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Women of Spirit and Faith Invite Contributors to Divine Feminine

Via Kathe Schaaf, Women of Spirit and Faith:

 

 

 

 

 

Attention women of the CPWR community: Women of Spirit and Faith hosts a collaborative blog ‘The Divine Feminine’ on the Patheos.com media platform. You are invite to contribute a post during the month of February exploring the following question:

Women of Spirit and Faith was born at the 2009 Parliament of the World’s Religions, where we saw an opportunity to invite women who are ‘spiritual but not religious’ into the interfaith conversation and to affirm the spiritual leadership of all women.

We are continuously inspired and energized by the wisdom of the women who have joined the WSF community. Their creativity and passion are one of the many forces shifting and changing the interfaith community, which we see rapidly evolving beyond dialogue and into a living experience of co-creation, collaboration and support.  Tell us what you see happening in your life.

Send a blog of 100-800 words to Divine Feminine blog to divine.feminine.wsf@gmail.com. Please include a one-sentence bio and a photograph of yourself.

A Reflection on Nelson Mandela from Imam Mujahid, Parliament Chair of the Board

We all knew of Nelson Mandela’s state and his age. Yet, his death is still a tremendous loss to all of us who learned to struggle against all odds from the man who put his trust in the humanity of his oppressors, the leaders of South Africa’s apartheid system. He wrote a new chapter on the power of dialogue which he, a helpless prisoner, initiated with his powerful captors. And he did all of this without losing his dignity, without compromising his principles, and without being intimidated by the power of the apartheid regime.

Imam Dr. Abdul Malik Mujahid, Chair of the Board of Trustees, Parliament of the World’s Religions

It was because of the power of his non-violent struggle, as well as his compassion toward those who took almost all of his youth from him, that I went to South Africa, despite all odds, to attend the Parliament of the World’s Religions in 1999. It was my way of celebrating the power of peaceful struggle. Mandela may not be big on religion, but he sure was high on the ideals of humanity. That is where I made my personal commitment to the interfaith movement, which believes in and promotes the power of dialogue and human relationships.

I had the honor of meeting one of Nelson Mandela’s “comrades”, Ahmed Mohamed Kathrada, at the Radio Islam studio in Chicago. He was among those imprisoned at Robben Island along with Mandela. It was after talking with him that I learned how Mandela transformed the life of this young rebel into positive energy for change. 

In today’s world, where hate is rising, the people of love and humanity, those of faith and the “nones”, need to rise as a force for positive human relationships.  In a world where one-third of humanity is obese while another third sleeps hungry, let’s share more and consume less.

Let us remember together as we mourn together, that “None of you has faith until you love for your neighbor what you love for yourself.” Long Live Madiba!

Imam Dr. Abdul Malik Mujahid

Chair of the Board of Trustees

Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions

A Reflection on the Life of Nelson Mandela from Dr. Robert Henderson, Parliament Trustee

A few years ago I was standing in Nelson Mandela Square in the center of a large shopping mall in Sandton, South Africa admiring the famous 20 ft. statue of Mandela.

As I stood there, one after another Afrikaner families walked up to the statue and took photographs of their blond haired blue-eyed children. One could not help but think that the parents of these children were not raised to admire Mandela, but to fear him and what they had been taught he stood for.

Dr. Robert C. Henderson, Elected Member of National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the United States, Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions Trustee

Nevertheless, on this warm evening, they patiently coaxed their children to stand straight and tall at the feet of the great man.

What powers of spirit and vision could bring such transformation? Perhaps it was the unimpeachable integrity of moral stamina undiminished by 27 years of imprisonment.

Or the indomitable will inspired by the vision of social justice that he bent to the task of exorcising the spirit of apartheid—employing the tools Truth and Reconciliation instead of bloodshed to shepherd a nation, conceived in social injustice, to a united future.

Nelson Mandela birthed a new South Africa and in so doing revitalized the spirits of moral excellence and social justice among people in every land. Like South Africa, we all have much yet to do in the quest for truth, reconciliation, and unity. But thanks to Mandela, we have a model to follow. A model of true faith steeped in patience, an unbending vision of social justice without shortcuts or compromise.

