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Archive for the ‘religious diversity’ tag

Imam Mujahid Congratulates Rabbi Saperstein

Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, preaches at a Washington, D.C., service in 2002. He says the Ten Commandments continue to be featured artistically in synagogues. Photo courtesy of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.

The Parliament of the World’s Religions Board Chair Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid extends congratulations to Rabbi David Saperstein on his nomination by President Obama to lead the United States Department of State Office of International Religious Freedom. Saperstein who serves as Director and Counsel of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism would become the first non-Christian to take the office now vacant for nine months.

Board Chair Mujahid welcomes the unprecedented move of the Obama Administration to advance a Jewish Rabbi to lead the office first established by the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998.

Mujahid’s congratulatory letter highlights Saperstein’s “admirable record of touching humanity through faith-based justice,” and commends his expert leadership as an example of how progress can be achieved through engaging the guiding institutions.

In addressing the interfaith movement at the 2009 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Melbourne, Australia, Saperstein hosted an engagement session entitled “The State and Religious Freedom,” and was featured prolifically on panels including:

  • Poverty Must No Longer Be With Us with Huruhisa Handa, Jim Wallis, Katherine Marshall, Dr. A T Ariyaratne, Tim Costello, Sulak Sivaraksa and Sr. Joan Chittister
  • Democracy and Diversity in Global Perspective with Anwar Ibrahim, Pal Ahluwalia, Bishop Peter Elliott, Dr. M Din Syamsuddin, and Dr. Barabara McGraw
  • The Role of Religion and Spirituality in the Public Discourse with Archbishop Philip Freier

Designated in Newsweek’s 2009 list as the most influential rabbi in the country and described in a Washington Post profile as “the quintessential religious lobbyist on Capitol Hill,” Rabbi David Saperstein represents the national Reform Jewish Movement to Congress and the Administration as the Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. The Center not only advocates on a broad range of social justice issues but provides extensive legislative and programmatic materials to synagogues nationwide, and coordinates social action education programs that train nearly 3,000 Jewish adults, youth, rabbinic and lay leaders each year.

Read more about Rabbi David Saperstein.

 

 

 

INTERFAITH EVENT FRIDAY: Solidarity Circle for Father Solalinde and the Caravan Opening Doors to Hope

The Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions in partnership with the DePaul University Office of Religious Diversity is convening a special one hour solidarity circle for interfaith leaders to meet Catholic priest, Padre Alejandro Solalinde, and his Caravan Opening Doors To Hope. 
Solalinde is traveling the U.S. with a large group of victimized migrants turned activists who have experienced human rights abuses in Mexico. The story of 70,000 Central American brothers and sisters disappearing over the last few years, while Solalinde has been imprisoned and arrested for his work operating a network of shelters is shocking. We are helping share this story and honor his bravery.

NOTE: This event is being produced to connect university-level Interfaith leaders with Padre Solalinde’s entourage, but we are inviting you as guests of CPWR.

In this hour we will…
-Hear words from Mexico’s 2012 Human Rights Award recipient
Watch a short film documenting the reality of the migrant train in Mexico
-Welcome Amnesty International to recognize the work of Padre Solalinde
-Share our blessings and offerings to the migrant activists
-Extend our wishes for peace and security to the caravan
-Personally connect Chicago’s young interfaith leaders with a hero to a humanitarian crisis

TO ATTEND: All are welcome, but for seat reservations contact molly@parliamentofreligions.org

Cost: NONE

Teaching Children Religious Diversity: A Dilemma?

Image of Eboo Patel’s new book, Sacred Ground: Pluralism, Prejudice, and the Promise of America. Photo from Kirkus Reviews website.

by Eboo Patel
from USA Today

The first time I heard my 3-year-old son say the Lord’s Prayer, I felt like a fraud. We are, after all, Muslim.

When I speak before audiences, one of the most frequent questions I get as the founder of an interfaith youth group is, “How young is too young for children to engage with kids from other religions?”

My answer is to tell the story of how babies are delivered in an American hospital. I imagine an institution founded by Jewish philanthropists, with a Muslim doctor presiding over delivery while a Hindu anesthesiologist administers the epidural and a Catholic nurse helps the mother.

My point is that in this era, the question of age when it comes to engaging religious diversity is moot. We are literally born into a condition of interfaith interaction. Our children will be raised in an environment of religious diversity — from a Mormon presidential hopeful, to Olympic athletes competing in Islamic head scarfs, to the images of a Wisconsin Sikh community mourning after a terrible attack.

Click here to read the full article

Bussy-Saint-Georges, the Town with Built-in Religious Harmony

Photography Credit to Philippe Wojazer/Reuters from the Guardian.

Workmen prepare the European Regional Temple in Bussy-Saint Georges.

by Stephanie Le Bars
from The Guardian Weekly

Hugues Rondeau is the Radical party mayor of Bussy-Saint-Georges, a new town in the Paris suburbs. His taste for “ordered urban space” has led to an innovation: the multi-faith district. On a plot of land just beyond the built-up area, he has authorised the construction of several places of worship.

