor at St. Andrews Presbyterian in Austin, Texas. She is a doctoral student in Interfaith Relations at the LSTC. Crystal is a scholar with the Hispanic Theological Initiative; a program designed to nurture and advance the work of Latina/o scholars in the field of religion. Crystal has taught in the university setting in the areas of Women’s Studies and Religious studies. She has worked with people of various religious backgrounds in order to foster interreligious dialogue and service and has worked for advocacy for immigrant and immigration reform. Crystal’s work within and outside the academy focuses on building bridges across race and religion and advocacy for women and women’s rights.
Announcing the Inaugural Women’s Assembly for Global Advancement and Program Initiative at 2015 Parliament
The Parliament Proudly Announces the
INAUGURAL WOMEN’S ASSEMBLY FOR GLOBAL ADVANCEMENT
You asked, we listened.
The Women’s Task Force of the Parliament of the World’s Religions invites YOU to the Inaugural Assembly for Women’s Global Advancement, Oct. 15 and Program Initiative at the 2015 Parliament of the World’s Religions, Oct. 16-19, 2015 in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Join with women of diverse faiths and spiritual traditions to:
- MAKE HISTORY
- SYNERGIZE THE PLATFORM
- SHARE INSPIRATION, IDEAS AND PRACTICES
- CONVENE IN THE SPIRIT OF SISTERHOOD
To participate in this historic gathering at incredible discounted rates, register today for the deepest 2015 Parliament discounts. When registering please write “Women’s Assembly & Program” in the interest section. More details will follow.
SUBMIT A PROGRAM – All women’s voices, wisdom and ways are welcome. Submit your proposal here!
Parliament Ambassador Launches Spirituality and Medicine Interest Group at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine
During my first few months in medical school, I noticed that religion was rarely discussed. As a Theology minor in college, I knew that religion was an important part of life for many Americans; indeed, nearly 9 in 10 Americans report a belief in some divine or spiritual power, and several studies have shown that organized faith communities can play important roles in promoting healthy behaviors. Topics related to spirituality and religious beliefs arose during the Healthcare Disparities course, but the discussions were only tangential. I had a feeling that students felt uncomfortable discussing such personal topics in the academic setting.
For this reason, I proposed a new student organization for the Pritzker School of Medicine at the University of Chicago: the Spirituality and Medicine (SAM) Interest Group. This group aims to create a safe space for discussion of how spirituality/religion affect healthcare. I thought that this idea fit in perfectly with Pritzker’s commitment to all forms of diversity. Last month, SAM was approved for funding by the Dean’s Council, and I was awarded Germanacos Fellowship, a $5000 grant to develop a medical discussion series focused on the intersections between spirituality/religion and medicine. These seminars will be partially based on a well-known religious literacy curriculum for healthcare workers developed by the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding. The Germanacos Fellowship was awarded by the Interfaith Youth Core, a Chicago-based nonprofit that aims to make interfaith cooperation a social norm in the United States by promoting inter-religious dialogue and community service.
I am interested in the intersections between spirituality and healthcare because my own religious beliefs inform my choice of career. My passion for medicine stems from a declaration in Islam and various other traditions that saving one person’s life is equivalent to saving all of mankind. Through my work with the Interfaith Youth Core during my undergraduate years at Georgetown University and as an Ambassador for the Parliament of the World’s Religions, I have come to realize that religious communities—like all social structures—can be divisive or, when harnessed correctly, can be powerful catalysts for social improvement. Fortunately, the medical field is especially conducive to interfaith engagement because the concepts of service and human dignity are always implicit. In addition, physicians are one of the most religiously-diverse populations in the United States, and providers are increasingly recognizing the importance of religious literacy in medical education.
Over the next several months, I hope to introduce other students to religious diversity in the healthcare world, and to provide opportunities for my classmates to reflect on their personal motivations and values (whether or not those they come from a religious background) for pursuing medicine. I also look forward to finding connections between existing student organizations and facilitating dialogues on important topics such as mental health, reproductive health, and organ donation.
While becoming a physician, I also want to be at the forefront of the interfaith movement’s expansion into the healthcare world. I would be interested in collaborating with similar proposals that bridge the areas of religion and medicine, and presenting our work at the upcoming Parliament of the World’s Religions in 2015. I intend to demonstrate that religion and science can work together rather than in opposition. I am guided by one of my favorite verses from the Quran: “Had God willed, He would have made mankind as a single religion [or community], but [He intended] to test you in what He has given you; so strive with each other for virtue (5:48).
Aamir Hussain is a first-year medical student at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine. . A recent graduate of Georgetown University, Aamir became an interfaith programs facilitator through leadership training introduced by the Interfaith Youth Core and now serves as an Ambassador of the Parliament of the World’s Religions.