Mandela was committed to religion as a powerful agent of change. “Without the religious institutions, he explained at the Parliament of the Worlds Religions in Cape Town, “I would not be here today.”

“You have to have been in a South African jail under apartheid where you could see the cruelty of human beings to each other in its naked form. “…Religious institutions and their leaders gave us hope that one day we could return.”

He explained that Christian, Muslim, Hindu and Jewish religious groups were instrumental in providing him and other young blacks with an education – and later in giving comfort to political prisoners and their families.

As grateful recipients of Mandela’s precious gifts to humankind, perhaps each one of us might arise and struggle to return the favor in the name of our many faiths. We must work together to carry on the mission that Nelson Mandela gave his life to: to build a world inspired by love and guided by the principle of true justice, that we are all one family—bound together by bonds and ties that are stronger than blood. Nelson Mandela his gone from us now, but his spirit must live on in our hearts and guide our service to God, to our nations, and to one another.

The Ascension of Mandela, Reflections from Dr. Lawrence Carter, Parliament Trustee

Dr. Lawrence Edward Carter Sr.Trustee, Council for A Parliament of the World’s Religions

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, ‘Madiba,’ has now passed into the Light. He was here now he is everywhere. He reminded us that although we have the machinery of war, it is only by our nonviolent choices that we can create the machinery of peace. With tireless passion, immense heart, an extraordinary mind and unfathomable self-sacrifice, he forgot himself into immortality and showed us how to establish the beloved ultimate economic world community.

Lawrence Edward Carter Sr., Ph.D., D.D., D.H., D.R.S., D.H.C.
Dean, Martin Luther King International Chapel
Professor of Religion, College Archivist and Curator
Founder, Gandhi, King, Ikeda Institute for Global Ethics and Reconciliation
Morehouse College
Trustee, Council for A Parliament of the World’s Religions

Nelson Mandela’s Speech to 1999 Parliament Still Soars (FULL TEXT)

On the day the Nelson Mandela has died, the Parliament of the World’s Religions remembers a speech that shook the souls of Interfaith fourteen years ago to the day. Speaking on the evening of Sunday, December 5, 1999, the former and first black president of South Africa told the thousands gathered about how interfaith cooperation was the only peaceful means to end Apartheid. 

LISTEN: Mandela Moves Cape Town at Parliament of the World’s Religions, 1999

Master of ceremonies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.

Nelson Mandela smiles on the Parliament of World Religions in Cape Town, South Africa, December 5, 1999. That evening, the world leader shook the souls of thousands with a soaring oration on the changing global family approaching a new millennium. Critical junctures faced humanity that still persist 14 years later.

Unfortunately, I must tell a story, which in gatherings of this nature I have told more than a hundred times. Because that story puts in context some of the remarks that have been made here about one individual. This is when I spent a holiday in the Bahamas in 1993. I met some tourists — a man and a wife — as I was taking a walk and the man stopped and said, “Mr. Mandela.”

I said, “Many people mistake me for that chap.” And he said, “Would I be entitled to take you for that chap?” I said, “You’d be doing what many people are doing.” He then turned to his beloved wife and said, “Darling, Mr. Mandela.”

She was totally unimpressed.

She said, “What is he famous for?” And the husband in his embarrassment dropped his voice and said, “Mr. Mandela, Mr. Mandela.” And the woman insisted “I asked what is he famous for?” And before the husband answered she turned to me and said, “What are you famous for?”

I couldn’t answer the question.

But there is another incident near, at home, when a five-year-old lady — I was told by security that she was at the gate. And I said, “Let her come in.” And they said, “She is very cheeky” I said, “Precisely for that reason let her come in.” And indeed she was quite a lady because she just stormed into my lounge without knocking, did not greet me and the first remark was, “How old are you?” I said, “Well, I can’t remember, but I was born long, long ago.” She said, “Two years ago?” I said, “No, much longer than that.”