“Here there will be two Buddhist temples, a mosque, a synagogue, a Chinese evangelical church and an Armenian cultural centre,” said the mayor, a practising Catholic who is convinced that in a secular state the government should not turn a blind eye to religious fact. “Our 30,000 inhabitants are mostly of foreign origin with 45% from Asia,” he said. “We couldn’t deprive them of their religious practice.”

Click here to read full article

From Steeples to Domes, Architecture Reflects Religious Diversity

Photo Credit to John Gillis from The Daily News Journal

The pinnacle of Shri Krishna Pranami Mission Hindu Temple in Christiana.

from The Daily News Journal
by Scott Broden and Doug Davis

Religious architecture is all about helping believers worship.

Whether it comes to church bell towers, steeples and crosses or mosque minarets and domes, the designs are ways for the congregation to keep the faith. The Daily News Journal recently visited a number of these houses of worship throughout Rutherford County to learn how architecture plays a role in their religion.

Located in rural Christiana, the 12,799-square-foot Hindu Shri Krishna Pranami temple completed in 2009 is, on the surface, a stark contrast to the traditional homes and farms that make up this tight-knit community. But it’s that rural quality, that “incredible natural beauty” that made the community an ideal fit for the temple and its followers, according to Vippin Aggarwal, speaking on behalf of Temple President Hasmukhbhai Savalia.

Launching On Common Ground 2.0

OCG 1.0by Whittney Barth

Dr. Diana Eck and the Pluralism Project are updating their award-winning resource to explore the religious diversity of the United States.  The first edition of On Common Ground: World Religions in America was released as a CD-ROM in 1996, providing teachers, students, and scholars with an innovative interactive resource in three parts: “America’s Many Religions,” “A New Religious Landscape,” and “Encountering Religious Diversity.”

The Pluralism Project is now poised to launch On Common Ground 2.0 (OCG 2.0), a web-based version of this time-tested pedagogical structure. OCG 2.0 explores religious diversity through introductions to many of the world’s religions, maps of religious centers in the context of the changing religious landscape of the United States, and essay explorations of the challenges that arise in the context of this new religious landscape.

Like its predecessor, OCG 2.0 highlights the Pluralism Project’s ongoing research into the changing religious demography of the United States and the implications of religious pluralism on public life, religious communities, and private institutions.  These findings are presented in a timely, interactive format suitable for students, educators, clergy, community and business leaders, and citizens interested in understanding the realities America’s multi-religious cities and towns. OCG 2.0 is the product of collaboration among student researchers, staff, and faculty. Ryan Overbey, Pluralism Project post-doctoral fellow, serves as the lead technology specialist.

The “America’s Many Religions” section will include essay sets covering fifteen religious traditions and their development in the United States, with select updates to reflect the complexities of a post-9/11 era.  Additionally, a new essay set on Atheism/Humanism will be included to explore the growing presence of these communities in American public life.

The “A New Religious Landscape” section will employ Geographic Information System technology to map the religious landscape of select cities and regions across the country, integrating census data and active links to organizational websites to offer the user a rich and dynamic educational experience. The organizational web links embedded in the maps emphasize the Pluralism Project’s commitment to empowering and encouraging communities to share their own stories.

Finally, the “Encountering Religious Diversity” section will include an updated essay collection that presents a few of the challenges that arise when campuses, hospitals, city halls, and church basements become workshops for religious pluralism.

OCG 2.0 is slated to launch late next year and is made possible by a generous grant from the Lilly Endowment, Inc.  If you have worked with earlier editions of On Common Ground, the Pluralism Project would like to hear your On Common Ground story.  How did you, your community, and/or your classroom utilize this resource? We invite you to share your thoughts with the Pluralism Project by e-mailing staff@pluralism.org or contacting us through Facebook. Want to stay “in the know” on OCG 2.0 updates? Follow us on Twitter @pluralismproj.

Let your story be part of 2.0.

Whittney Barth is the Assistant Director of the Pluralism Project at Harvard University

Sitting in the Heart of the World

by Ellen Grace O’Brian
Vice-Chair, CPWR Board of Trustees

As a practitioner of yoga, I was aware of the Parliament of the World’s Religions as the watershed interreligious event that opened the door to yoga in the West through Swami Vivekananda’s dynamic presence at the first convening in 1893. What I didn’t know was that beginning in 1993, this powerful global event was now occurring approximately every five years and was open to everyone with an interest in the interreligious movement. Although I had heard about the Parliaments in Chicago (1993) and South Africa (1999), it wasn’t clear to me how to participate and that it was something that could so profoundly affect my life and my community.

Curiosity has a way of helping us discover doorways that we didn’t know existed. In 2002, I learned about a local group of people meeting in someone’s home to talk about the next Parliament event slated to convene in Barcelona in 2004. Between homemade soup, networking, and sharing about why we thought it could make a difference to bring people together, I found myself on the path to the fourth global parliament event. This local connection with people who had been to other parliaments, and those who, like me, were just learning about it, was invaluable. It provided inspiration as well as information. Little did I know I was already engaged in one of the hallmarks of the Parliament: bringing people together in ways that empower and equip them to solve the problems we face in our world today.

