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URI Young Leaders Program


URI Voice of Youth
In This Issue
Prayers for Peace in the Middle East
Noteworthy Youth Action Projects
Taking the Initiative on the Environment
Upcoming Interfaith Conferences and Events

Quick Links
Join the Global Youth Network
URI Young Leaders Communications Hub
Contact Us
More about URI Young Leaders Program

URI Young Leaders Program Steering Committee:
Kiran Bali - United Kingdom
Joseph Kigozi - Uganda
Rim Nour - Tunisia
Jahangir Piara - Pakistan
Sam Ruben - USA
Atefeh Sadeghi - Iran
Sarah Talcott - USA
Sharon Vaswani - Philippines
Matthew Youde - Wales / UK
Soroush Zand - Denmark

Dear friends,
During the month of February, the URI Young Leaders Program focused on conducting activities for social justice, sharing information about initiatives and ideas for both individual and community commitments. A live online chat on this topic was also held through the Young Leaders Communications Hub on March 1st in which youth from 8 countries participated: Argentina, Brazil, England, Iran, Pakistan, Scotland, UAE and USA. Click here to read the transcript of this conversation. We are excited to share the following articles from our young leaders about action projects they are organizing in their communities for social and environmental justice, as well as our Young Leader Prayer for Peace in the Middle East.
On Christmas Day, 2008, just after the transformative interfaith gathering of Young Leaders in Mayapur, India, news reached the URI global community about the escalating conflict in the Middle East between Israel and Palestine. Global Council member Tareq Altamimi wrote to us, "Greetings from Bleeding Palestine," calling URI to action to release a statement alerting the world of the increasing bloodshed of innocents and escalation of violence taking place in Gaza. While the URI Global Council wrestled with the right words for this statement as representatives of the global community, the young leaders carried on a virtual conversation, sharing ideas, frustrations, their hopes for change and prayers for peace with one another. Michal Weiner from Israel called for prayer and dialogue, quoting Nasim, a Pakistani youth working for interfaith harmony in her country: "As a human being and a peace worker we have to promote peace and interfaith harmony among the different communities and faiths for coexistence, to stress the resolving of disputes through dialogue." Anas al-Abbadi from Jordan launched a campaign - 1,000 Acts of Peace in the Middle East - calling on Cooperation Circles to organize one small activity for peace, and to send in a report of their actions to the global URI. URI staff circulated a list of relief service organizations that our members could make donations to, in order to get emergency aid into Gaza. One of our youth members, Olivia Damm, a student from University of Edinburgh, joined her Palestinian Solidarity student society to organize a sit-in demanding the university to stop supporting defense contractors. They have also been raising money for aid to Gaza (over $4,000 raised thus far!) and organizing an informative lecture series featuring Israeli and Palestinian human rights activists. These are just some of the many efforts launched by the concerned members of the URI Youth around the world.
Two months later, where do things stand in the Middle East? There is a ceasefire between the two nations, yes, but there is a long road that stretches ahead to heal the deep wounds between nations and communities that this recent breakout of violence has caused. Because of this, the URI Young Leaders have composed a collective prayer for peace in the Middle East, each one listening to his or her heart to speak out a line of this prayer. It is written by youth from Baha'i, Brahma Kumaris, Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Indigenous, Muslim, Sikh, Theosophist and universal spirituality traditions. We would like to share it with the rest of our global community:
Oh Dear Lord: You named Yourself "Assalam" (Peace)Guide your children to find YOU. May peace in the Middle East be as wide as the star-lit skies of its immortal deserts.
And may the love of God reveal itself through each of our individual ways.
May "Waheguru" - the Almighty bless us with vision and courage to walk the path for Peace. By thy grace, may there be peace and goodwill among all people everywhere.
And my heart sings: Allah the Almighty...May the sun radiate your compassionate soul into everybody's spirit.
Oh dear Lord: please give me Serenity to accept the things that I cannot change, Courage to change the ones that I can, and Wisdom to acknowledge the difference.
And this will give me the peace that I can spread around.
Excellent Being, Father of all creation, Counselor of all minds, in your presence I invite all that is fellow humanity, may we from different paths and walks of life recognize that we are all made from one breath.
And that is how we can make peace.
Of that I'm so sure
That we will endure
Cause we have done no sin
...And our blood is pure

My dear Lord: Thank you for the peace we are already living. This beautiful universe is marvelous and perfect as it is. All is Love, all is One.
And may we all accept what we have, listen to one another, react with love and peace in our hearts, speak with care, tolerate and accept the differences.
Oh the people of the Middle East;
May there always be peace within your hearts and always know that you are never alone and that you are being sent love and light every moment of every day.
And may we be grateful for all the blessings.
Holy Spirit, lead us to our true essence, break our illusions, fill our hearts with love for life in your accord, let us remain one with all.

Oh my dear God, May you enrich our hearts with love and peace.
And may these vibrations of peace fly and reach the Middle East, transform the environment, touch the human souls and radiate in the World.
Shall you let the world overstand one another, being compassionate in its purest form, and living through the totality of unconditional love. Ase, Ahoe, Amen, Namaste', Shalom, Peace.
We pray that all people and leaders of the Middle East be awakened to the light of truth. May they be liberated from the bonds of ignorance, fear and suffering.
And that shall be the love to give us the strength to live the peace that is already gifted to us.

We are happy to report on the collaborative and collective action projects URI Young Leaders are organizing around the world. This month, we are blessed with the birth of new URI Cooperation Circles - URI-Sierra Leone and GreenFaith Australia - as well as news about inspiring action projects for environmental and social justice being carried out by members of our Global Youth Network.
  • Birth of URI - Sierra Leone - Training Youth Community Animators

"URI-Sierra Leone, an interfaith meditation team, is a collection of seven members from the Christian, Islam, Judaism, Baha'i, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism faiths in Sierra Leone. URI-Sierra Leone is an outgrowth of URI worldwide. It challenges young people, men and women to:

  • Engage in the resolution of religiously motivated violence with a particular focus on disadvantaged communities in Sierra Leone.

  • Build networks of reconciliation and friendship along religious and social divides.

URI-Sierra Leone was borne out of the desire of a driven team of young men and women who resolve to contribute to the post war reconstruction process in Sierra Leone starting by acknowledging their roles and responsibilities to build bridges across religious and social divides thereby sustaining our hard won peace in Sierra Leone." - Franklyn Koroma, URI-Sierra Leone

Click here for the full article on the URI community website...

For more information, contact: Franklyn Koroma, [email protected]

  • Working Together for Social Transformation in the Philippines - Youth 4 Unity's participation in Kaya Natin! Movement

"...Regardless of whether you are a career oriented professional, or just a kid playing on the street, what makes us all alike is our desire for a trouble-free, happy and peaceful existence. But as Martin Luther King, Jr. said, 'true peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice' and this is exactly what the Kaya Natin! Movement aims to do...