She suddenly changed the topic and said, “why did you go to jail?” I said, “Well, I didn’t go to jail before because I liked. Some people sent me there.”

“Who?”

I said, “Some people did not like me.” And she said, “How long did you remain there?” I said, “Now I can’t remember.”

“Two years?”

I said, “No, more than that.” Then she says, “You are a stupid old man, aren’t you?” And having made that devastating attack, she sat down with me and joked with me as if she had paid me a compliment.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, I hope at the end of my speech if you feel that I have not risen to expectations, I hope you will be more diplomatic than that young lady.

The truth of the old African proverb that we are people through other people is tonight very evocatively being demonstrated by this gathering of so many people from all parts of the world. This coming together here in this southernmost city on the African continent of representatives from such a wide range of the faiths of the world simbolizes the acknowledgement of our mutual interdependence and common humanity. It is to me a humbling experience to be part of this moving expression and reaffirmation of the nobility of the human spirit. This century has seen enough of destruction, injustice, strife and division, suffering and pain and of our capacity to be massively inhuman the one to the other. There is sufficient cause for being cynical about human life and about humanity. This gathering at the close of our century serves to counter despair and cynicism and calls us to a recognition and reaffirmation of that which is great and generous and caring in the human spirit. We are being reminded in the words of the psalm that we were indeed created a little lower than the angels and crowned with glory and honor.

I accept with humility and great appreciation the honors that you have sought fit to bestow on an old man in the years of his retirement. If nothing else, it demonstrates that old age still intimidates people into paying respect and homage.

I accept these awards not merely on my behalf. I do so in recognition of the three persons after whom the awards are named and in celebration of what they stood for. I wish through the receipt of these awards to identify with those values which they represented so powerfully in their respective lives and works a commitment to peace, nonviolence and dialogue.

I also dedicate these awards to those millions and millions of ordinary unsung men and women all over the world who throughout this century courageously refused to bow to the baser instincts of our nature and to live their lives in pursuit of peace, tolerance, and respect for differences.

Even in the closing decade of the century, we have witnessed how internecine strife degenerated into genocide with former neighbors participating in the slaughter of each other. This century, unfortunately, had too many leaders attempting to exploit communal differences for their own political ends. In most instances, it was the resolve and the determination of ordinary citizens to resist this course to destructive sectarianism that saved our world from even more instances of genocide and violent conflict. It is them the decent, general citizenry who we salute at the close of the century that has its share of war and strife. We have had men who were so arrogant that they wanted to conquer the world and turn human beings into their slaves. But the people always put an end to such men and women. Alexander the Great thought he could conquer the world. Caesar also had the same ambitions. Napoleon almost succeeded in laying the whole of Europe at his feet. And during our time, there emerged Hitler who did exactly the same thing. But it was the ordinary people, not kings and generals, it was the ordinary people, some of whom were not known in their own villages who put an end to those tyrants — to those dictators. And it is for that reason that the real leaders of the world are those who for 24 hours a day think in terms of the poorest of the poor. It is those men and women who know that poverty is the single most dangerous threat to society in the world today.

In our country, my generation is the product of religious education. We grew up at a time when the government of this country owed its duty only to whites: a minority of less than 15 percent. They took no interest whatsoever in our education. It was religious institutions whether Christian, Moslem, Hindu or Jewish in the context of our country, they are the people who bought land, who built schools, who equipped them, who employed teachers, and paid them. Without the church, without religious institutions, I would never have been here today. It was for that reason, that when I was ready to go to the United States on the first of this month, an engagement which had been arranged for quite some time, when my comrade Ibrahim told me about this occasion I said I would change my whole itinerary so I would have the opportunity to appear here.

But I must also add that I do appreciate the importance of religion. Apart from the background that I’ve given you, you’d have to have been in a South African jail under apartheid where you can see the cruelty of human beings to others in their naked form. But it was again religious institutions, Hindus, Moslems, leaders of the Jewish faith, Christians, it was them who gave us the hope that one day we would come out. We would return. And in prisons, the religious institutions raised funds for our children who were arrested in thousands and thrown into jail.

