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World Parliament of Religions: Advancing Interfaith Understanding, Harmony, and Respect

The World Parliament of Religions is a global interfaith gathering that brings together people from different religious, indigenous, and secular belief systems to promote interfaith understanding, harmony, and respect. The upcoming Parliament, which will gather Christians, Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists, Hindus, Scientologists, Bahais, Zoroastrians, and others, including people from 200 religious, indigenous and secular belief systems representing more than 80 nations at McCormick Place in Chicago on August 14-18, will explore the theme “A Call to Conscience: Defending Freedom and Human Rights.” This theme is aimed at exploring how religious traditions stand up for freedom and rights based on the dignity we share as human beings.

The Parliament is a setting where all are invited to witness their own religious tradition and exhibit deep respect for others’ beliefs. It is about creating harmony, not unity or trying to create one world religion. It is never about proselytizing. Instead, good manners, such as listening, being kind, and respecting others, are some of the key entry points to every encounter at the Parliament.

At the Parliament, attendees live out the belief that all people are created in the image and likeness of God. They engage in dialogue, not debate, listening to understand. Attendees learn to respect others’ beliefs as they share their own. This is a powerful way to promote interfaith understanding, harmony, and respect.

The Parliament’s groundbreaking document “Towards a Global Ethic: An Initial Declaration” is a testament to its commitment to interfaith understanding. This document outlines the principles of a global ethic that is based on the belief that all religions share a common set of values and principles. It calls for a commitment to non-violence, respect for life, solidarity, a just economic order, and equal rights and partnership between men and women.

The upcoming Parliament is an opportunity for people of all faiths to come together and learn from each other. We encourage our 5,000 members of the I.M.F.C. to consider joining other men and women of faith from around the world who will be attending the Parliament.

The Parliament is rooted in history. The modern interfaith movement can be traced back to the 1893 Parliament of the World’s Religions held as part of the Columbian Exposition (World’s Fair) in Chicago. Hosted at the Art Institute of Chicago, this gathering was unprecedented in size, scope, and purpose. During the convening, a little-known Hindu monk from India, Swami Vivekananda, transformed that gathering of religious leaders from around the world into a phenomenon that sparked a movement that continues today.

In conclusion, the upcoming World Parliament of Religions is a powerful opportunity for people of all faiths to come together and learn from each other. It is a chance to promote interfaith understanding, harmony, and respect. We encourage everyone to attend this historic event and to become part of the interfaith movement that is changing the world.

For more information on the World Parliament of Religions, visit

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