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Since 1993, the Parliament of the World’s Religions has convened every five years in a major international city (Chicago 1993, Cape Town 1999, Barcelona 2004). Sponsored by the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions, the 2009 Parliament took place in Melbourne, Australia. A multi-religious, multi-lingual, and multi-cultural city, Melbourne offered an ideal location for the 2009 Parliament. Culturally vibrant and global in vision, Melbourne and Victoria are home to indigenous and Aboriginal spiritualities as well as the major world religions – Baha’i, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Sikhism among others. Over 10,000 participants came to Melbourne for the Parliament. The 2009 Parliament turned worldwide attention to Melbourne as a destination city with international appeal. The Parliament continued for seven days with approximately 450 events including keynote addresses, seminars, conferences, debates, performances, concerts and exhibitions.

Parliament participants worked with others and within their own traditions to craft faithful responses to:

  • indigenous reconciliation
  • global poverty and global warming
  • environmental care and degradation
  • education of the young and the challenges of social disengagement
  • voluntary and forced migration
  • artistic expression and spirituality and
  • the value of sports

In today’s world, understanding between people of different traditions is not optional. It is essential. The 2009 Parliament gave people of faith, spirit and goodwill new reason to say that peace is still possible.

The Australian Context

Melbourne has demonstrated collaboration among its religious communities through inter-religious councils, school programs, and solidarity in times of stress and crisis. Melbourne has formed a council that works to ensure ongoing collaboration between religious leaders and police

An active and multi-dimensional city nexus includes government initiatives to support inter-religious engagement and organizations at the community level. Melbourne’s social policy model fosters cohesion and harmony in a multicultural and multi-religious society. The 2009 Parliament showcased Melbourne’s practices and policies designed to assist in integrating immigrants and refugees.



Within Australia, aboriginal reconciliation issues are pressing. The Parliament provided the opportunity to engage these issues within a larger context. Those gathered had the opportunity to explore new approaches to aboriginal reconciliation through dialogue with indigenous peoples from other countries. Participants at the 2009 Parliament, also had the opportunity to explore the themes of sustainability and global climate change through the lens of indigenous spirituality.


More on Australia

Australia is a vast country of nearly three million square kilometers, stretching from the tip of tropical Cape York Peninsula in the Coral Sea down to the cold wilderness at South East Cape in Tasmania, from the beautiful beaches and semi-tropical forests of Cape Byron to the arid Steep Point in Western Australia by the Indian Ocean. For more than 60,000 years over 250 distinct Aboriginal groups lived in a sophisticated society harmoniously connected to every parcel of their sacred land. Today, most Australians live on the coastline of Australia, between the forests and the beaches, where the climate is warm in the summer and temperate in the winters. In the interior Australia is a vast desert, home to the ‘Red Centre' and some of the most dramatic and barren country on Earth.

Australia became known as the ‘lucky country’ during the twentieth century owing to seemingly endless supply of natural resources including iron ore, copper, gold and natural gas together with cattle and sheep that were so numerous that people said Australia moved forward “on the sheep’s back!” The excellent educational opportunities in Australia has ensured Australia’s success in scientific and cultural achievements, boasting Nobel Prize winners, Booker Prize winners, Academy Award recipients and everything in between.

The accommodating weather and striking landscapes has made Australia a favorite destination for international and domestic holiday-makers, ensuring Australia’s tourism industry is a vital part of the local economy. The fine weather and high standard of living is also responsible for Australia’s love affair with sports of all kinds.

If you have never visited Australia, this conference provides you with the perfect opportunity. Be sure to set aside at least a few weeks to see some of our wonderful country. From the magic of the city of Sydney and its Opera House and Harbor Bridge, to the spiritual heartland of native Australia at Uluru and the Olgas in the ‘Red Centre’. From the Tuscan-like hills and vineyards of Victoria, to the cultural, entertainment and gastronomic capital of Melbourne. From the breathtaking beauty of the wilds of Kakadu in the north, to the pristine white sands of the surf beaches of the central and northern coasts of Australia, the Whitsunday Islands and the famous Great Barrier Reef. There is too much of Australia to enjoy on a single visit, so we encourage you to start your love affair with our country now!

About Melbourne, Victoria

Melbourne, the capital city of Victoria, Australia has a rich diversity of cultures, languages and religions. There are more than 180 languages spoken in and around the city, with 10 percent of the population speaking a language other than English at home. More than 100 different religions and faiths are practised by Melbourne residents.

There is always something exciting happening in and around Melbourne, be it a festival of one of the world’s faiths, special days of religious significance, a world-renowned sporting event, an exciting arts festival or a conference of leading thinkers.

Melbourne is the events capital of Australia, matching world-class facilities and unique experiences with a warm and cosmopolitan community. Within an hour’s drive of the city you’ll find landscapes of immense natural beauty including pristine beaches and mountains, historic towns and boutique wineries.


Daily Youth Sessions & Workshops

At the 2009 Parliament, the Daily Youth Sessions and Workshops were the engine of the Youth Program and provided loads of opportunities to listen and be heard.

The interactive workshops accompanied each session and took place on the same day as the session.