Recently I was privileged to attend the 1st Leadership and Social Entrepreneurship Training Seminar of the Kaya Natin! Movement in pushing for Good Governance and Ethical Leadership in our country. But what exactly is this Kaya Natin! Movement, you may ask... Well, in the Philippines, a group of trustworthy and inspiring leaders met and together have created an emerging political movement which aims to bring about social justice in the country..." Click here for link to the full article.

- Sharon Vaswani, Youth 4 Unity of the Peacemakers' Circle CC, Philippines

For more information, contact: Sharon Vaswani, [email protected]

  • Rally and Seminar Against Burning of Girls' Schools in Swat Valley, Pakistan
"About 100 people from different civil society, labor and students organizations organized a rally and a seminar against the burning of the girls' schools in Swat and FATA by Taliban in front of the District Press Club Toba Tek Singh. The participants of the rally were carrying banners asking government to reconstruct the schools and start education facilities for the girls in Swat and FATA areas. Harmony Foundation Toba Tek Singh, Democratic Commission for Human Development (DCHD) Lahore and Toba Tek Singh CC organized the rally.

Later the participants gathered in the courtyard of the District Press Club and speakers stressed on the government not to spare the Taliban as they have deteriorated the law and order situation and have now spread to all parts of the country. The speakers said the government should deal with the matter with iron hands as the education facility is a basic human right of all human beings and nobody can be allowed to deprive them of this right. The extremism was nourished in the patronage of the government and now it is the duty of the government to restore peace in the areas and ensure the provision of basic human rights to the people. The speakers spoke on the importance of the girls' education and how the Constitution of Pakistan ensures this basic right. The participants of the seminar and rally presented a resolution to the President of the Press Club about their concern on burning the girls' school in Swat and FATA...
We have reached this stage of protesting in rallies on sensitive issues after a deep interfaith and social harmony dialogue in our area. The Muslim and Christian friends get together for these kinds of activities. The worker unions, civil society groups, youth groups and women's groups join us in the activities." - Atif Jamil Pagaan, Toba Tek Singh CC, Pakistan
For more information, contact: [email protected]
  • GreenFaith Cooperation Circle, Australia: Linking People of Faith through Ecological Initiatives
"Greenfaith Australia is a new URI Cooperation Circle [approved February 2009]. We began as an organization in August 2008 and are now incorporated with a growing membership. Our purpose is to link people from different faith communities in acting together on ecological themes and issues.
Since we began, we have run two successful eco-interfaith events: 'Water for Life' and 'Spirit into Sustainability.' Water for Life was a three-part seminar series that looked at water from a variety of angles. Firstly, from the perspective of faith traditions with an interfaith panel including Sikh, Muslim, Christian and Jewish speakers who reflected on what water means spiritually and mythologically in their traditions. Secondly, we invited an environmental scientist, journalist and community worker to speak about water from a scientific, political and community action perspective. Our final session was a facilitated discussion on how we can act as people of faith on water issues in our lives and communities.
Our second event, 'Spirit into Sustainability' was held at a major Melbourne Festival called the Sustainable Living Festival. Our program involved story-telling from faith traditions, an interfaith eco-ritual and meditation, art work, live music and a panel showcasing faith communities who are taking ecological action seriously in our region. This was moderated by the religion editor of The Age, our main state newspaper. After the success of these events we are a growing organization and have many hopes and dreams for the coming years. Our next major event will be a pilgrimage tour for those attending the Parliament of the World's Religions in Melbourne this year to come on a pre-parliament journey to the drought affected local towns and rural communities in the Murray-Darling Basin area. We will be connecting with interfaith and indigenous communities and bringing their messages back to the PWR with us. Anyone interested in joining us for htis journey is most welcome. For more info check out our website:
Thank you for welcoming us into the URI Family!" - Elyse Rider, Chair of GreenFaith Australia

This month's Taking the Initiative focus is on the environment. We invite young people to organize environmental projects in your communities and to engage in a live chat online to share your ideas for what people of faith can do to better care for the environment. This year's World Water Day will take place on March 22nd. Our live chat will follow on Sunday, March 29th, at 14:00 GMT / UTC. Details about how to participate in this live chat can be found at the Young Leaders Hub at The Peace and Environment CC in Pakistan offers a wonderful model for a project you could begin in your own community. They have begun the creation of Green Clubs as a way to involve youth in practical actions for conservation and to promote environmental education. "A Green Club is a forum through which students and youth can get guidance and awareness about a clean and healthy environment and can organize themselves in a way to clean and protect the surrounding enviornment. A Green Club is generally comprised of 20-25 youth and students. Every Green Club will prepare its botanical garden in which different plants will be produced and then the club will transplant these at schools and different public places like parks, streets and roads. After completion of the project, botanical gardens will be handed over to school management, who will prepare green clubs for each session and hence this will be a continuous system providing environmental education to young students." For more information about how to start your own Green Club, contact: Liaquat Shahzad, Youth Coordinator, Peace & Environment CC Pakistan, [email protected] , +92-300-4515297.
The Young Leaders Program aims to connect religiously and spiritually diverse young people from around the world, and to develop their capacity to be servant leaders in the areas of interfaith cooperation, peacebuilding, ecological imperatives, human rights, and sustainable just economics. We especially wish to encourage youth participation in regional interfaith conferences, workshops and trainings this year. Here are just a few of the upcoming URI conferences and other interfaith events this year: - URI North American Regional Assembly "The Year of Reconciliation with Self, Others and World," May 7-10, Asheville, NC, USA, For more information, contact: Margi Ness, Regional Coordinator, [email protected] - Interfaith Youth Core 6th Conference on Interfaith Youth Work "Leadership for a Religiously Diverse World," October 25-27, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA, - NAIN Connect 2009: "Experiencing the Spirit in Education: The Challenge of Religious Pluralism", June 25-28, Kansas City, MO, USA, - Parliament of the World's Religions: "Make a World of Difference: Hearing Each Other, Hearing Ourselves," December 3-9, Melbourne, Australia,
On behalf of the Young Leaders Program Steering Committee, I thank you all for your support and participation in building the interfaith youth movement!
In peace, Sarah Talcott Director of Youth Programs [email protected]
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Posted by admin on March 18, 2009

God Is Back: How the Global Revival of Faith Is Changing the World

Monday, April 6, 2009 08:00 AM to 09:15 AM Attend Event

On the street and in the corridors of power, religion is surging worldwide. Can religion and modernity thrive together? What impact will the world's rise of faith have in this century?

