Archive for the ‘peace’ tag
The Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions released these statements in the newsletter and on CPWR social media channels in response to the April 15, 2013 bombing at the Boston Marathon.
During the FBI search for the second suspect, widespread misinformation circulated like a virus on the Internet implicating Islamic extremism in the crime. The older brother, suspect number one, died after sustaining fatal injuries in a gunfight with the police the night before. He was identified as an immigrant from Chechnya, This led to violent and hateful backlash against peaceful Muslim-Americans. The Parliament responded on Friday, April 19:
What do Martin Richard’s words, “No more hurting people, peace,” really mean?
We are mourning the injuries and loss of life sustained in the Boston Marathon bombing and subsequent events. But we condemn the way in which media and the public have so quickly targeted Muslims. What we know:
Several Boston Muslims were beaten this week, including a Muslim physician, before images of the suspects surfaced.
Yet, Muslims have been helpers and healers. Muslims have been running the Boston marathon for years. Working in the center of catastrophe, Muslims were first responders, surgeons operating on victims, and doctors supervising chaotic emergency rooms,
Interfaith action must be immediate to challenge generalizing Muslims.
- We challenge shameful media: A Fox commentator tweeted that all Muslims be killed.
- We challenge criminalizing faiths: If a bomber is Muslim, why is it a Muslim crime, but a white, Christian carries out a massacre in the case of Adam Lanza at Sandy Hook Elementary, and his faith is not a question?
- Islamophobia is as harmful as ANY OTHER FORM of hate, equal to Anti-Semitism and racism towards African-Americans and Latinos.
The Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions would like to help share resources for Interfaith action. Please notify firstname.lastname@example.org, Faiths Against Hate Coordinator, with any useful tips.
Thank you for standing in solidarity. Peace.
On Tuesday, April 16, 2012 in response to the bombing at the Boston marathon the prior day:
The Council that convenes the Parliament of the World’s Religions reels in the pain felt worldwide because of yesterday’s tragic bombing. We share our deepest sympathy for those who’ve lost life and limb, their families, and the City of Boston. For many still fighting to stay alive, we stand with you.
The Parliament of the World’s Religions commits to channeling the energy of love and prayers into unyielding action against violence.
We honor the runners whose beautiful journeys, many in tribute to the slain of Sandy Hook Elementary, were robbed of their triumphant finish. Their strength and determination exemplified heroism yesterday when running through that harrowing scene to aid the wounded. We must not let the hope they give us all become tarnished by violence.
We hope that the culprits are found and apprehended soon. Whether terrorists are domestic- or foreign-born, we must not abide five years passing before identifying perpetrators, such as transpired after the 1996 Olympic Games bombing in Atlanta, GA. Naming the guilty parties is critical to restoring a sense of security, but we also emphasize that perpetrators of violence should be included in your prayers. This act is strong and healing.
The Interfaith movement must move to show that there is another way. Interfaith prayer vigils and worship services can unite us, but we must also be organized to mediate the ongoing hate fear and anger into positive human relationships.
It is our duty to intervene in the blame game. Communities and individuals of all religious, faith, and spiritual backgrounds must act in harmony to promote peace. It is imperative to break this cycle of violence that is fueled by fear. Every tragedy divides us when we see an enemy in our faith neighbor. This Boston bombing, like the Madrid train bomb, and September 11 have cultivated a pervasive fear. It hurts us all.
In this spirit we continue a year-long campaign to combat hate. Our nationwide Faiths Against Hate initiative moves to mediate hate, fear, and anger through common goals of peace into positive human relationships. Through webinars, social networking, and day-long trainings, Faiths Against Hate is equipping faith leaders and all who are called to make a difference in this uphill movement. Constructively empowering communities to act courageously with new tools can stop these brutal acts against humanity.
“We’ve gotta tear down those walls. We’ve gotta TEAR DOWN those walls. WE’VE GOTTA TEAR DOWN THOSE WALLS!”
Depicting a 196o’s summer rally, Dr. Mary Nelson, CPWR’s Interim CEO, relives a historical moment. For her, this is a personal story of joining her neighbors to protest housing discrimination against people of color. Committing to march for the civil rights cause, Mary worked passionately for this open, “beloved” community.