At the 2009 Parliament, all Sessions started at 11.30am.

At the 2009 Parliament, all Workshops started at 2.30pm.


Mother Nature Doesn't Do Bailouts – Friday, December 4th

The environment is in crisis, and no other generation will be more affected by this crisis than today's younger generation. So what can you do at home, in the workplace and in your own faith communities to minimize the impact of this global environmental reality?

The 2009 Parliament addressed what particular faith communities around the world are doing to actively look after the environment and what individuals could do at home or on the job to make a difference.

Speakers included Miriam Pepper (Secretary, Australian Religious Response to Climate Change), Alana Smith (National Vision Generation Director, World Vision Australia), Stuart Hall (Lead Architect, Tasmanian Baha'i Centre of Learning), Josh Stanton (Rabbinical student, Hebrew Union College), Isobel Arthen (Environmental Activist and Member of Earthspirit Community), Tony Le-Nguyen (Community Development Coordinator, Quang Minh Buddhist Temple).

Facilitated by Nathan Hunter and Rinchen Norbu, Youth Committee, 2009 Parliament of the World's Religions


Talking' ‘Bout My Generation – Saturday, December 5th

Our parents grew up in a very different world than the one we are living in now. Some in a very different country than the one we live in now. With the progress of society comes change and with that change comes challenges. Add religion, culture and a move to foreign lands to the mix and the challenges become even more complex. At the 2009 Parliament, participants heard the stories of young people and their parents from Buddhist, Jewish, Muslim and Sikh backgrounds as they shared how they were able to navigate the challenges between the generations.

Speakers included Manny Waks (Jewish), Heba Ibrahim (Muslim), Mala Wijenayake and Shakila Wijenayake (Buddhist), and Kuldeep Singh and Tej Kaur (Sikh).

Facilitated by Anna Hutchens and Alice Chew, the Centre for Multicultural Youth


Removal: The Indigenous Reality – Sunday, December 6th

At the 2009 Parliament, participants listened to the stories of Aboriginal Australians, Native Americans and the indigenous people of Nagaland about removal and the impact it has had on them and their community, and how it has manifested itself in today's society.

Speakers included Melissa Brickell (Coordinator Aboriginal Partnerships, MacKillop Family Services), Darlene St. Clair (Bdewakantunwan Dakota), Visopiano Sanyu (Nagaland) and Leo Killsback (Northern Cheyenne).

Facilitated by Mathew Crane, Jim-baa-yer Indigenous Unit (Victoria), Centre for Indigenous Education and Research, Australian Catholic University, Kevin Locke, Lakota elder

A Workshop was also included in collaboration with the Ethnic Youth Council


Does the Media Have Faith? – Monday, December 7th

It's fair to say that religion does not get a good rap in the media. Nine times out of ten the story is negative. But where does the responsibility lie in changing the way the media reports on religion? At the 2009 Parliament, attendees heard from journalists, young religious people in the public sphere and religious leaders on where the change needs to take place and who needs to take the first step.

Speakers included Nasya Bahfen (Journalist, ABC Radio), Anna Halafoff (Researcher for the UNESCO Chair in Interreligious and Intercultural Relations, Asia Pacific), Rabbi Ralph Genende (participant, Religious Leaders Media Training), Nazeem Hussain (Comedian, Salam Cafe), Barney Zwartz (Religion Editor, The Age), Erin Williams (Media Coordinator, Interfaith Youth Core, Valarie Kaur, Filmmaker).

Facilitated by Peter Kent, Strategic Counsel, Porter Novelli


Sports as a Tool for Peace – Tuesday, December 8th

We all know the Middle East is a troubled region. But how often do we hear good news about the Middle East? Not often enough. Well, thank goodness for the Australian Football League (AFL) and the 2008 AFL Peace Team. In this session, attendees heard the inspirational stories of players, the coach, and the people who made it possible for 30 young men from Israel and Palestine to come together for the sake of Aussie Rules football and peace.

Speakers included Tanya Oziel (Executive Director, the Peres Centre for Peace Australian Chapter), Robert 'Dipper' DiPierdomenico (Match day coach, 2008 AFL Peace Team), Kamal Aboalthom (Palestinian co-captain, 2008 Peace Team), and Nick Hatzoglou (Multicultural Project Officer, AFL).

Facilitated by Michael Korman, Youth Committee, 2009 Parliament of the World's Religions, and Gemma McDonald, Youth Community Organizer, 2009 Parliament of the World's Religions

A Workshop was also included in an offsite footy training clinic collaborated with the AFL

Service Projects

The 2009 Parliament offered many opportunities for Service Projects in the community. These Service Projects promoted action in the community to help others who are in need.

Sacred Heart Mission Market Garden

Friday, December 4th
1:00pm – 4.30pm

Participants volunteered at the Sacred Heart Mission Market Garden and worked side by side gardening in this community market garden.


Samaritan's Purse

Saturday December, 5th
8:00am – 3:00pm

The Black Saturday's bushfires that devastated parts of Victoria this February, killing nearly 200 people, also had a profound effect on Victorians and Australians alike. An amazing sense of compassion and incredible amounts of generosity from all sectors of society were a sight to behold. Participants of this Service Project became part of the relief effort by re-wiring fences on properties damaged by the fires.