Speakers:John Micklethwait, Adrian Wooldridge

Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs
Merrill House
170 East 64th Street
New York, NY 10065-7478

(212) 838-4120
(212) 752-2432 - Fax

Map Click Here

Posted by admin on March 18, 2009


UNU Book Launch and Panel Discussion
World Religions and Norms of War: Exploring the Links
3:30pm to 5:30pm, Thursday, 19 February 2009
Conference Room 7 (CR7), UN Headquarters, New York
2:00pm to 3:30pm, Friday, 20 February 2009
United States Institute of Peace, Washington D.C.

The United Nations University Office at the UN in New York (UNU-ONY) is organizing a book launch and panel discussion entitled “World Religions and the Norms of War” to showcase a recently published volume of the same name. Published by United Nations University (UNU) Press 2009 and edited by Vesselin Popovski, Gregory M. Reichberg, and Nicholas Turner, the book originates from a joint project conducted by UNU and the International Peace Institute, Oslo (PRIO). The event will take place in two locations. The first will be on Thursday, February 19, 2009, from 3:30pm to 5:30pm in Conference Room 7 at the UN headquarters in New York and the second on Friday, February 20, 2009 from 2:00pm to 3:30pm at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington D.C.

Recent armed conflicts - domestic and international - have drawn f resh attention to age-old questions concerning when war can be justified, and what methods and targets are permissible during war. Written by an international team of distinguished specialists in their respective traditions, the book takes the reader through the evolution of attitudes and teachings related to the ethics of war within the world's leading religious traditions, opening up new areas of discussion.

The event aims to explore fresh analyses of when and how world religions justify the use of force and its implications on the explanation of recent conflicts, as well as identify potential policy implications and areas for further research. The importance of examining such discourse arises from the fact that religions continue to be the foundations of human civilization; with their deep ethical roots and significant influence on20human thinking and actions, they are the central anchors of the human consciousness and motivation.

The three editors: Dr. Vesselin Popovski, UNU; Dr. Gregory M. Reichberg, PRIO and Mr. Nicholas Turner, UNU; as well as Dr. Henrik Syse, PRIO, will be presenting at both events. Archbishop Migliore, Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations and Dr. Walter Dorn, Royal Military College, Canada and Dr. Jean-Marc Coicaud, Director of the UNU-ONY (moderator) will be speaking at the New York event. Dr. David Smock, USIP (moderator) and Dr. Marshall Breger, Columbus School of Law; will be speaking at the event in D.C.

UNU’s objective behind this event is to focus on our mandate of generating knowledge on issues of global importance through discussions conducted by expert speakers. The UNU-New York office regularly organizes such events to promote ideas from experts from around the world on the UN platform. We hope to provide an engaging, interactive, and thoughtful experience to all in attendance.

All media are invited to attend. To register and for more information on the event please visit our website

(If you have any queries, please contact: Ms. Ranita Ragunathan on tel: 212-963-
6387 or email: [email protected])

Posted by admin on February 13, 2009

ISSJS Jain Studies Program

International Summer School for Jain Studies ( ISSJS) has been in operation since 2005 and nearly 80 scholars ( faculty and students) from 5 countries and about 18 universities have attend these schools so far.

See the official flyer here

We are now inviting and accepting applications from all parts of the world for ISSJS 2009 . The announcement flier is attached for your information. Detailed information is given on .

The last date for applying is February 14, 2009 . However we are encouraging the applicants to apply as soon as possible

Sulekh C. Jain, PhD

ISSJS Program Director
Houston, Texas, USA
281 494 7656
832 594 8005 ( cell)

Posted by admin on January 18, 2009

North American Interfaith Network (NAIN) Annual Conference

North American Interfaith Network (NAIN)
Annual Conference - NAINConnect '09
June 25-28, 2009
Kansas City, Missouri at Unity Village


Local Hosts: Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council and SpiritPath at Unity Village

Many interfaith organizations provide interfaith education to the general public, and many educational institutions have developed advanced multifaith programs. NAINConnect '09 will bring together representatives of these two environments to inform each other to share stories, ideas and strategies for interfaith education so that we can all become more effective.

The North American Interfaith Network (NAIN) is a non-profit association with membership of interfaith agencies and organizations throughout Canada, the United States and Mexico. Its purpose is to provide communication, understanding and mutual strength among interfaith organizations, agencies and offices of denominations, religious, and educational institutions.


  • OFFER NEW VISION for intensified interfaith communication through programs of dialogue and social action.

  • DEVELOP INTERFAITH GUIDELINES for comprehensive dialogue and action across religious traditions.

  • PROVIDE A COLLECTIVE WITNESS of interfaith diversity through programs and events at regional and continental levels.

  • EXTEND THE GIFTS OF NAIN MEMBERS by increased development of NAINews, NAINet and NAINOnline.

  • FURTHER YOUNG ADULT LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT through interactive education, internships and programs.

We welcome proposals for workshops on exemplary interfaith education programs. To receive a Workshop Proposal Form, please contact Peter Laurence, conference co-chair, at [email protected] The deadline for proposal submission is March 1st.

Conference Co-Chairs:

Susan Cook, Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council Peter Laurence, Education as Transformation


- Unity Village is located ap-proximately one hour from the Kansas City airport (MCI).
- Ground transportation can be obtained from:

LLC: 816-522-3582 (cash only)
BATS: 816-588-4301
American Luxury Limousine: 800-861-1071
Quicksilver: 800-888-8294

CONFERENCE FEES (all meals are included). There is no registration fee for high school or college students.

Registration prior to May 15 - $249
After May 15 - $299

Conference Center (per night)
Single Room $129.50
Shared Room $96.50 pp

Unity Village Motel (per night)
(2) Double beds 1 person $108.80
(2) Double beds 2 people $80.80 pp
(1) Queen bed 1 person $96.20
(1) Queen bed 2 people $77.30 pp

Registration Form

Name __________________________________________
Title ___________________________________________
Organization ____________________________________
Address _________________________________________
City ____________________________________________
State/Prov. ______________________________________
Zip/Postal Code __________________________________

Registration Fee $ _________
Room ___ nights @ ___________
Total Room $ _________
Total Paid $ _________

Check enclosed made payable to Unity Village, or

Charge my credit card

Type of Card (MC, Visa, Amex) ___________________
Card Number ___________________________________
Expiration Date _________________________________

Mail registration form and check or credit card information to:

Attn: SpiritPath Customer Care Department
SpiritPath at Unity Village
1901 NW Blue Parkway
Unity Village, MO 64065-0001

Phone: 866-348-6489
E-mail: [email protected]

Refer to Code:

NAIN G9660625 SPRTRET9 S0043

Posted by admin on January 18, 2009

Dallas Rabbi Jeremy Schneider Emerges as Leader in Muslim-Jewish Dialogue

02:28 PM CST on Saturday, December 13, 2008

By SAM HODGES / The Dallas Morning News
[email protected]

Rabbi Jeremy Schneider spends a lot of time talking to Muslims, and wants other Jews to do the same.