And many when they left prison had a high level of education because of the support we got from religious institutions. And that is why we so respect religious institutions and we try as much as we can to read the literature which outlines the fundamental principals of human behavior like the Bhagavad Gita, Koran, the Bible and other important religious documents. And I say this so that you should understand that the propaganda that has been made, for example about the liberation movement in this country, it is completely untrue. Because religion was one of the motivating factors in everything that we did.

In some respects, the turn of the century is an arbitrary happening in the cycle of human life where there is always change from one day to the other. In other respects, it provides us with the symbolic opportunity to take stock of the substance of our lives and of what lies ahead.

As we approach the 21st century, we cannot but be starkly aware that we stand at a crossroads in our history. That the general citizenry to which we referred — those women, men and children who merely desire and have inalienable right to lead a decent life — continue to suffer deprivation and poverty. The world is still marked by massive inequality. In too many parts of the world warfare and violent conflict still reign. The powerful dominate at the expense of the poor and the vulnerable. The symbolic turn of the century calls us to a commitment to make the coming century one in which these and other issues of human development are fundamentally addressed. We shall have to reach deep into the wells of our human faith as we approach the new century. No less than in any other period of history, religion will have a crucial role to play in guiding and inspiring humanity to meet the enormous challenges that we face. In our South African society, we have identified as a crucial need for our efforts at material and social development and new construction to be matched and accompanied by what is called an RDP of the soul — a moral reconstruction and development program. That is no less true of our entire world.

The world is undergoing a profound redefinition of values and modes of perception. The globalization of the world economy and the outstanding advances of communications technology have drawn all of us together into a smaller world. Those technical advances might, however, also have contributed to a growing confusion of values as people seek to find their localized places in that globalized world. The escalation of poverty in a world that is at the same time marked by such opulence and excessive wealth, the suffering and marginalization of vulnerable groups at a time when the concepts of democracy and equality are supposed to have become universal, the growing degradation of the environment often caused by the greed of industrial development. These are but some of the contradictions that at heart are moral and ethical questions. And on the level of personal life as the world supposedly becomes smaller, the loneliness of individual human beings across the globe increases.

Religion, like all other aspects of human lives, of course faces its own challenges. We have seen how religion at times provided the basis and even gave legitimization to violent expressions of intolerance and conflict. Tragically, religion sometimes seemed to have lost its ability to hold people to good values and to inspire in them those articles and approaches that transcend the narrow and immediate considerations. Religious leaders, institutions and adherents now once more need to draw upon those critical resources that have made it such a central part of human life throughout the ages. Few other dimensions of human life reach such a massive following as the religious. Its roots are in every nook and cranny of society where political leaders and the economically powerful have no sway. The religions and faiths of our world have pondered over and listened. Hence the importance to once again draw on those forces of spirituality and innate goodness.

No government or social agency can on its own meet the enormous challenges of development of our age. Partnerships are required across the broad range of society. In drawing upon its spiritual and communal resources, religion can be a powerful partner in such causes as meeting the challenges of poverty, alienation, the abuse of women and children, and the destructive disregard for our natural environment.

We read into your honoring our country with your presence an acknowledgement of the achievement of the nation and we trust in a small way that our struggle might have contributed to other people in the world.

We commend the Parliament of the World’s Religions for its immense role in making different communities see that the common ground is greater and more enduring than the differences that divide. It is in that spirit that we can approach the dawn of the new century with some hope that it will be indeed a better one for all of the people of the world.

I thank you.

Full text of speech by Nelson Mandela at the Parliament of the World’s Religions, Cape Town, South Africa, December 1999. Transcribed by Gillian Hagerty, “The Word Foundation.”

Towards A Global Ethic: Reaffirming Our Commitment to Interfaith Harmony on Parliament Anniversary

A Preface by Imam Dr. Abdul Malik Mujahid, Chair of the Board of Trustees

Human interconnectedness has been transformed dramatically by technology. However, our hearts and our minds are yet to be aligned with the God-given ideals of sharing more and consuming less to achieve better results for the humanity.