Leading the civil rights movement to the North, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had journeyed to Chicago to launch what would become a summer-long effort. His Saturday marches concentrated on those neighborhoods that were the most bitterly opposed to integration.
Nelson says, “King preached the night before [the first march] that we had to tear down the walls of racism, of economic injustice, and the way to tear down those walls was to peacefully just make a witness and be strong. We had to have some training in non-violence and how to do that.”
It isn’t a pretty piece of history, and Nelson doesn’t gloss over the raw and gritty reality of what it was. But it was also an exciting time to change the system. Rabbis and Christian clergy together answered King’s ecumenical call. Black Muslims who were beginning to add their voice to the movement often took jobs as King’s bodyguards.
Dr. Nelson had joined an interfaith force for change, and was ready to take to the streets.
Trekking together down Cicero Avenue, pastors marched in front linking arm-in-arm to King. Singing “We Shall Overcome” and “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around,” their chorus wouldn’t be thrown, even as bystanders littered the march trying to impale everything about it.
Lining their path, the sidewalks were overcrowded by epithet-screaming opponents. Nelson says in that time, “if you were to label them, they’d be rednecks.”
Par for the course, they prepared to encounter danger and would enact a non-violent response. Through the sounds of firecrackers that burst frighteningly like gunshots, Nelson was walking behind Mahalia Jackson, the gospel singer who’d sing at King’s rallies.
Jackson had brought the marchers to their feet the night before singing, “Joshua fit The Battle of Jericho and those walls a’come tumblin’ down…,”
Nelson was stumped in her tracks with everyone else as a disturbing scene unfolded. “One man with just hate filling his face, a fantastic visual of hate, did a big glob of spit onto Mahalia’s cheek,” Nelson cringes to recall.
Planted in place, Mahalia turned and stared her bully straight in the eyes, peering into him. All watched Ms. Jackson as she wiped away the man’s spit and offered him the words, “God Bless You My Child.”
“The power of nonviolence had made this big, bully man and all his hate just shrivel up, like Judas, and he understood that his power was nothing compared to the power of being able to bless him in the midst of that,” Nelson says.
It was the first time Nelson says she viscerally experienced the power of non-violence. From that point, she would march each Saturday that summer while King took residence in an impoverished West-side Chicago neighborhood.
Preaching to break down barriers and make room for everyone in a beloved community, King dispatched his wider vision for equality that would change Chicago and the nation. These shared convictions would also guide Nelson through decades of leadership in community organizing. Now at the helm of our global interfaith council, Nelson tirelessly dedicates each day to justice, and happily shares stories that drop the jaws of those around her.
Like the story of marching with MLK, which Nelson more aptly calls, “My Mahalia Jackson story.”
And really…, it is.
Last week’s presidential events gave religion a headlining spot in post-inauguration coverage. Intertwining faith and politics made God a trending topic, and the role of faith in the U.S. government sparked new discussions. Obama stuck closely to his and the nation’s traditions, but chose words and faith leaders to voice first-time topics in U.S. presidential inauguration ceremonies.
Obama said, “…that is our generation’s task – to make these words, these rights, these values – of Life, and Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness – real for every American. Being true to our founding documents does not require us to agree on every contour of life; it does not mean we will all define liberty in exactly the same way, or follow the same precise path to happiness. Progress does not compel us to settle centuries-long debates about the role of government for all time – but it does require us to act in our time.”
Inaugural speech makers invoked religious reference through conventional and unprecedented terms:
- The Inaugural Benediction delivered by Episcopal Rev. Luis Leon was the first inaugural prayer specifically inclusive to gay members of America’s society in discussing all who are created in the image of God.
- Consistent with his first inaugural address, Obama spoke of “God” in five instances during his second term inauguration address on January 21st, 2013. Though “God” is a contested subject in political discourse, there exist strong ties between faith and the presidential inaugural speeches in the nation’s history. Further, the oath of office includes a pronouncement of faith.