At age 32, the assistant rabbi at Dallas' Temple Shalom has emerged as a national leader in Jewish-Muslim dialogue.

"He has been in the forefront of strengthening relations between our two communities," said Rabbi Marc Schneider, president of the New York-based Foundation for Ethnic Understanding.

Rabbi Schneider – whose office boasts not only diplomas but a neon University of Texas longhorn – was one of 20 clergy who participated in last year's groundbreaking National Summit of Imams and Rabbis.

He was the only rabbi in a National Peace Foundation-sponsored delegation visiting the Muslim Middle East – specifically Egypt and Syria – last June.

At Temple Shalom, he preached against "Islamophobia" on Rosh Hashana, pointedly telling his congregation, "We must learn what Islam truly stands for, not from politicians, not from e-mail forwards, and not from the media, but from Muslims themselves by engaging in dialogue."

Interfaith gatherings

To that end, Rabbi Schneider has organized monthly meetings with five members of his congregation and five from the Islamic Association of Carrollton. He and his wife, Rachel, had a dinner at their home for the group during the Jewish holiday Sukkot.

"I find Rabbi Jeremy to be an amazing person, and a dear friend," said Azhar Azeez, president of the Carrollton mosque, who at Rabbi Schneider's request gave the sermon at Temple Shalom during a service last month. "He's been extremely sincere."

Rabbi Schneider traces his passion for interfaith efforts to growing up in the predominantly Christian suburbs of Houston.

His mother, a teacher, made it a point to educate schoolchildren about Judaism. He visited a church with his best friend and had the friend over for Passover.

"It was second nature," he said. "I thought that's what you do – learn about others' religion and teach them about yours."

After attending Jewish summer camps and spending a high school term in Israel, Rabbi Schneider majored in education at the University of Texas. He decided his junior year to be a rabbi, and after graduation enrolled at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.

There, he got involved in interfaith efforts, and wrote a thesis titled "Jewish-Christian Relations: From Tolerance to Pluralism to Partnership." His thesis adviser was Rabbi Reuven Firestone, author of An Introduction to Islam for Jews and an advocate of Jews and Muslims learning from one another about their faiths.

Rabbi Schneider launched right into interfaith work – both with Christians and Muslims – soon after joining the staff at Temple Shalom, a Reform congregation, in 2006.

Tension in Middle East

While Jewish-Christian dialogue and projects have been going on for decades, Jewish-Muslim efforts are in an early and tentative stage, impeded by a strained, often violent political situation in the Middle East.

"It's the beginning of a marathon, not a sprint," said Mohamed Elibiary, president of the Freedom and Justice Foundation in Carrollton, and another Muslim who has spoken at Temple Shalom.

Rabbi Schneider makes plain that the dialogue he fosters is not aimed at changing anyone's faith. Nor is it about wrangling over the Middle East.

Rather, he said, it's about building relationships between Jews and Muslims in North Texas and across the United States, and working through fears to solid knowledge of the other's faith.

Rabbi Schneider argues that the three Abrahamic faiths – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – have much in common, and that extremists have, at times, "hijacked" each of them.

"There is terrorism in the world. There are fanatics in Judaism, in Christianity, in Islam. But if we give in to the fear that they're creating, then they win," he said.

Rabbi Schneider will be honored Jan. 10 by the National Peace Foundation for his interfaith work, and he plans to do more, including forming additional dialogue groups and starting a class on Islam at Temple Shalom.

There, he said, he has found "far more support than pushback," but acknowledges some congregants think he is naïve. Solidly in his corner is Rabbi Andrew Paley – senior rabbi at Temple Shalom.

"He's a terrific pastor and a wonderful teacher," Rabbi Paley said. "I'm praying that his example here will be a real model for people to follow."

Posted by admin on December 27, 2008

Rome: annual Muslim-Catholic talks open

Yesterday, the XI talks between the Pontifical Council for Interfaith Dialogue and the World Islamic Call Society, based in Tripoli, Libya began at the Vatican.

A spokesman said these are the latest in a long series of meetings that have taken place in various venues and regular intervals since 1989 to now. The talks, attended by 12 Muslim and 12 Catholic experts, under the presidency of Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interfaith Dialogue and Mohamed Ahmed Sherif, general secretary of the World Islamic Call Society will focus on three topics for reflection: ;religious Responsibility', 'Cultural and Social Responsibilities' and 'periods of Crisis in the Path of Interfaith Dialogue'.

At the end of the conference, on December 17, the participants will attend an audience with Pope Benedict XVI

Source: MISNA

© Independent Catholic News 2008

Contact Independent Catholic News email

Posted by admin on December 27, 2008

Islamic Solidarity Fund (ISF) has approved allocation of $ 72.2 million for five member states, namely Bangladesh, Indonesia, Burkina Faso, Jordan and Chad

Jeddah, December 27, SPA -- The Board of Directors of the Islamic Solidarity Fund (ISF) has approved allocation of $ 72.2 million for five member states, namely Bangladesh, Indonesia, Burkina Faso, Jordan and Chad.
The Board of Directors, which has recently held its meeting under the chairmanship of Dr Ahmad Mohammed Ali, the President of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB), reviewed the ISF's activities and future plans.
The establishment of the ISF is aimed at fighting poverty in the member states in line with the decision adopted by the extraordinary Islamic summit, held in Makkah in December 2005.

article here

Posted by admin on December 27, 2008

News from Doug Johnson - International Center for Religion and Diplomacy

Update #69

November 13, 2008
Partnering with Pepperdine

Last week, I met with Ken Starr, Dean of the Pepperdine University School of Law, to formalize a partnership agreement between ICRD and Pepperdine's Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution (the top-ranked dispute resolution program in the country for the last four-years running, according to U.S. News and World Report). Under this agreement, the two organizations will work together to build upon ICRD's current interventions in Kashmir, the Israel/Palestine dispute, and the Middle East more generally by involving Straus faculty and students in each of these initiatives for the purpose of (1) intervening as appropriate to improve the conflict situation being addressed, (2) training indigenous religious and political leaders in faith-based reconciliation, (3) developing a university-level educational program in faith-based diplomacy at Pepperdine that is informed by practical hands-on experience, and (4) training and equipping a cadre of next-generation, faith-based diplomats from Pepperdine. This is our second formal partnership to date and one that brings balance to our existing arrangement with the International Institute of Islamic Thought.

photos by Ron Hall, Pepperdine
Standing behind Dean Starr and me are (L to R) the Rev. Canon Brian Cox of ICRD and Pepperdine Professors Tim Pownall and Michael Zacharia, who formulated the partnership and who will jointly lead it in the future as the Pacis Project.