In a world where more than a billion people live under two dollars a day; where 45 million people are fleeing conflict and persecution; where fear, hate, and anger are rising, we have a responsibility to be good neighbors, to be compassionate, and to live by the Golden Rule.

The Parliament of the World’s Religions has been ahead of its time in envisioning a better future. Almost a century before the word “global village” was introduced in 1962, the Parliament literally invented the gift of interfaith for our world.

It was also well ahead of its time when the Declaration Toward a Global Ethic was issued at the 1993 Parliament. For the first time in history, representatives of all of the world’s religions agreed on the shared ethics that are grounded in their own religions and traditions:

• The principle of shared humanity

• The Golden Rule of reciprocity

• A commitment to peace and justice

In the last 20 years since the signing of this declaration, people have collected more than 700,000 pieces of content on this topic. There are organizations that have been established based on its theme. Some of these include the Global Ethic Foundation, the Institute for Global Ethics, and the Global Ethics Network. We have also seen the development of campaigns based on topics we advanced, such as the Charter of Compassion, a Charter of Forgiveness, A Common Word Between Us and You, and campaigns to promote the Golden Rule.

So at this juncture, on the 20th anniversary of the 1993 Parliament, we at the Parliament reaffirm our commitment to interfaith harmony by reissuing the Global Ethics and by reasserting our mission: to cultivate harmony among the world’s religious and spiritual communities, and to foster their engagement with the world and its guiding institutions in order to achieve a just, peaceful and sustainable world.

We must learn the forgotten lesson that “None of you has faith until you love for your neighbor what you love for yourself.”

Let us, then, friends, share more and consume less!

Let us work hand in hand to change ourselves while saving the only planet we have.

May God open our hearts toward our neighbors. May our Creator open the hearts of our neighbors toward us. Amen.

This preface leads the 2013 reaffirmation of the vision of the Global Ethic penned by Parliament Chair, Imam Dr. Abdul Malik Mujahid on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the document. Join Imam Mujahid, the Parliament, and this generation’s voices for peace by signing the 2013 Call to Live Out the Vision Toward a Global Ethic! 

Mayor Rahm Emanuel of Chicago Commemorates Parliament of the World’s Religions Anniversaries

Dear Members and Friends of the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions:

As Mayor and on behalf of the City of Chicago, I am pleased to welcome all of those gathered for both the 120th & 20th anniversary celebrations for the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions.

It is truly exciting to know what an important role Chicago has played in the 120 years since the inaugural Parliament of the World’s Religions was held here, and then 20 years ago in the second – the 1993 Parliament. The 1893 Chicago Parliament opened the door for the interreligious movement and that event brought together thousands of people from all over the world. It marked a pivotal moment for many different religions and spiritual communities from the east and west coming together around a common commitment to justice and peace.

In 1993, the second Parliament introduced a Global Ethics Initiative that maintains a vision of people living peacefully together and sharing responsibility for the care of the earth while identifying the common commitments that come out of different belief traditions. In Chicago, we know there’s a need for this important work. When religious and spiritual communities combine their strengths and commitments, a more just, peaceful and sustainable world is the result.

These special anniversary celebrations and benefits represent an ongoing commitment to thoughtful, enduring work. The Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions not only unites people of spirit and faith to engage with the issues of our time, but also mobilizes efforts to combat bias and hate. I offer heartfelt congratulations on this auspicious occasion and recognize all of those
involved.

I am confident that Chicago will continue to be a central meeting place for the Council for a
Parliament of the World’s Religions. Best wishes for much continued success.

Sincerely,

Rahm Emanuel

Mayor

Honoring Our Jain Delegate from India at 1893 Parliament: Lawyer Virchand Raghavji Gandhi (1864-1901)

Virchand Gandhi, Delegate representing Jainism at 1893 Parliament of the World’s Religions

For many years, an indelible delegate to the Parliament has not been found within the 1893 Parliament’s archival history on this site. The Parliament is pleased to introduce the name Virchand Gandhi to the roster of dynamic Indian delegates celebrated during this important anniversary year.