- The President used three Biblical texts in his swearing-in, including that which belonged to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
- The National Cathedral hosted an interfaith inaugural prayer service on January 22, wherein the President’s orations were likened to a preacher. Three rows were filled with the clergy of 23 different national faith communities, while prayers were spoken in languages comprising Arabic, Hebrew and Spanish.
God in the Inaugural Address
Within the full inauguration speech, Obama said that freedom is god’s gift which much be secured by the people of earth. Before his closing blessings, he links God to three issues pressing all people on earth; protection of the environment and its peoples, the disparity of opportunity and economic fairness between the rich and the poor, and the clarification that the presidential oath is one made to God and country, rather than to any party or faction.
These five passages from the inaugural address fully excerpt the President’s references to God:
- Today we continue a never-ending journey, to bridge the meaning of those words with the realities of our time. For history tells us that while these truths may be self-evident, they have never been self-executing; that while freedom is a gift from God, it must be secured by His people here on Earth. The patriots of 1776 did not fight to replace the tyranny of a king with the privileges of a few or the rule of a mob. They gave to us a Republic, a government of, and by, and for the people, entrusting each generation to keep safe our founding creed.
- For we, the people, understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it. We believe that America’s prosperity must rest upon the broad shoulders of a rising middle class. We know that America thrives when every person can find independence and pride in their work; when the wages of honest labor liberate families from the brink of hardship. We are true to our creed when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else, because she is an American, she is free, and she is equal, not just in the eyes of God but also in our own.
- We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms. The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it. We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries – we must claim its promise. That is how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure – our forests and waterways; our croplands and snowcapped peaks. That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God. That’s what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared.
- My fellow Americans, the oath I have sworn before you today, like the one recited by others who serve in this Capitol, was an oath to God and country, not party or faction – and we must faithfully execute that pledge during the duration of our service. But the words I spoke today are not so different from the oath that is taken each time a soldier signs up for duty, or an immigrant realizes her dream. My oath is not so different from the pledge we all make to the flag that waves above and that fills our hearts with pride.
- Thank you, God Bless you, and may He forever bless these United States of America.
Another passage pertaining to peace and the security of all people prizes engagement of the other as a pathway to resolution:
We will defend our people and uphold our values through strength of arms and rule of law. We will show the courage to try and resolve our differences with other nations peacefully – not because we are naïve about the dangers we face, but because engagement can more durably lift suspicion and fear. America will remain the anchor of strong alliances in every corner of the globe; and we will renew those institutions that extend our capacity to manage crisis abroad, for no one has a greater stake in a peaceful world than its most powerful nation. We will support democracy from Asia to Africa; from the Americas to the Middle East, because our interests and our conscience compel us to act on behalf of those who long for freedom. And we must be a source of hope to the poor, the sick, the marginalized, the victims of prejudice – not out of mere charity, but because peace in our time requires the constant advance of those principles that our common creed describes: tolerance and opportunity; human dignity and justice.
As we’ve seen differing opinions weighed in on the Obama administration’s religious activity, faith communities going forward should continue to seek common ground. Blurring the lines of church and state is not the goal of the interfaith movement’s relationship with government, as political debates will continue to question religious influence on policy. When a U.S. president’s inaugural address expresses intentions undoubtedly shared by the interfaith community, it presents an opportunity. Interfaith assemblies can increasingly secure a place for government to champion actions for peace and the protection of all people. If all peace-seeking faith communities can harmoniously support governmental action for peace and justice, so, too, can government work collaboratively with faith-based coalitions. For more information, visit the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships page for future initiatives during Obama’s second term.
Or, taking an even bigger step – suggest one.
Peace is at once the destination and the path. Hatred is never ended by hatred but only by dialogue, understanding and regard. These convictions come from the deepest beliefs of the world’s religious and spiritual communities.
The Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religion join the Asian-American Coalition of Chicago to present a gathering with representatives of different Metropolitan Chicago area faith communities to lead prayers for Peace, Prosperity and Harmonious Co-existence.
Finding ways to transcend religious divides and foster mutual understanding and respect between people will continue through this service on February 23 at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare Grand Ball Room, sections F-G-H.