Persevering in Kashmir

This past month, ICRD Sr. Vice President Brian Cox, who directs the three projects mentioned above and who initiated the partnership with Straus, conducted a ten day advanced faith-based reconciliation training workshop in Santa Barbara, California for nine Kashmiri leaders from the Indian and Pakistani sides of the Line of Control. These leaders constitute ICRD's indigenous core leadership team for promoting "peace from within" in Kashmir. Collectively they are committed to changing the prevailing paradigm from one of militancy to that of faith-based reconciliation. Involved in Kashmir since 2001, ICRD has made significant strides in establishing a cooperative spirit between next-generation leaders from the Hindu, Muslim, and Buddhist regions of that troubled state. With notable influence in these regions and with this advanced training under their belts, the Core Group (with help from ICRD and Straus) will now take this effort to the next level in promoting social change that will support a peaceful resolution of the conflict. Toward this end, one ingredient in their long-term game plan will involve convening 10,000 university students in 2015 to exert the kind of "pressure from below" that will inspire political leaders to follow.

Doug Johnston

International Center for Religion & Diplomacy
1156 Fifteenth Street, N. W., Suite 910

Washington, D. C. 20005

202-331-9404 (phone)

202-872-9137 (fax)
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Posted by admin on November 13, 2008

Devotees flock to 'Buddha reincarnation' in Nepal


RATANPUR, Nepal -- The teenage boy revered by many as a reincarnation of Buddha sat silently in the jungle as he blessed his devotees Wednesday with a light tap on the head, which they consider the touch of the divine.

<< Ram Bahadur Bamjan, in white, believed to be the reincarnation of Buddha, blesses a Buddhist monk in Nijgadh town, about 160 kilometers (100 miles) south of Katmandu, Nepal, Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2008. Bamjan, 18, has re-emerged from the jungle in southern Nepal, attracting thousands of devotees, officials said Tuesday. After retreating into the jungle for more than a year, he re-emerged Monday. (AP Photo/Binod Joshi)

His face was still, his long hair spilled over his white robe, and he never said a word.

The followers of Ram Bahadur Bamjan, 18, believe he has been meditating without food and water since he was first spotted in the jungles of southern Nepal in 2005, when believers say he spent months without moving, sitting with his eyes closed beneath a tree.

Bamjan re-emerged this week to meet his followers, who have come by the thousands to see him in the jungles of Ratanpur, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) south of Katmandu.

"I got a chance to see God today," Bishnu Maya Khadka, a housewife, said after receiving Bamjan's blessing Wednesday. "They say he is Buddha, but for me he is just God."

Bamjan was expected to address his followers on Nov. 18 and then retreat again into the jungle for meditation, said Kamal Tamang, a Buddhist priest.

Bamjan received the pilgrims from atop a podium covered in yellow cloth and placed before a massive tree. He looked healthy and strong and showed no signs of starvation or dehydration.

Buddhism, which has about 325 million followers, mostly in Asia, teaches that every soul is reincarnated after death in another bodily form.

But several Buddhist scholars have been skeptical of the claims that Bamjan is a reincarnation of Siddhartha Gautama, who was born in southwestern Nepal roughly 2,500 years ago and became revered as the Buddha, or Enlightened One.

Posted by admin on November 12, 2008

BOOKS-IRAQ: Kurdish Jews Recall a Paradise Lost

BOOKS-IRAQ: Kurdish Jews Recall a Paradise Lost
By Aaron Glantz

SAN FRANCISCO, Oct 10 (IPS) - It's become popular, when talking about ongoing violence in U.S.-occupied Iraq, for officials in Washington and the media to paint the Iraqi people as savages who can't help but keep killing each other.

In last Thursday's Vice Presidential debate, Democrat Joe Biden said "the history of the last 700 years" showed the Iraqi people could never get along with each other.

But is that really true?

A different, more accurate version of history comes in a beautifully-written new book by Kurdish-American journalist Ariel Sabar: "My Father's Paradise: A Son's Search for His Jewish Past in Northern Iraq."

In it, Sabar tells the story of his father Yona, who grew up in 1940s Zakho, a small northern Iraqi city where Jews, Muslims, and Christians mixed relatively seamlessly. Though their community was small, Jews like Yona Sabar "went to work, prayed to a Jewish God, and spoke their own language without major disruption" just as they had "without major disruption for some twenty-seven hundred years".

Read the rest of the review here (<-- click)

Posted by admin on October 11, 2008

7th International Conference on Peace and Nonviolent Action


(a transnational center for peace and nonviolent action associated with the Department of Public Information of the United Nations)


Name of the event : 7th International Conference on Peace and Nonviolent Action

First Part : International Dialogue on Evolving a New Model of Nonviolent Lifestyle for Peace and Sustainability (10th Nov. to 12th Nov. 2008)

Second Part : Second International Nonviolent Leadership Training Camp

(13th Nov. to 14th Nov. 2008)

Dear Friends of Peace,

Earlier we had sent you an invitation for our conference on peace and nonviolent action which is to be held in the world famous city of Jaipur in the first half of November 2008. We still have room for a number of participants - either as speaker or as listener and we have decided to extend free local hospitality to all delegates whose registration is confirmed.

The first part of the 7th ICPNA is an international dialogue on 'Evolving a New Model of Nonviolent Lifestyle for Universal Peace and Sustainability'. (Nov. 10 to 12, 2008)

The valedictory session of the above dialogue will be presided over by Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, the former President of India on 12th Nov. at 3.30pm.

The second part i.e. the Second International Nonviolence Leadership Training Camp will be held from 13th Nov. to 14th Nov. 2008.

The conference is being organized under the spiritual inspiration of the 89 year old holy man Acharya Mahapragya, who will also shower blessings on all of us.

You can take part in the dialogue or the Training Camp, or - as most do - both.

This conference is different from most other peace conferences in that it is not merely academic. Apart from the exchange of ideas on the highest possible level, it is our conviction that peace is not only a matter of discussion and the implication of good ideas, but that peace belongs to the inherent nature of human beings themselves. The aggression and many other problems in the world are a manifestation or reflection of the inner problems each man or woman, and humankind in its totality.

This conference will not only exist of intellectualism, but take the people into a recognition of inner peace and a deeper understanding of what 'peace' actually is. Especially in the second part, we will go into some special yoga and meditation exercises, which will be guided by experienced practitioners. Of paramount importance for humanity, especially in the long term, is to change our lifestyles. We are aware that world peace can not be accomplished today, not even tomorrow, but the effort has to be sustained at least as a counterbalance to other forces.