Quang Minh Buddhist Temple

Sunday, December 6th
11:00am – 3:00pm

Participants at this Service Project planted trees and helped keep the Temple grounds looking beautiful and also mixed with the local Vietnamese Buddhist community over lunch.



Monday, December 7th
2:00pm – 5:00pm

CERES (the Centre for Education and Research in Environmental Strategies) is an internationally recognized model of a sustainable society located in Brunswick. Participants of this Service Project worked together by gardening in this inner-city park.


Lentil As Anything

Tuesday, December 8th
7:00am – 10:00am

Lentil as Anything is a unique vegetarian restaurant run as a not-for-profit community organization and staffed largely by volunteers. Participants of this Service Project were able to work with the staff and also help cook in the kitchens and do some handy-person work around the site.

Youth Plenary

Monday, December 7th
7.30pm – 9.00pm

The Youth Plenary at the 2009 Parliament demonstrated the dedication of young people around the world as they tackled global issues utilizing leadership and creativity. Groups participating in the Youth Plenary included Interfaith Youth Core, Tony Blair Faith Foundation, InterAction and The musical finale included South African Muslim singer songwrite Zain Bhikha and his ensemble, Native American flautists Kevin Locke, didgeridoo player Jeremy Donovan and African-Australian group Kundalila.




Hugh Evans

Director, Global Poverty Project (Aust.)

The Global Poverty Project is a presentation and film that communicates the realities of extreme poverty and what we can do about it, which Hugh is taking around the world.






Platform Youth Theatre

Extract from ‘Faith, Diversity and Difference’ (Aust.)

Platform Youth Theatre is a company that works with young people (16–26 years of age) to make theatre – this means young people are involved in all stages of the process, not just as audience members. ‘Faith, Diversity and Difference’ is the company’s major project for 2009.

Presentations and artistic performances by contemporary local and international artists, organised by the Australian multi- faith youth committee.


Coffee House

The Coffee House allowed Parliament participants, VIP guests, and locals to get to know one another over drinks and live entertainment.

Operating hours: 8.30pm – midnight
Operating days: Thurs, Dec. 3rd, Sat, Dec. 5th, Mon, Dec. 7th, and Tues, Dec 8th

Let Me-ee Entertain You

A Coffee House without entertainment is like Nirvana with no Kurt Cobain, it's just unthinkable!

Live entertainment during the 2009 Parliament included:

Saturday, Dec 4th – Just Dance

Local Melbourne DJ's FLK and Spin-Aphex spinned tunes, golden oldies and soon-to-be classics, to get everyone out of their seats and onto the dance floor.

Monday, Dec 7th – Culture Club

As colourful as Boy George, this cultural extravaganza showcased music and dance from across the globe as Melbourne says, 'Welcome to Australia, mate!'


Kundalila, Anise Khoshmashrab & Behzad Khoshmashrab (Japanese musical group), Sri Lankan dancers, Hau Ohana (Hawaiian/Tahitian group), Penina of le Pasefika (Samoan dance group) and Indian dancers.

Tuesday, Dec 8th – Reggae - Yasus Afari

Direct from Jamaica, Yasus Afari and friends mesmerized with dub poetry and reggae music.

Youth Program Speakers

Kamal Aboalthom

Palestinian co-captain, 2008 AFL Peace Team

Kamal was born in Hebron, Palestine and currently lives in the Tulkarem refugee camp where he studies and plays soccer for Tulkarem FC in the top Palestinian league. This year, he received the best player award. In 2008, Kamal was selected as the Palestinian co-captain of the AFL Peace Team to participate in the AFL International Cup in Melbourne, Australia where he played a huge part in the success of the team. Since returning to the West Bank, Kamal now works as a teacher in the Palestinian Authority. He regularly participates in the Peres Center for Peace sports programs as both a coach for the younger children and as a player. He is also regularly in touch with his fellow AFL Peace Teammates and said that the Peace Team experience in the International Cup was a highlight in his life. Kamal’s dream is to continue playing AFL and being a role model for the game as a coach, player and a strong advocate for peace.


Nasya Bahfen

Lecturer, Radio Journalism, RMIT University


Dr. Nasya Bahfen lectures in the School of Applied Communication at RMIT and works regularly in the newsrooms of ABC Radio Australia and SBS Radio. Her teaching and research interests include radio journalism, Islam and the media, and the use of the internet by young Muslims. Nasya is a committee member of the Islamic Women's Welfare Council of Victoria.


Robert ‘Dipper’ DiPierdomenico

Coach, 2008 AFL Peace Team

A legend at Hawthorn Football Club, Dipper played in five day Premiership sides and four night Grand Finals over a career spanning 240 games. Dipper developed into a national media personality via his work on Channel 7. Then in 2007, he enjoyed one of his proudest moments when he was inducted into the AFL Hall of Fame. Last year Dipper went through a life-changing experience when he volunteered to be the Match Day coach for the 2008 AFL Peace Team. He went to Israel for eight weeks to work with the boys who were up for selection, then in July he travelled to Israel to train the 30-man team. Dipper is now heavily involved with the AFL as the National Ambassador for their junior development program, Auskick, where his role includes educating Australia’s youth about Australian Rules Football which takes him to every corner of our nation. He is also one of National Australia Bank’s National Ambassadors and is involved in a variety of activities to promote the brand and their involvement In Australian Rules Football.