Parliament Trustee Robert Sellers discusses film as a means of reflecting on human drama occurring across the globe, and as a springboard for conversation regarding shared values and the role of Religions therein.
Every couple of years, I offer a course for both undergraduate and graduate students at my university entitled “Religion and Film.” This theology-prefix course, offered on the Friday nights and Saturday mornings of about half of the semester weekends, is identified by the following course description: “An exploration of the relationship of modern film and religion, particularly Christianity. The focus will be upon theological interpretations of the characters and plots of selected mainstream movies. Students will have an opportunity to explore how specific spiritual and ethical motifs are treated in film.”
Some may question why movies should be a source for theological reflection. There are several good reasons. First, the Divine doesn’t only confront us in sacred texts, so we are challenged to grapple with the Mystery and to “read the text” in all of life’s experiences. Second, the visual and audio, and, (now, even) 4D capabilities of contemporary films greatly enhance the impact that they can contribute to those who experience them. Third, many screenwriters, directors, and actors consciously determine to communicate profound insights through their work, yet many movie viewers assume that films do little more than entertain, which is a notion that should be challenged. And, finally, film is perhaps the most popular artistic medium today, and the largest demographic of moviegoers are young people—the very group that, regardless of their religious (or non-religious) background, might learn to appreciate the power that a good story has to shape one’s moral character.
The way in which I structure my class meetings enables students to watch 14 films during our sessions together, as well as to participate in small group presentations at the end of the semester. Seminar members write a theological reflection on each movie, focused upon a suggested theme such as life, identity, guilt, forgiveness, pain, coping, faith, hope, love, trust, redemption, transformation, acceptance, and interdependence.
Some students enter the course expecting to view overtly religious movies—Christian films, to be precise, since my university has Baptist roots and distinctiveness. But they suppose the course title “Religion and Film” really means “Religion in Film,” and thus we’ll be watching movies that serve an apologetic function, like The Passion of the Christ (2004) or God is Not Dead (2014), or at least films where some perceived Christian virtue is dramatized, as in Facing the Giants (2006). These young people may also believe the movies I select will unequivocally demonstrate the superiority of “our” faith by portraying the bad behavior of persons who aren’t Christ-followers.
Other students think that finding a theological meaning in a movie simply requires identifying the story element that is contrary to their own particular religious upbringing. Thus, they will write a paper decrying marriage unfaithfulness in The Bridges of Madison County (1995), greed in The Wolf of Wall Street (2013), or sexual abuse in The Kite Runner (2007). But the theological meanings I want them to engage are more subtle and more gray than black or white. The Bridges of Madison County, for example, could yield a helpful discussion about choices, The Wolf of Wall Street about consequences, and The Kite Runner about redemption.
Such assumptions, however, are wrong and have nothing to do with my purpose or approach. What I want to do is to acquaint students with the human drama as it unfolds in many cultures and among people of different religious traditions. Thus, some of the films I select originate in countries other than the United States, while the values implicitly or explicitly expressed in the stories are grounded not only in Christianity, but in a variety of other religious traditions. Films of this type that I’ve used productively include In a Better World (Denmark, 2010), The Sea Inside (Spain, 2004), Rabbit-Proof Fence (Australia, 2002), Monsieur Lazhar (Canada, 2012), The Color of Paradise (Iran, 1999), Tsotsi (South Africa, 2005), Ajami (Israel, 2009), Innocent Voices (Mexico, 2005), and Five Minutes of Heaven (Ireland, 2009).
I’ve discovered that movies can also stimulate rich conversations concerning perspectives from the Religious Other and, especially, about ways to relate to persons who follow other faiths. One of the best entrees to such a discussion is the sweet story Stolen Summer (2002). Students are particularly interested discussing their idea of the themes in two cinematically gorgeous films by Ron Fricke, neither with a plot or dialogue, entitled Baraka (1992) and Samsara (2011). These visual and emotional “masterpieces” elicit multiple interpretations.
Based upon several years of successfully challenging very bright university students to think creatively about pop culture, I heartily recommend that films be used to initiate conversations about our shared values and virtues as people who practice various religions. They not only entertain hundreds of millions of people around the world—including a host of faithful adherents of our own spiritual traditions—but they are often reservoirs of helpful theological insight about the Divine, our fellow human beings, and the world which we all share.
Robert P. Sellers is professor of missions and theology at Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas, and represents Cooperative Baptist Fellowship on the Interfaith Relations Commission of the National Council of Churches, USA. He is a member of the Board of Trustee of the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions.
The Parliament of the World’s Religions is coming home. For the first time since 1993, the largest, most historic global interfaith summit is returning to the United States in October 2015. We are honored to invite you to experience a taste of this life-changing gathering on November 13, 2014. Join us in the Parliament’s home city by hosting your own table or purchasing tickets as together we look with great excitement toward our 2015 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Salt Lake City, Utah!