Acharya Mahapragya believes that mere preaching doesn't bring about attitudinal change and inner transformation in an individual. For it one has to undergo specific training in ahimsa. This consists of four components:

1. Nonviolence: Concept and Principles

2. Change of Heart: The Training of the Mind based on some Practical Exercises

3. Nonviolent Lifestyle: What it means and how it can be lived

4. Fair means of Livelihood: Training in Self-employment

Come, join it and learn the art of living a happy life free from stress, anxiety and fear.

Better late than never.

Last date for submitting proposals, presentations and workshops at the 7th ICPNA is Oct. 10, 2008

Those who are not presenters can register even on the day of their arrival but to ensure accommodation, you are advised to register as soon as possible.

The conference is being organized by Anuvrat Global Organization (ANUVIBHA) (a transnational center for peace and nonviolent action associated with the Department of Public Information of the United Nations) and is being cosponsored by several internationally acclaimed organizations. You can register online too.

For details and registration form, please visit our website

Looking forward to hearing from you soon.

Yours sincerely,

Dr. S.L. Gandhi
President Anuvrat Global Organization (ANUVIBHA)
Opp. Gaurav Tower, Malviya Nagar,
Jaipur - 302 017 (Raj.) INDIA
Ph. : +91-141-2722412
Fax : +91-141-2710118, 2722412
Mobile : +91 98280 16989
email : [email protected] [email protected]
Web :

Posted by admin on October 02, 2008

CSID: Changing Course: A New Direction for U.S. Relations with the Muslim World

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Invitation to the 9/24 Launch of a Major New Report on U.S. Relations with the Muslim World
We are pleased to invite you to the official release of
Changing Course: A New Direction for U.S. Relations with the Muslim World

The release will take place:

Wednesday, September 24, 2008 at the National Press Club, 1:00 - 2:30 pm
The Report is the culmination of 18 months of work by a group of 34 distinguished American leaders. The Leadership Group's Report is the centerpiece of the U.S.-Muslim Engagement Project, an initiative of Search for Common Ground and the Consensus Building Institute.

Here is what Leadership Group members are saying about the Report:

Madeleine Albright, former U.S. Secretary of State; Principal, The Albright Group LLC
"Few challenges matter more than reducing distrust and misunderstanding between the United States and people living in Muslim majority states. This timely Report is a groundbreaking, stereotype-shattering and thought-provoking contribution to that essential cause."

Richard Armitage, former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State; President, Armitage International
"The United States needs to make a significant shift in our relations with Muslim countries, relying more on diplomacy and helping to lay the foundation for democratic development. I enthusiastically support the Report of the Leadership Group on U.S.-Muslim Engagement because it provides a clear, strong statement on how to achieve that shift. It is critically important for the next President and our business, faith and philanthropic leaders to act on its recommendations."

Richard Land, President, The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, Southern Baptist Convention; Member, U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom
"This initiative is a serious, comprehensive, bipartisan effort that seeks to address a critical and dangerous problem: The world Muslim community misunderstands Americans and Americans misunderstand them. This initiative lays out a detailed and comprehensive plan to vastly decrease that misunderstanding through a multi-faceted approach that will build constructive bridges of mutual understanding between Americans and the Muslim world."

Ingrid Mattson, President, The Islamic Society of North America; Professor of Islamic Studies, Director of Islamic Chaplaincy, and Director, Duncan Black Macdonald Center for the Study of Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations, Hartford Seminary
"It is a sign of great hope that the Leadership Group, despite having substantial differences over policies and politics, was able to come together to develop this Report. This was made possible by a shared belief that the vital interests of the American people need not, and must not, conflict with core American values affirming the dignity of all people and their right to freedom and self-determination. This is a message that the mainstream majority in the Muslim world will surely welcome, and it will help them in their desire to improve relations between their people and the United States."

Please click here for event details and a full listing of the Leadership Group. RSVP requested to [email protected].

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Robert Fersh, David Fairman, Co-Directors
Paula Gutlove, Manager

Search for Common Ground-USA
1601 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite 200
Washington, DC 20009

Consensus Building Institute
238 Main Street, Suite 400
Cambridge, MA 02142

To become a member of CSID, please click here.
To make a donation, please click here.

Your membership fees and donation allow CSID to continue its mission of promoting democracy in the Muslim world and educating Americans - and American policy makers - about Islam and the Muslim world, and therefore contribute to peace, human rights, and harmony in the world.

With our best wishes and regards,


Radwan A. Masmoudi
Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy

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Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy | 10612-D Providence Road, Suite 704 | Charlotte | NC | 28277

Posted by admin on September 22, 2008

UN DPI’s 11th annual student observance of the International Day of Peace

To whom it may concern,

Every year for the past 10 years the United Nations Department of Public Information (UN DPI) has
convened a student conference as an important and integral part of the observance of the International Day of Peace. The International Day of Peace is observed by the United Nations and countries and peoples around the world on 21 September. This year the day falls on a Sunday. The UN DPI will therefore organize the student conference on Friday, 19 September.

I am pleased to invite members of your student body to participate in the UN DPI’s 11th annual student observance of the International Day of Peace on Friday, 19th September 2008. The satellite video-conference event, from 10:00 am – 1:00 pm (New York time), will bring together about 600 middle and high school students at United Nations Headquarters with others at participating sites in United Nations peacekeeping missions around the world.

This year’s student ceremony to mark the “International day of global ceasefire, non-violence and the culture of peace” will also involve United Nations Messengers of Peace who are available to attend. Last year Michael Douglas, Jane Goodall, Dr. Elie Wiesel and recent appointee HRH Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein of Jordan attended the annual Peace Bell ceremony and, subsequently, interacted with students participating from the field as well as at United Nations Headquarters.

The student conference will begin with opening remarks by Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and the President of the 63rd General Assembly, to be followed by an exchange between the Messengers of Peace and students assembled at peacekeeping mission sites and the student audience at UN Headquarters in New York. The programme will continue with a discussion between the youths in New York and those assembled at peacekeeping video sites.

Registration of each student and teacher attending must be completed before 10 September. Please send each participant’s name and the contact information for each group to: [email protected] and [email protected] Seats will be allocated on a first come first serve basis. Additional information on the day’s programme will be sent to you during the first week of September. View last year’s event at

We look forward to the participation of students from your school to make this a memorable event to focus attention on peace and non-violence.
Yours sincerely,

Yvonne Acosta
Chief, Education Outreach
Outreach Division, DPI

Posted by admin on August 14, 2008

4th Annual 9/11 Unity Walk

Faith Leaders Inspire Gandhi-Style Walk

In a powerful statement reminiscent of Gandhi's Walks, every church, synagogue, mosque and temple on Embassy Row opens their doors to each other and symbolically the world. People of all faiths will come together on September 14th for the 4th Annual 9/11 Unity Walk, the signature event in Washington, DC for building bridges between faiths.