Miriam Pepper

Australian Religious Response to Climate Change

Miriam Pepper is a Christian environmental activist, working to build environmental awareness and action within and across communities of different faiths and of none. She is especially passionate about the interconnections between ecological integrity, justice and peace, and about the blossoming of relationships that comes about through shared initiatives and projects. She worships at Maroubra Junction Uniting Church in Sydney, home of grassroots environmental initiative Project Green Church, which is also now part of the growing South East Climate Action Coalition. She is a founding member and secretary of multi-faith network the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC), and is also active in the Faith and Ecology Network. Miriam has a PhD on “Christianity and Sustainable Consumption: A Social Psychological Investigation? from the University of Surrey, UK.


Rabbi Ralph Genende

Born in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), Rabbi Genende grew up in South Africa where he served both a congregation and the Beth Din (Jewish Religious Court) in Johannesburg. In the late 1980s, Rabbi Genende relocated to Auckland with his family. For ten years Rabbi Genende was Senior Rabbi to the Auckland Jewish Community, during which time he also served as President of the Council of Christians and Jews before moving to Melbourne in 1997. Rabbi Genende has a Master’s Degree in Counseling, and is Senior Rabbi to the Australian Defense Forces. He served as a Congregational Rabbi and College Rabbi at Mount Scopus College for ten years and was appointed in 2007 as the first full-time Rabbi in five years to the Caulfield Hebrew Congregation which is now undergoing an energetic renewal. He is an Executive Member of the Rabbinical Council of Victoria, the Council for Christians and Jews and a member of the Victorian Premier’s Multi-faith Advisory Group.

The After-Party Sessions

Legacy and Young People

When put in the same sentence, the words 'legacy' and 'young people' appear to be an obvious oxymoron. You're thinking legacy, which makes you think of war, which makes you think of your nana and pop, which makes you think of the end of life. How do young people fit into this death puzzle? Well, quite easily really. At the Legacy Sessions for Young People at the 2009 Parliament, young participants scrapped all thoughts of war and death and focused on the dazzling brilliance of the future of interfaith.


The After-Party: Session 1 – Monday, Dec 7th @ 4.30pm

The First Session looked at what has already happened around the world for young people in interfaith circles and explored lessons learned and identified any gaps.


The After Party: Session 2 – Tuesday, Dec 8th @ 4.30pm

The Second Session explored the potential for young people to be the drivers, contributors, and participants in activities, individual initiatives or organizations that they themselves wanted to get involved with as young people interested in interfaith work.

Artists and Musicians

Performers at the 2015 Parliament include:


Agape International Choir

A multiethnic group with an average roster of 200 members, the Agape International Choir began with a 30-voice holiday season presentation in December of 1988. With the combined writing and composing talents of music director, Rickie Byars, and founding minister, Rev. Dr. Michael Beckwith, the choir, early on, began performing original Beckwith/Byars compositions. As the choir has developed and grown in membership, so has the complexity of Rickie Byars's vocal and instrumental arrangements. Over the past six and one-half years, Agape Choir music has become known for its signature sectional harmonies, counterpoint, tempo-patterns, devotional power, and energetic enthusiasm.



Zain Bhikha

Zain Bhikha, born in Pretoria, South Africa is a singer-songwriter who achieved fame as a performer of nasheed songs. Tied to other prominent Muslim entertainers, including Yusuf Islam and Dawud Wharnsby Ali, Bhikha has collaborated with other artists and has released several solo albums as well. He has written several religious albums concerning Islam. Bhikha may best be known outside of the Muslim community along with several backup vocalists and a drummer who were cast as the African singing characters in the popular Disney movie, The Lion King.




Divya Jain

Divya Jain is an accomplished Indian classical dancer and choreographer. Over last 20 years, she has performed in many prestigious cultural, Interreligious and charity events in India and the US. She performed at the Dharma Music Concert at the 2006 Montreal World’s Religions Congress and the 2007 Monterrey World Religions Congress in Mexico. Divya received a Master of Arts degree in Bharat Natyam, a form of Indian classical dance; and several awards from a variety of institutions. She teaches dance at the Creations Dance Academy in Edison, New Jersey and hosts programs on television and radio stations. She has performed with many actors, artists and musicians from Bollywood. She has exposed over 1,000 students to the richness of the Indian dances, heritage, and culture.



On the evening of Sunday, December 6th 2009, the people of Melbourne, together with visitors from around the world, gathered at the new Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre to experience the beauty of the world’s most sacred music and movement, performed by world-class musicians from many religious and spiritual traditions.