You are invited:
When: Saturday, February 23, 2013, 4:00 PM – 5:30 PM
Where: Hyatt Regency O’Hare (Grand Ball Room – Section F-G-H)
9300 W. Bryn Mawr Avenue, Rosemont, IL 60018
(Parking at Hyatt Regency O’Hare Hotel Parking lot is complimentary)
For More Information, please contact:
Rajinder Singh Mago 630-440-7730
Dr. Mary Nelson 312-629-2990
Dr. Nguyen-Trung Hieu 773-307-5035
by Yonatan Neril
from The Huffington Post
The Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison tells the following story: A young girl with a bird in her hands went to a wise person. The child asked the wise person, “Is the bird in my hands alive or dead?” If the answer was “dead,” she would open her hands. If the answer was “alive,” she would close her hand and kill the bird. The wise person, sensing her intention, responded, “I cannot say whether the bird is alive or dead, but I can say that the fate of the bird is in your hands.”
Today we have in our hands not one bird, and not just all birds, but all living beings on our planet, including 7 billion human beings.
I grew up on an acre of land in California with a large orchard and organic garden. In my BA and MA studies with a focus on global environmental issues, I conducted research in India on renewable energy and in Mexico on genetically modified corn. I came to see first-hand global environmental changes that humanity is effecting on this planet. Following these studies and research, I studied for a number of years in a rabbinic program. Because of my environmental background, I encountered traditional Jewish texts from a particular lens, and realized that my own tradition offers profound teachings that relate to environmental sustainability. I also came to realize that other faith traditions — Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and others — also speak deeply about the roots of and solutions to our environmental challenges. Based on this understanding, I founded The Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development to access the collective wisdom of the world’s religions to promote co-existence and environmental sustainability through education and action.
by Simran Jeet Singh
from State of Formation
As a Sikh-American, I am absolutely heart-broken.
As soon as news broke about the massacre in Wisconsin, my parents called me to make sure I was safe. Our conversation was eerily similar to the moments immediately after 9/11.
After making sure I was safe, they asked me to be careful walking around the streets of New York City. They pointed out that: “You never know what someone might do.”
While I accepted their advice, their words crushed me.
As a Sikh, I believe that people are inherently good. Our faith instills a sense of perpetual optimism, and our traditions teach us to always make the best of a tough situation.
Fear and negativity are foreign to our vocabulary. Sikhs are not a God-fearing people; we are God-loving.
The commitment to love and optimism shapes the way that Sikhs interact with their societies, and I’m concerned that becoming cynical and negative might lead us down a slippery slope.
So I am making a conscious decision. I am refusing to accept that human beings are malicious and hateful, and I am rejecting the notion that we need to live in fear.
by John Bryson Chane
from The Washington Post
As Egyptians come to terms with the near-sweep of the Muslim Brotherhood in their new government, no one is more apprehensive of what this new government means than Egypt’s minority Christian population. The new president, Mohamed Morsi, has promised protection for minorities, but Coptic Christians in Egypt are still nervous about the future. And they are not alone. In countries across the Middle East, life for religious minorities is often uncertain; and as the violence of the Arab Spring continues, these groups remain at risk of persecution and discrimination.
But a gathering of Christian and Muslim faith leaders in Beirut last month gives me hope that religious leaders can play a role in speaking up for minority religions and negotiating conflicts between groups. The symbolism of holding such a meeting in Beirut is resonant and powerful. For Protestants and Catholics to come together with Shi’ites and Sunnis in a city so often shredded by sectarian violence sends a powerful message to faith communities and the world.
by Tom Odula
from The Huffington Post
NAIROBI, Kenya — Kenyan clerics across the religious divide vowed Tuesday to not allow sectarian violence to erupt following attacks on churches over the weekend that killed at least 15 people.
The Inter-Religious Council of Kenya said Muslims will form vigilante groups alongside Christians to guard churches in Kenya’s North Eastern Province, where the latest attacks occurred.
Adan Wachu, secretary general of the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims and the chairman of Inter-Religious Council, said the weekend attacks, which are being blamed on an al-Qaida-linked militant group from Somalia, are meant to trigger sectarian violence between Christians and Muslims. Wachu said clerics will actively preach against retaliation to prevent violence from spreading in Kenya like it has in Nigeria, where attacks on churches by a Muslim sect has ignited a spiral of violence.
by Caroline Davies
from The Guardian
On the eve of her historic meeting with the former IRA commander Martin McGuinness, the Queen began her two-day tour of Northern Ireland on Tuesday by visiting a community that suffered one of the most notorious IRA attacks.