Striking scenes broadcast worldwide on BBC, CNN and Al Jazeera include gospel singing and a Muslim call to prayer at Washington's largest synagogue and a Christian evangelical preaching and Jewish cantors singing from the Islamic Center!

Chaired by Rev Mpho Tutu, leaders of all major faiths including Christian evangelicals, rabbis, imams and gurus tell us not to compromise our own faith, but challenge us to understand our neighbors.

In a city known for power, the simple act of people coming together with no signs, banners or an agenda - like Gandhi's walks - makes the most powerful statement. The Unity Walk moves us towards a world where we are united rather than divided by our many faiths. Come be moved by the Unity Walk!!

Posted by admin on August 14, 2008

Interfaith Youth Movement Growing Worldwide

In many societies around the world where religious differences have boiled into armed conflict, young people are at particular risk. Often, they are recruited by religious extremists to join in terror campaigns against rival religious communities. But as we hear from in this report written by VOA's Mohamed Elshinnawi, a growing interfaith youth movement is working to counter the extremists, and to give young people the tools and training they need to build more peaceful, tolerant societies.

The Interfaith Youth Core teaches young American Muslims value of religious tolerance

From its headquarters in the midwestern city of Chicago, a private organization known as the Interfaith Youth Core is training what it hopes will be tomorrow's peace-makers. The not-for-profit American group teaches young people how to build bridges of friendship and understanding across cultures and faiths. It provides leadership training, program funding and support for networking projects among groups of young people around the world.

Article here

Posted by admin on August 12, 2008

Internships available. Become an IRFWP intern

IRFWP is an ideal place to be an intern if you have interest in peace and interreligious affairs


Dr. Frank Kaufmann
[email protected]

Posted by admin on July 09, 2008

2008 Eliav-Sartawi Awards for Middle Eastern Journalism

Search for Common Ground (SFCG) requests submissions for the annual Eliav-Sartawi Awards for Middle Eastern Journalism competition to recognize and encourage journalism that contributes to better understanding between people and to maintaining political dialogue in the Middle East.

Each article submitted for consideration will be reviewed by a panel of international judges. Each winner will be invited to Jerusalem in the Fall of 2008 for an award ceremony at the International YMCA, Jerusalem and will receive a monetary prize of $1,000 (USD).

Awards will be offered for articles originally published in either Arabic, Hebrew, or English. The articles must have been published between May 1st, 2007 and July 1st, 2008 in a recognized newspaper, magazine, web-publication or other periodical. Each individual applicant is invited to submit one article for consideration. Media outlets and press clubs may nominate up to three articles for consideration.

Please consider the following questions, which will be used by the judges, while selecting articles for submission:

· Does the article address societal, national, or regional issues related to the Middle East?

· Does the language used in the article reflect on or give voice to multiple sides and points of view in a balanced manner?

· Does the article suggest or have an implied suggestion for how to manage conflict better or to work towards a constructive solution of the issue addressed?

· Are the issues handled in a self-reflective way that helps to broaden understanding among or about peoples in the Middle East? Does the article acknowledge the needs, experiences, histories, values, emotions, or beliefs of those involved, even those with whom the author disagrees?

· Is the topic, focus, or handling of the article distinctive? Does it raise questions that are not commonly raised in the media, or does it raise them in a way that is unique? Does it highlight issues that may merit further attention? Is the article timely, reflecting the context of the time and place it was published?

· Does the article display skillful writing and reporting? Is there clarity and strength of message? Is it thought provoking? Moving?

SFCG reserves the right to submit articles that meet the awards’ criteria for consideration from the judges. SFCG also assumes the right to reproduce the winning articles or portions thereof. Application materials will not be returned.

Please send submissions (original or quality copy of published article) for the 2008 awards competition before July 15th 2008 to Search for Common Ground; fax +972 (2) 582 0117; e-mail: [email protected]

For further questions please call 972-(0)2-581-2049 or email [email protected] and [email protected]

Posted by admin on June 26, 2008

The cultural dimension of Poson

Here is a lovely report on the celebration of Poson:

Asoka was a harsh king. He was known among his subjects as “Chandasoka”, meaning “cruel Asoka”, but after embracing Buddhism he came to be known as “Dharmasoka”. He accepted the new religion that was fast spreading in his native India and wished to propagate the Buddha Dhamma in the island adjacent to his country.

Arahath Mahinda, after putting King Devanampiyatissa to the test with a series of questions and satisfying himself on the matter of the king’s wisdom, then introduced the Buddhist philosophy to Sri Lanka. This year’s Poson marks the 2,311th year of that historic event.

Posted by admin on June 15, 2008

The Doha International Center for Interfaith Dialogue concludes conference with recommendations

Call for promoting respect for all religions
Web posted at: 5/15/2008 3:5:33
Source ::: The Peninsula
The Chairman of the National Council for Culture, Arts and Heritage, H E Sheikh Meshhaal bin Jassem bin Mohammed Al Thani opening the Doha International Centre for Interfaith Dialogue yesterday in the presence of Muslim, Christian and Jewish religious leaders.

Doha • The sixth Doha Conference of Interfaith Dialogue, which concluded here yesterday, expressed concern over the widespread disrespect for religious symbols in society and called on governmental and non-governmental organisations to initiate steps to promote respect among all religions and communities.

Posted by admin on May 28, 2008

Article on Dialogue teaches about Shintoism

TOKYO - 19 May 2008

Japanese priest speaks on dialogue between Shintoism and Christianity

Japanese priest Fr Yuji Sugawara SJ, professor at the Pontifical Gregorian University, outlined the relationship between Shintoism and Christianity in Japan, in an interview with Agenzia Fides.

Fr Yuji said that Shintoism is the oldest traditional religion in Japan, begun by the pre-historic peoples living in central Asia, and has been left as it is today after a long co-existence shared with Buddhism. In Shintoism, there are no doctrines or explicit ethical norms. It is based on an animist vision, the Kami, spiritual essences or gods that are manifested through nature. The worship of ancestors and the Emperor (until the modern reform), who was considered to have divine origin, are also at the center of this religion.

Posted by admin on May 28, 2008

Launching of Guru Granth Tri-centennial in North America

Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, the head of Sikhs’ highest seat Akal Takhat, formally launched the Tri-Centennial Celebration of the Ordination of Sri Guru Granth as the Sikhs’ eternal guru at the International Seminar held here.

The Guru Granth was compiled and canonized by Guru Arjan in 1604. It contains the hymns of 36 gurus and holy men from all world religions originating in the Indian sub-continent using all major languages of the South East Asia and Middle East. The last Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh ordained the Granth as the Eternal Guru in the last sermon he delivered in 1708.