Throughout the seven days of the Parliament, the Arts and Culture program was interweaved with plenary sessions, discussions, conversations and forums. These events included Aboriginal and Indigenous traditional dance and songs, the poetry of Rumi and other mystical poets, religious and spiritual comedy, African drumming, chanting from diverse traditions, fine art exhibitions, major artistic performances and much more. Major galleries and museums in Melbourne also offered special exhibitions and tours around the themes of the Parliament. Cultural visits to Aboriginal sites and centers were a highlight of the program.



Thursday, December 10th, 2009


Obama Team Seeks Enlightenment on Muslim relations

Members of the Obama administration meet with diverse group of religious leaders at the 2009 Parliament. Read Obama team seeks enlightenment on Muslim relations.

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009


Opinion: The Role of Religion in Preserving the Environment

Sheikh Ali Gomaa on the importance of religion in environmental issues. Read The Role of Religion in Preserving the Environment.

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009


Obama Administration Reps meet with many Faiths at PWR - St. Louis Today

Showing openness to diversity in American religion, members of the Obama administration met at the Parliament of World Religions on Dec. 6th with 50 members of multiple faiths. Read Obama Administration Reps meet with many Faiths at PWR.

Banning of Minarets in Switzerland - SBS News

Professor Tariq Ramadan has been visiting Melbourne for this week's Parliament of the World's Religions. Professor Ramadan has told the SBS News he believes the ban on minarets in Switzerland reflects growing discrimination towards Muslim minorities in many western countries. Listen to Banning of Minarets in Switzerland (Podcast, 4:57).

Vatican Urged to Heed Calls for Reform - The Age

The Catholic Church needs another reforming council like the 1960s Vatican II assembly before Rome winds back all the advances it made, one of the world's foremost Catholic theologians said yesterday. Read Vatican Urged to Heed Calls for Reform.

Child Soldier turned Monk wants to Save Planet - The Age

Hsin Tao became a child soldier for the American-sponsored Kuo Min Tang in 1957 as a means of being fed and educated after his father was killed and his mother disappeared. The fighters were forced to retreat from Burma to Taiwan in 1961. He stayed on the island and left the army aged 21. He turned to Buddhism and became a monk in 1973. Read Child Soldier turned Monk wants to Save Planet.

Sun Setting on the West's Dominance - The Age

The epoch of Western dominance is coming to an end, which should reduce the danger of a clash between Islam and the West, a Malaysian academic told the Parliament of the World's Religions, yesterday. Read Sun Setting on the West's Dominance.

Faiths meet at Parliament of World Religions - Reuters

The Parliament claims to be a home for all faiths, but what does this mean? How many religions are represented? Certainly all of what we think of as the "major" faiths: Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Judaism — but also Jains, Zoroastrians and a strong contingency of Native American and other indigenous groups. Read Faiths meet at Parliament of World Religions.

Faiths Join to Stress Vital Challenge of Nuclear Abolition at Melbourne
Parliament of World's Religions - PR Newswire

Buddhist, Christian, Jewish and Muslim representatives joined voices during the Parliament of the World's Religions in Melbourne, Australia, on December 7th, calling for moral leadership by the world's religions in the effort to abolish nuclear weapons. Read Faiths Join to Stress Vital Challenge of Nuclear Abolition at Melbourne Parliament of World's Religions.

Parliament of World’a Religions Hosts Iran - Press TV

Iranian traditions and religious rituals have attracted dozens of visitors at the 2009 Parliament of the World's Religions in Melbourne. The Iranian pavilion offers different catalogues introducing the major religions practiced in the country namely Islam, Zoroastrianism, Christianity and Judaism. Read Parliament of World’s Religions Hosts Iran.

Read Biblical text on Gays within Context: Kirby - CathNews

Openly gay former High Court judge Michael Kirby urged religious people to read Biblical texts in the context in which they were written, pointing in particular to verses that surround the condemnation of homosexuality. Read Biblical text on Gays within Context.

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009


Hinduism Makes its Way to Copenhagen - ABC Religion

An unprecedented assembly of Hindu Spiritual Leaders at the PWR has issued a Hindu Declaration on Climate Change. 'It is a matter of survival,' says the Declaration; 'we cannot continue to destroy nature without also destroying ourselves.' Read Hinduism Makes its Way to Copenhagen.

Interreligious Forum Calls for Nuclear Abolition - Inter Press Service

For the global religious community, the use of nuclear arms is an overwhelmingly important ethical issue for the human family. Thus, nothing less than the immediate abolition of such weapons is needed from the highest levels, said speakers at the Parliament of the World’s Religions currently underway in Melbourne, Australia. Read Interreligious Forum Calls for Nuclear Abolition.

Copenhagen and Melbourne: World Religion - Christian News Wire

Interfaith meetings continue at a great rate all over the world. Many religious leaders will descend at the UN Copenhagen Climate Conference this week. Plus, the Parliament of the World Religions is occurring at the same time in Melbourne, Australia. Read Copenhagen and Melbourne: World Religion.

Faiths Meet to Build Ties Across Religious Divides - BBC News

What happens when an imam, a priest and a rabbi get into a lift together? It may sound like a joke, but it is an everyday occurrence at the world's largest inter-faith gathering - and such unexpected encounters are positively encouraged. Read Faiths Meet to Build Ties Across Religious Divides.