The Queen joined Catholic and Protestant leaders in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, scene of the Remembrance Day bombing which killed 11 people and injured 63 others 25 years ago. Crowds gathered in the wind and rain to watch her attend a service of thanksgiving in the Anglican St Macartin’s Cathedral, then cross the road to St Michael’s Roman Catholic church, where she met members of the community.
It was the first time in her 60-year reign the Queen had set foot in a Catholic church in Northern Ireland. But then this visit, probably the most significant she has made to the province, has promised some ground-breaking moments. Chief among them is the much-anticipated meeting between McGuinness, the Sinn Féin deputy first minister, and the Queen, the ultimate symbol of British rule in Ireland
Arts and Culture Bring Peace and Reconciliation To Multi-Religious and Multi-Ethnic Communities in Sri Lanka
by Iromi Dharmawardhane
The arts and culture can be powerful catalysts in bringing about reconciliation within the hearts of individuals as well as between communities, changing who we are and how we relate to each other. Reconciliation through the arts and other cultural mediums can occur in two ways: firstly, a victim of war may find it easier to express one’s pain – including one’s remorse – through aesthetic mediums, and secondly, artistic and cultural projects and performances which are a fruit of collaboration between individuals belonging to different communities would lead to the regaining of each other’s trust and respect, understanding each other’s different but equally painful war-time experiences, learning about what is common and valuing what is unique in each other’s cultural heritage, and at last recognizing each other’s interdependence.
The arts, whether it is through music, painting, poetry, prose, song, dance, film, photography, theater, or puppetry, can be a vehicle for truth, dialogue, and inter-cultural understanding for communities who speak different languages in nations where communal relations have been battered by the circumstances of war. Sri Lanka has seen several outstanding examples of how the arts have a great part to play in the national reconciliation process. An extraordinary concert was organized and directed by Mrs. Arunthathy Sri Ranganathan on March 6, 2012 in Sri Lanka where an orchestra comprising 100 young musicians from all districts of Sri Lanka performed in unison, playing a variety of Oriental and Western instruments. This talented and large assembly of musicians from diverse backgrounds conveyed a convincing and memorable message of “unity in diversity”.
The Aru Sri Art Theatre troupe founded by Mrs. Arunthathy Sri Ranganathan to promote inter-ethnic harmony rendered a captivating performance of the dance drama Sri Ram at the International Ramayana Festival in Bintaan, Indonesia on April 12 – 13, 2012 and in Singapore on April 14. They also presented scintillating performances of classical compositions on Hindu themes such as Bharathanatyam and the Cosmic Dance of Shiva which were performed by Sri Lankan dancers of different ethnicities and religions. The conciliatory power of the performing arts in drawing different ethnic groups together was never so vividly and vibrantly depicted. Aru Sri Art Theatre offers audiences across Sri Lanka and overseas contemporary interpretations and innovative productions of rich historical and cultural lore, while retaining the purity of the traditional performing arts. Sri Lankan theater and dance companies and associations, in this way, can organize dance symposiums to celebrate and bring together the different dance types in the Sinhalese tradition (such as Upcountry dances, Low Country dances, Sabaragamuwa dances, and folk dances) and the Tamil tradition (such as bharatanatyam, kathakali, and naddu koothu and other folk dances).
Sri Lanka held the Interfaith Music Festival (a first in Asia) in February 2012 which was organized and created by the Mother Sri Lanka Trust and The Art of Living Foundation. Children from across the island came together to perform Buddhist, Hindu, Christian, and Islamic chants and songs on one stage. The highly-praised Jaffna Music Festival was held in March 2011 where hundreds of local folk artists from all over Sri Lanka as well as international folk artists performed in Jaffna in celebration of the unique and diverse traditional musical heritage of Sri Lanka and the world. This event was organized by the Sewalanka Foundation with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Aru Sri Art Theatre, and Concerts Norway.