A celebratory, pre-Parliament event, benefitting the Parliament of the World’s Religions:
5:30pm: A Festival of Faiths Reception
6:30pm: Benefit Dinner and Program
8:00pm: Dessert Reception
Chicago Cultural Center, Sidney R. Yates Gallery, 78 East Washington Street, Chicago
For Tickets: Chicago Pre-Parliament Benefit on Eventbrite
This vibrant evening of learning and celebration will be a glimpse of the Parliament to come! At the Faiths Fest Reception you will rediscover the unique and varied gifts of our gathered faith communities. Two dynamic new videos, produced by Baha’i Media Services will be premiered, showcasing our rich tradition and pointing us toward a bright future. Over dinner, you will be engaged and inspired by our brief program including a call to action from Dr. Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mohandas Gandhi, and rousing performances, bringing the spirit of the Parliament directly to you. And, the most compelling aspect of the evening will be your opportunity to pre-register for the eagerly anticipated 2015 Parliament!
We hope that you will be with us on this momentous evening! If you are unable to be physically present, please consider a generous donation. As we move boldly towards our long awaited 2015 Parliament, your support and presence helps us step with confidence into our future. Thanks to you, that future is here.
Parliament Chair Abdul Malik Mujahid, Former V.P. Al Gore, and National Spiritual Leaders to Conclude Religions for the Earth Conference at Multi-Faith Service in NYC
On Sunday, September 21, Parliament Chair Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid will be speaking at the Religions for the Earth Multifaith Service at New York City’s Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine.
Mujahid’s view that “faith leaders must all join hands to save the only planet we have” will come to life at the service featuring a prestigious group of leaders in the religious, spiritual, and Earth-spiritual communities presented in collaboration with Former-Vice President of the United States Al Gore, who is also slated to speak.
Speakers and attendees will be enveloped in celebratory acts of music, performance and ritual all building toward a massive pledge of spiritual communities honoring the sacred environment in real, practical actions.
As a co-sponsor of the Religions for the Earth conference, the Parliament will be connecting with a strategic assembly of 200 other leaders in interfaith, religious, faith and spiritual organizations. Union Theological Seminary is hosting the conference as part of events kicking off NY Climate Week in advance of the United Nations Climate Summit.
In Mujahid’s view, the growing commitments faith communities are making to advance environmental protections will see more promising results by applying the influence leaders can have in multiple ways.
Mujahid says, “As more than 40 percent of America listens to pulpits every week, we must not only preach the gospel of sharing more and consuming less. But also, we must do our best to influence the guiding institutions to become more serious in urgently developing the relevant public policies. Better public policies and better consumer behavior both are needed. And this will be a major theme in the 2015 Parliament of the World’s Religions.”
Religions for the Earth Conference attendees will also participate in the biggest climate march in history, The People’s Climate March, expected to unite over 100,000 environmental stewards organizing from across all social institutions on Sunday, September 21. Faith and interfaith representation at the march will climb into the multiple thousands.
Peace activism in general will reach a global high on September 21, which is the United Nations official observance of International Day of Peace, coinciding with satellite climate events taking place all over the world.
The evening Religions for the Earth Multi-Faith Service is open to the public, featuring speakers including:
- Uncle Angaangaq Angakkorsuaq, Founder – IceWisdom International, Eskimo, Kalaallit Elder
- Chief Arvol Looking Horse, Lakota Sioux 19th Generation Keeper of the White Buffalo Calf Pipe Bundle
- Rabbi Ellen Bernstein, Founder – Shomrei Adamah, Keepers of the Earth
- Ms. Dekila Chungyalpa, Environmental Advisor to His Holiness, the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje
- Father Edwin Gariguez, General Secretary – Caritas Philippines
- Former Vice-President Al Gore, Chairman – The Climate Reality Project
- Reverend Dr. Serene Jones, President, Union Theological Seminary
- Reverend Dr. James Kowalski, Director – Cathedral of Saint John the Divine
- Iriama Margaret Lokawua, Director – Indigenous Women Environmental Conservation Project
- Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid, Chair – Parliament of the World’s Religions
- Dr. Vandana Shiva, Founder – Navdanya
- Rev. Jim Wallis, President and Founder – Sojourners
- Terry Tempest Williams, Writer and Teacher
When: Sunday, September 21, 2014 at 6 p.m. EST
Where: The Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine, 1047 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10025
Religions for the Earth MultiFaith Service is being presented by host Union Theological Seminary, and co-sponsored by the Parliament of the World’s Religions, GreenFaith, Interfaith Center of New York, the World Council of Churches, Religions for Peace, and the Cathedral Saint John the Divine.