Rich Should Help Poor Nations Pay to Go Green - Sydney Morning Herald

RICH countries must pay some of the bills for developing countries to produce green power as well as cutting their own emissions, the Parliament of the World's Religions meeting in Melbourne will tell the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen Read Rich Should Help Poor Nations Pay to Go Green.

Creed v Greed - an Ethical Charter - The Age

A global economy needs a global ethic in which a fair society and the environment accompany profits in a triple bottom-line for companies, leading theologian Hans Kung said in Melbourne yesterday. Read Creed v Reed - an Ethical Charter.

Kirby Urges Re-reading of Bible on Gays - The Age

Former High Court judge Michael Kirby has told the Parliament of the World's Religions of his experiences with clergy and the topic of homosexuality. Read Kirby Urges Re-reading of Bible on Gays

Kaleidoscope of Religions - The Washington Post

The parliament sees itself as part of a growing global interfaith movement. It celebrates the diversity of religions, always acknowledging that wide differences separate them. Read Kaleidoscope of Religions.

Sri Sri addresses Parliament of World's Religions in Melbourne - IndiaPRwire

“When at a time, these ideals are far from reality, congregations such as this, where people of all faiths gather together, have a great responsibility to ponder on these pressing issues. It is a necessity for the very survival of our planet", said His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, delivering his keynote address yesterday at the inaugural session of the 2009 Parliament of World's Religions in Melbourne, Australia. Read Sri Sri addresses Parliament of World's Religions in Melbourne.

Daily Sketch: World Parliament of Religions - Times Online

The main theme of the Parliament this year is ‘making a world of difference.’ So we urged people to do this by joining the Faiths Act movement which we lead. Our campaign encourages people of faith, from all over the world, to work together in their local communities, towards the Millennium Development Goals. Our particular aim is to help eradicate deaths from malaria. Read Daily Sketch: World Parliament of Religions.

UNAIDS Launches Framework for Partnership with Religious Organizations - UNAIDS

UNAIDS has launched a new strategic framework for partnership with Faith-Based Organizations (FBOs) in its response to HIV at the Parliament of the World's Religions. It is evidence of stronger partnerships between UNAIDS and Faith based organizations. Read UNAIDS launches framework for partnership with religious organizations.

Parliament of the World's Religions Live - ABC Local-Sunday Nights

ABC Local Sunday Nights conducted an interview with Tim Fischer, Katherine Marshall, Venerable Karma Lekshe Tsomo, Sheikh Abdul Aziz Bukhari and Professor Gary Bouma on the topic of the Parliament of the World's Religions. Listen to Parliament of World's Religions Live (MP3).

Monday,December, 7th 2009


Climate's Day of Reckoning Looms

Messages from Melbourne: The Parliament of the World's Religions is sending a 60-metre-long scroll inscribed with thousands of messages of support and hope to Copenhagen. Read Climate's Day of Reckoning Looms.

Probe into Scientology Rejected - The Age

In Melbourne to address the Parliament of the World's Religions yesterday, Mr. Adams, vice president of the Church of Scientology, International, said the former members were throwing mud, hoping some would stick. Read Probe into Scientology Rejected.

Women of Faith a Conflict Breaker - The Age

Jacqueline Ogega speaks on the civil war in Sierra Leone, at a discussion of the impact of women in conflict resolution at the Parliament of the World's Religions yesterday. Read Women of Faith a Conflict Breaker.

Catholic Church Kept Vital Thanks to Migrants - The Age

Without migrants, church attendance and levels of satisfaction would be much lower, Bob Dixon, pastoral projects director for the Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference, told the Parliament of the World's Religions. Read Catholic Church Kept Vital Thanks to Migrants.

A Tale of Two Festivals - Sydney Morning Herald

The Parliament of World Religions is a dazzling display of religion and indeed humanity on parade. Read A Tale of Two Festivals.

Fifth Parliament of World’s Religions - Examiner

Faiths are all adhering to the Parliament’s theme, "Making a World of Difference: Hearing Each Other, Healing Each Other". They do this by sharing their own faith, traditions, practices, and culture. Read Fifth Parliament of World’s Religions.

Tibetan Prime Minister to Address Parliament of World's Religions in Melbourne - TibetCustom

Kalon Tripa Prof. Samdong Rinpoche will address the 2009 Parliament of the World's Religions when he visits Melbourne, Australia, from 7 – 11 December 2009. Read Tibetan Prime Minister to address Parliament of World's Religions in Melbourne.

Peacemaker Role for Rabbi Rosen - Jewish News

Visiting interfaith guru Rabbi David Rosen has revealed that people often question why he would rather spend time making peace between non-Jews than fostering peace among Jews. Read Peacemaker role for Rabbi Rosen.

Sunday, December 6th, 2009


A Parliament for All Faiths - Times Online

Fellows of the International Faith Acts program of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, they are joining up to 8,000 representatives of the world's faiths all meeting in Melbourne this week to discuss the most pressing issues of the age. Read A Parliament for All Faiths.