When I checked in at my first Parliament in Barcelona, I was overwhelmed by the abundance of programs and events, the sight of so many people from different religious traditions and far reaches of the globe engaging in dialog, and the inspiration that pervaded everything from the meeting place to the program book. After a time of prayerful consideration about what I should chose amidst such rich opportunity, I dove in. One of the things I decided to participate in was a dialog with others who were concerned about the rise of religiously motivated violence in our world.

The dialog group I was assigned to included a Hindu man from India; a Muslim woman from Egypt, a Christian seminary student from the US, a Catholic woman from Rome, and a Lutheran man from Switzerland. We were provided with some questions to reflect upon and discuss. Why was this issue important to us? What in our own experience had contributed to why we cared about violence in our world? What could we see ourselves doing we returned home to our own communities that would make a difference?

As I sat with this group of people from religions, countries, and viewpoints different from mine, something became apparent that changed everything for me: we all shared a deep concern about this issue and a belief, grounded in our diverse traditions, that peaceful change was possible. The experience of connection across differences was profound, I felt like I was sitting in the heart of the world. We were inspired to return home and engage in action. Then it came to me. I live in a large, diverse, metropolitan area. I realized that if people who were concerned about the rise of violence in our own community gathered together, that group would look very much like the one I was with in distant Barcelona. And, with a similar rich diversity, we could find ways together to begin to solve this problem.

When I returned home with this inspiration from the Parliament, I reached out and was joined by leaders from different faith communities, educational institutions, government and nonprofit organizations, students and community members who met to convene a community nonviolence conference. Inspired by the Parliament model, hundreds of people have attended these conferences over the years and brought forth their own commitments to action.

Whenever I think about what the Parliament does, or what it means to attend such a global gathering, I remember my experience of sitting in the heart of the world. And I think about what happens when people come together and share their deepest concerns and aspirations for a peaceful world.

Rev. Ellen Grace O’Brian is the Spiritual Director of the Center for Spiritual Enlightenment, a ministry in the tradition of Kriya Yoga. She was ordained to teach in 1982 by Roy Eugene Davis, a direct disciple of Paramahansa Yogananda. She is the author of several books on spiritual practice and is the editor of the quarterly magazine, Enlightenment Journal.

Rev. O’Brian is the Founder of Meru Seminary, training leaders in the Kriya Yoga tradition, as well as Founder and Chair of the community nonprofit educational organization, Carry the Vision, which provides educational programs in nonviolence. She received the 2008 Human Relations Award from the Santa Clara County Office of Human Relations recognizing her contribution to positive human relations and peace in Santa Clara County. She serves as a member of the Advisory Council of the Association for Global New Thought; on the Executive Board of the International New Thought Alliance; and as Vice-Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions.

Pluralism Project hosts photo contest for religious diversity

The Pluralism Project at Harvard University is hosting a photo contest highlighting religious diversity in the United States.

From the Pluralism Project website:

We invite you to participate in our second annual Pluralism Project Photo Contest. We are looking for high-resolution digital images that convey the vibrancy of religious diversity in the USA. We are particularly interested in images in the following categories:

  • Religious practices and rituals
  • Religious centers, including festivals, center openings, and parades
  • Participation of religious groups in American civic life
  • Interfaith encounter or social action
  • Women’s leadership and participation
  • Emerging leadership within Muslim and Sikh communities
  • Historic and present day images of the Atheist/Humanist, Bahá’í, Confucian, Native American, Shinto, Taoist, and Zoroastrian communities in the US

One grand-prize winner will be selected; the winning photographer will receive a $250 cash prize and an extended exposé in the spotlight on our homepage, www.pluralism.org.

Click here for full details

 

From CD-ROM to Blogosphere: Religious Pluralism Comes Home

From State of Formation

In February of 1998, I returned to the wintry campus of St. Olaf College, a small Christian liberal arts school in rural Minnesota, after a five-month global study trip. It was a bewildering reverse culture shock back into my Norwegian Lutheran heritage; the familiar had changed. I longed to have the world back at my frozen fingertips.

I eagerly enrolled in a world religions course taught by Dr. Anantanand Rambachan, who would later become the first non-Christian (Hindu) chair of the Religion Department. For course curriculum, he was using a CD-ROM (yes, that was cutting edge technology in 1998!), On Common Ground: World Religions in America,produced that year by The Pluralism Project at Harvard University. Sitting at a clunky green Mac in the basement computer lab, I discovered that the religious landscape of India was also now at home in Minnesota…Montana…and Massachusetts!

Click here to read entire article.

Westender posts article on the Parliament

The Brisbane-based Westender has published an article on the 2009 Parliament of Religions.  This piece discusses the importance of the Parliament in light of Australia’s remarkable religious diversity.  To read the full article, click here.