For the 1893’s Parliament of World Religions, originally the most acclaimed Jain Priest, Muni Atmaramji, was invited to represent Jainism. His photo and details were printed in Rev. John. H. Barrows official book (Page 21& 56). When it became evident Rev. Muni Atmaramji could not attend, his disciple, Lawyer Virchand Raghavji Gandhi, was deputed to represent Jainism.

As a Jain delegate, Virchand Gandhi captivated the 1893’s Parliament of World Religions.

In Rev. J.H.Barrow’s book Virchand Gandhi’s following speeches are recorded:

  1. Welcome speech on Opening Day in afternoon session (September 11, 1893)
  2. Speech on the philosophy and ethics of the Jains
  3. A patriotic speech in reference to the allegations of the previous day against the morality of the Hindu religions (audience applauded on his every word
  4. A closing speech whereby Virchand Gandhi was greeted with much applause as he came forward to speak on last day.

Virchand Gandhi was one of the chief exporters of the Jain Religion from India and was the secretary of Jain Association of India. For East Indian Delegates, a dinner was arranged by Rev. J. Henry Barrows and William Pipe before the commencement of 1893’s Parliament which was attended by Virchand Gandhi and other Indian delegates.

Two more important movements were floated after 1893’s, Parliament of World Religions closed, and in both committees the name of Virchand Gandhi appeared as a committee member along with Dr. Paul Carus and other team mates.

On Sale Now: Speaker Program and Reception (Only!) Discounted Tickets for Parliament Benefit

Attention students, clergy, and compassionate Chicagoans!  Tickets are now on sale for the afternoon program and reception of Living Out the Vision,  Saturday, November 16 at the Chicago Sinai Congregation.

The 120/20-year anniversary benefit of the Parliament of the World’s Religions afternoon program has brought together a schedule of four distinguished speakers on the history of the interfaith movement and its unique Chicago roots.

Tickets to the afternoon program and reception are now $150 $50.00 and can be purchased here.

Participants will interact with speakers on the following groundbreaking areas of Interfaith:

  • The Global Ethic with Dr. Daniel Gomez-Ibáñez
  • Women of the 1893 Parliament with Dr. Allison Stokes
  • Swami Vivekananda with Swami Varadananda
  • The Impact of the Parliament of the World’s Religions with Dr. Martin E. Marty
At 5:30 p.m. we welcome all program guests to a special reception. This is a special opportunity with the Parliament’s legacy leaders to meet rising stars in the interfaith movement. College and seminary students are especially encouraged to participate. 

Thank you for your interest in the benefit dinner which has sold out.  Sponsorship and benefactor information is available through consultation with Development Associate, Brian Savage, 312 – 629 – 2990 ext. 233

The Founding Females of Interreligious Leadership, Scholarship, and Service

Celebrating the role of women in the 1893 Parliament, pioneers of the interfaith movement, is the passion of scholar Rev. Allison Stokes, Ph.D. Ambassador for the Parliament of World Religions and Founding Director of the Women’s Interfaith Institute of the Finger Lakes. An accomplished professor and historian, Dr. Stokes is pursuing publishing a book on the prominent women’s voices in the history of interfaith. Dr. Stokes will be speaking on this research at the Living Out The Vision program and dinner benefit of the 20th/120th anniversaries of the Parliament of the World’s Religions, November 16, in Chicago, IL. This article is an excerpt of this body of work and the second installation of the Parliament Anniversary Series.

Looking Back to 1848 and 1893: Feminist Pioneers  in Inter-Religious Leadership, Scholarship and Service

When Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott created the Declaration of Sentiments, a document that 68 women and 32 men signed at the first women’s rights convention in 1848 in Seneca Falls, NY, they had specific things to say about “the usurpations on the part of man toward woman” when it came to the subject of religion.