Greetings From The Parliament of the World's Religions, Part 1 - Beliefnet

Fellows of the International Faith Acts program of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, they are joining up to 8,000 representatives of the world's faiths all meeting in Melbourne this week to discuss the most pressing issues of the age. Read Greeting From the Parliament of the World’s Religions, Part 1.

Muslims Urged to Accept Minorities - The Age

Muslims must tackle injustices and corruption in their own countries before they can point a finger at the West, former Malaysian deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim said in Melbourne yesterday. Read Muslims Urged to Accept Minorities.

Call for Worldwide Ban on Smacking Children - The Age

Smacking children should be made illegal throughout the world, a British child rights activist told the Parliament of the World's Religions yesterday. Read Call for Worldwide Ban on Smacking Children

Saturday, December 5th, 2009


Global Faith Leaders Hope to Give Push to Climate Change Action - Anglican Journal

Many of those who attended the "pray for climate change" service in Melbourne, Australia, on Nov. 29 are also members of the Parliament of the World's Religions, an interfaith event that opened on 3 December and that will be addressing climate change from a spiritual perspective. Read Global Faith Leaders Hope to Give Push to Climate Change Action's.

Parliament of the World's Religions Underway in Melbourne - Bahá'í World News Service

Baha'is from five continents are making presentations at the Parliament of the World's Religions – an event now held every five years in the modern continuation of an initiative begun more than a century ago. Read Parliament of the World's Religions Underway in Melbourne.

A Meeting Point of All Faiths - IslamOnline

Religious and spiritual coexistence is always in a higher plane. In fact, it is not an easy catch! Read A Meeting Point of All Faiths.

Global Interfaith Dialogue Begins - Westender

Australian Government proud to support the Parliament of the World's Religions, taking place in Melbourne Read Global Interfaith Dialogue Begins.

Struggling For The Soul Of Religion: Why The Parliament Of The World's Religions Matters - Huffington Post

"World leaders are listening to us and waiting to see what we have to say." Such was the rallying cry of Dr. William Lesher, Chair of the Parliament of the World's Religions, as he welcomed thousands of religious people from around the world to the opening plenary of the Council's 2009 meeting in Melbourne, Australia. Read Struggling For The Soul Of Religion: Why The Parliament Of The World's Religions Matters.

Religion 'Denied Key Role' in Poverty Fight - The Age

Politicians lack understanding of the role religion plays in the fight against poverty, Katherine Marshall told the opening program of the Parliament of the World's Religions. Read Religion Denied Role in Poverty Fight.

A Market Replete in Articles of Faiths - The Age

Many faiths and belief systems have stalls in the Exhibitors Hall. Read A Market Replete in Articles of Faiths.

Wise, Irrepressible, and a Bit of a Troublemaker - The Age

77-year-old Sulak Sivaraksa, who is in Melbourne for the Parliament of the World's Religions, says he is known by many labels in his home country of Thailand. Read Wise, Irrepressible, and a Bit of a Troublemaker.

Giving Saudi Women a Public Presence - The Age

Overcoming stereotypes requires patience, says Hana Bubshait, who has the rare honor of being a Saudi Arabian woman who occupies the public space. Read Giving Saudi Women a Public Presence.

Women at the Parliament - Sacred Feminine

Honoring the Sacred Feminine at the Parliament of the World's Religions. The Goddess, the sacred feminine, the divine feminine. Read the Narrative Journey of Creation of the Sacred Feminine with Women at the Parliament.

Rudd Accused of Appeasing Malaysia - The Age

Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, who is in Melbourne for the Parliament of the World's Religions, said Mr. Rudd was acting in the interests of diplomacy but was unwise and ignored the importance of ethics and morality. Read Rudd Accused of Appeasing Malaysia.

Copenhagen Climate Change Conference
Parliament of World's Religions ~ Do This - OpEd News

The Copenhagen Climate Change Conference and the Parliament of the World's Religions are urged to take action. Read Copenhagen Climate Change Conference Parliament of World's Religions ~ Do This.

Communion with Divine is the Goal: Sri Sri - Central Chronicle

Spiritual leader and Art of Living Founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar said that the purpose of religion is to bring enlightenment to the individual, happiness to the society and move from limited individual identity to universality and eventually communion with the Divine. Read Communion with Divine is the Goal: Sri Sri's.

Rabbi Saperstein gives Keynote Address at Global Interreligious Conference -Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism

At World Parliament of Religions conference, Reform Jewish leader addresses religious community's role in achieving peace. Read Rabbi Saperstein gives Keynote Address at Global Interreligious Conference.

Australian Rules Football Film following Palestinian-Israeli 'Peace Team' vies for Top Award - Haaretz News

The film "Tackling Peace" is being shown at the Parliament for the World's Religions, Melbourne. The film producer, Mark Radomsky, will be a speaker at the Parliament. Read Australian Rules Football Film following Palestinian-Israeli 'Peace Team' Vies for Top Award.

Australia supports Parliament of World's Religions - ANTARA News

The Australian Government is committed to encouraging mutual respect, understanding and tolerance among different religions and cultures in Australia and across the region. Read Australia Supports Parliament of World's Religions.

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His Holiness Tenzin Gyatso –The XIVth Dalai Lama

Tibetan Buddhist Leader, India

His Holiness the Dalai Lama is the head of state and spiritual leader of the Tibetan people. This Nobel Prize winning peace activist is known for his unswerving commitment to love, compassion and non-violence, and has moved the world with his spiritual teachings on "the universal religion of kindness." Since 1967, His Holiness has traveled and met with adherents, leaders and scholars in over 45 countries and has authored and co-authored more than sixty books.

“Today, more than ever before, life must be characterized by a sense of Universal responsibility, not only nation to nation and human to human, but also human to other forms of life.”

“Whether one believes in a religion or not, and whether one believes in rebirth or not, there isn't anyone who doesn't appreciate kindness and compassion.”


President Jimmy Carter

39th President of the United States of America

Jimmy Carter, 39th President of the United States of America, was born in Plains, Georgia in October 1924. He trained and served as a naval officer, but when Carter’s father died in 1953, he resigned his naval commission and returned with his family to Georgia. He operated Carter's Warehouse, a seed and farm supply company in Plains, until being elected to the Georgia Senate in 1962. In 1971, he became Georgia's 76th Governor.

Carter announced his candidacy for President of the United States on December 12th, 1974. As the Democratic Party nominee, he was elected President on November 2nd, 1976, serving from 1977 to 1981. Significant foreign policy accomplishments of his administration include the Panama Canal treaties, the Camp David Accords, the treaty of peace between Egypt and Israel, the SALT II treaty with the Soviet Union, and the establishment of U.S. diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China. In 1982, Carter became University Distinguished Professor at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, and founded the Carter Center. Under his active guidance, this non-partisan and non-profit Center works to advance peace and health worldwide. Carter is also the author of 27 books.

President Carter was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in December 2002 for "his decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development."

Professor Joy Murphy Wandin, AO

Senior Aboriginal Woman of the Wurundjeri People, Australia



Aunty Joy offered a traditional Welcome to the Land, as is her right and traditional role as senior woman of the Wurundjeri People. She also offered her perspectives on current concerns for Aboriginal Australians.



Thursday, December 3rd

Opening Plenary
7.30 pm – 9.00 pm

Welcome to the 2009 Parliament of the World’s Religions!

The 2009 Parliament opened with a ‘Welcome to Country’ from Joy Murphy Wandin, senior elder of the Wurundjeri people, traditional owners of the land on which Melbourne resides. Through a series of blessings and performances, the world’s diverse religious and spiritual traditions were acknowledged and honored. The urgent call to people and communities of faith, spirit and good will to ‘Make a World of Difference’ in the midst of the pressing challenges facing the global community was heard. 

Professor Joy Murphy Wandin, AO

Senior Aboriginal Woman of the Wurundjeri People, Australia

At the 2009 Opening Plenary, Aunty Joy offered a traditional Welcome to the Land, as is her right and traditional role as senior woman of the Wurundjeri People. She also offered her perspectives on current concerns for Aboriginal Australians.


Dr. Sakena Yacoobi

Dr. Sakena Yacoobi founded the Afghan Institute of Learning, a groundbreaking women-led grassroots NGO that supported 80 underground home schools for girls in the 1990s and continues to work to empower girls, women and the disenfranchised across Afghanistan.





The Opening Plenary took place in Plenary Hall, which is located on the ground level of the Melbourne Exhibition Centre.



Overcoming Poverty in an Unequal World


Poverty Must No Longer Be With Us


The poverty symposium explored how faith communities are meeting the many dimensions of contemporary poverty. The year 2000 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) offer a framework for global action, setting priority goals and targets, but the experience and reflections of faith communities are not fully part of the MDG process. A central Parliament objective is to jolt this situation with new insights and ideas. The challenging agenda of the poverty symposium’s 20 sessions explored the historic shifts from charity and compassion to respect, rights, and equity as drivers of social justice; practical approaches from education and health to finance to healing the earth; provocations and answers to conflict; women as leading partners for successful modern communities; and seizing the opportunity for change in times of crisis. The common thread linking poverty symposium sessions was the search for ideas and paths towards action by faith communities and new forms of partnership, both interfaith and among social actors inspired by faith and the core values of human rights.


A sampling of confirmed programs includes:


Engaging FBOs (Faith-Based Organisations) for the MDGs - Comparative UN Experiences


In 2001, the United Nations agreed to achieve eight development goals – from ending extreme poverty, to promoting gender equality, and attaining environmental sustainability. In this program, representatives from six UN organizations discussed the successes and challenges involved in their outreach to Faith-Based Organizations as they work to achieve these ambitious goals. This session was an opportunity for religious communities to build bridges with multi-lateral organizations in their efforts to bring economic justice to the developing world.


Caritas Australia - Community Development in a multifaith and multicultural environment


Caritas Australia is an official aid and development agency of the Roman Catholic Church. In cooperation with Caritas International, the agency’s mission is to alleviate poverty and to bring justice to the oppressed. This workshop put forward the guiding vision of Caritas Australia, presented a case study of its work in Indonesia, and discussed its ongoing efforts to raise awareness of global injustice within its home country.