Among their grievances: “He closes against her all the avenues to wealth and distinction, which he considers most honorable to himself.  As a teacher of theology, medicine, or law, she is not known….” 

Furthermore, “He allows her in Church, as well as State, but a subordinate position, claiming Apostolic authority for her exclusion from the ministry, and, with some exceptions, from any public participation in the affairs of the Church…” 

And finally,He has usurped the prerogative of Jehovah himself, claiming it as his right to assign for her a sphere of action, when that belongs to her conscience and her God.”[i]

Forty-five years later, at the time of the World’s Columbian Exposition (more commonly known as the Chicago World’s Fair), the situation was different.  Progress had been made.  

When the Rev. Anna Howard Shaw, MD, gave a sermon at the closing event of the World’s Congress of Representative Women held during the opening month of the fair in 1893, on the platform with her were 18 ordained clergywomen from 13 different Christian denominations.  Shaw opened her message in a manner that was extraordinary.   She began, as expected, with a text from the New Testament, but immediately followed it with readings from the religion of Zoroaster, Buddhism, the “Mohammedan scriptures,” and Confucius.[ii]  Throughout her message Shaw demonstrated a global feminism and inclusive vision that viewed in retrospect was a preview to the first World’s Parliament of Religions that would be held at the fair four months later.

Although Elizabeth Cady Stanton did not attend the first world’s Parliament of Religions in September 1893, she wrote a paper for the occasion that was delivered by

Susan B. Anthony—“The Worship of God in Man.”  This was just one of 19 speeches delivered by women in the massive building (with halls that seated 5,000 people) that is now the Art Institute of Chicago.  Feminist scholars of religion owe a debt of gratitude to Professor Ursula King for her article, “Rediscovering Women’s Voices at the World’s Parliament of Religions.”[iii]  Here Dr. King points out that ten percent of the addresses given at the Parliament were given by women. This proportion is stunning considering that at the time it was considered improper for women to speak in public, and many were ostracized for doing so.  Feminist scholars also owe a debt of gratitude to the Rev. Dr. John Henry Barrows for publishing before year’s end in 1893 the papers of the World’s Parliament, and so preserving a record of women’s contributions.[iv]  At the conclusion of the Parliament Barrows observed, “The Congress was a notable event… for woman, for then she secured the largest recognition of her intellectual rights ever granted.”[v]  Unfortunately, not much at all has been made of this fact in histories of Women in Religion.Inspired and surprised by the achievements of our foremothers, I have been doing research on Women’s Voices at the 1893 World’s Parliament. In December 2009 I presented a PowerPoint lecture on the topic at the 5th Parliament of World’s Religions in Melbourne, Australia. People were amazed: “Why don’t we know about this?”  Indeed.

Recovering the stories of women who were earliest pioneers in the interfaith movement is an ongoing project of mine.  I look forward to sharing some of what I have learned in Chicago on November 16th at the anniversary celebration of the first Parliament 120 years ago and the second Parliament a century later—20 years ago.

Julia Ward Howe
“What is, and What is Not, Religion?”

Fannie Barrier Williams
“The Religious Mission of the Colored Race”

Celia Parker Woolley
“The World’s Religious Debt to America”


[i]www.nps.gov/archive/wori/declaration.htm

[ii] Sewall, May Wright, ed. The World’s Congress of Representative Women. Chicago, IL: Rand McNally, 1894, pp. 857-858.  See my article, “Global Feminism and Inclusion in Anna Howard Shaw’s 1893 Sermon,” in Postscripts, vol 5, no 2 (2009). http://www.equinoxpub.com/index.php/POST/article/view/10245

[iii]See A Museum of Faiths, Histories and Legacies of the 1893 World’s Parliament of Religions, Eric J. Ziolkowski, ed.  Atlanta, Georgia: Scholars Press, 1993, pp. 325-343.

[iv] The World’s Parliament of Religions, Volumes I and II.  Chicago: The Parliament Publishing Company, 1893.

[v] Barrows, vol. II, pp. 1569-1570.

October 11th, 2013 at 2:25 pm