Posted by admin on May 28, 2008

2008 Eliav-Sartawi Awards for Middle Eastern Journalism

2008 Eliav-Sartawi Awards for Middle Eastern Journalism

Search for Common Ground (SFCG) requests submissions for the annual Eliav-Sartawi Awards for Middle Eastern Journalism competition to recognize and encourage journalism that contributes to better understanding between people and to maintaining political dialogue in the Middle East.

Each article submitted for consideration will be reviewed by a panel of international judges. Each winner will be invited to Jerusalem in the Fall of 2008 for an award ceremony at the International YMCA, Jerusalem and will receive a monetary prize of $1,000 (USD).

Awards will be offered for articles originally published in either Arabic, Hebrew, or English. The articles must have been published between May 1st, 2007 and July 1st, 2008 in a recognized newspaper, magazine, web-publication or other periodical. Each individual applicant is invited to submit one article for consideration. Media outlets and press clubs may nominate up to three articles for consideration.

Please consider the following questions, which will be used by the judges, while selecting articles for submission:

· Does the article address societal, national, or regional issues related to the Middle East?

· Does the language used in the article reflect on or give voice to multiple sides and points of view in a balanced manner?

· Does the article suggest or have an implied suggestion for how to manage conflict better or to work towards a constructive solution of the issue addressed?

· Are the issues handled in a self-reflective way that helps to broaden understanding among or about peoples in the Middle East? Does the article acknowledge the needs, experiences, histories, values, emotions, or beliefs of those involved, even those with whom the author disagrees?

· Is the topic, focus, or handling of the article distinctive? Does it raise questions that are not commonly raised in the media, or does it raise them in a way that is unique? Does it highlight issues that may merit further attention? Is the article timely, reflecting the context of the time and place it was published?

· Does the article display skillful writing and reporting? Is there clarity and strength of message? Is it thought provoking? Moving?

SFCG reserves the right to submit articles that meet the awards’ criteria for consideration from the judges. SFCG also assumes the right to reproduce the winning articles or portions thereof. Application materials will not be returned.

Please send submissions (original or quality copy of published article) for the 2008 awards competition before July 15th 2008 to Search for Common Ground; fax +972 (2) 582 0117; e-mail: [email protected].

For further questions please call 972-(0)2-581-2049 or email [email protected] and [email protected]

2008 Eliav-Sartawi Awards for Middle Eastern Journalism

Application Form

How did you hear about the awards? _________________________________________

Author’s Information









If submitted by someone other than the author, please provide the following:

Submitted By:







Article Information



Date of Publication:

Category (should be based on type of publication):

Please circle:

Israeli Press

Arab Press

International Press

* Articles must have been published between May 1st, 2007, and July 1st, 2008

Applications must be received by July 15th, 2008

Please send original or quality copy of published article to:

Search for Common Ground • Fax: +972 (2) 582 0117 • Phone: +972 (2) 581 2049 • E-mail: [email protected]

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Posted by admin on May 22, 2008

Belief in aliens doesn't negate faith in God, Vatican says

The mainstream media tends not to cover religion too well (though that is changing slowly, which is encouraging). Here is an LATimes article which on first blush seems like a topic of fun or passing curiosity, but the fact is that it is important for a major religion, with a strong Western, scholarly, and philosophical and theological is issuing a statement with broad implications for an eternal question, and one especially urgent for this time, namely the relationship between religion and science.

Here (<-- click) is the entire article:

Belief in aliens doesn't negate faith in God, Vatican says

The Catholic Church's chief astronomer say any extra-terrestrial being would also be a 'part of creation.'
From the Associated Press

1:26 PM PDT, May 17, 2008

VATICAN CITY — Believing that there may be extraterrestrial life does not contradict a faith in God, the Vatican's chief astronomer said in a recent interview.

Father Jose Gabriel Funes, the Jesuit director of the Vatican Observatory was quoted as saying the vastness of the universe means it is possible that there could be other forms of life outside Earth, even intelligent ones.

"How can we rule out that life may have developed elsewhere?" Funes said. "Just as we consider earthly creatures as 'a brother,' and 'sister,' why should we not talk about an 'extraterrestrial brother'? It would still be part of creation."

In the interview by the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, Funes said such a notion "doesn't contradict our faith" because extraterrestrials would also be God's creatures. Ruling out their existence would be like "putting limits" on God's creative freedom, he said.

The interview, headlined "The extraterrestrial is my brother," also covered the relationship between the Roman Catholic Church and science, and the theological implications of the existence of life on other planets.

Funes said science, especially astronomy, did not contradict religion, touching on a theme of Pope Benedict XVI, who has made exploring the relationship between faith and reason a key aspect of his papacy.

The Bible "is not a science book," Funes said, adding that he thinks the Big Bang theory is the most "reasonable" explanation for the creation of the universe. The theory holds that the universe began billions of years ago in the explosion of a single, super-dense point that contained all matter.

But he continues to believe that "God is the creator of the universe and that we are not the result of chance," he said.

Funes urged the church and the scientific community to leave behind divisions caused by Galileo's persecution 400 years ago, saying the incident had "caused wounds."

In 1633 the astronomer was tried as a heretic and forced to recant his theory that Earth revolved around the sun. Church teaching at the time placed Earth at the center of the universe.

"The church has somehow recognized its mistakes," he said. "Maybe it could have done it better, but now it's time to heal those wounds and this can be done through calm dialogue and collaboration."

Pope John Paul II declared in 1992 that the ruling against Galileo was an error resulting from "tragic mutual incomprehension."

The Vatican Observatory has been at the forefront of efforts to bridge the gap between religion and science. Its scientist-clerics have generated top-notch research and its meteorite collection is considered one of the world's best.

The observatory, founded by Pope Leo XIII in 1891, is based in Castel Gandolfo, a lakeside town in the hills outside Rome where the pope has a summer residence. It also conducts research at an observatory at the University of Arizona in Tucson.

Posted by admin on May 18, 2008

Sri Lanka Interfaith Effort

Leaders of Different Faiths Inaugurate Historic Religions for Peace Inter-religious Council–Sri Lanka
—Representatives from North and South Convene in Unprecedented Multi-Religious Summit in War-Torn Region—

( New York, 30 April 2008)—Senior religious leaders of diverse faiths from around the world—Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, and Christian—launched the groundbreaking Religions for Peace Inter-religious Council (IRC)–Sri Lanka in Kandy and war-torn Trincomalee on 28 April and 30 April 2008, respectively. Religions for Peace is the world’s largest and most representative multi-religious coalition.

The conference was organized by Religions for Peace–International in partnership with its local affiliate, Religions for Peace–Sri Lanka, and the National Peace Council. The 22-member Religions for Peace IRC–Sri Lanka becomes the country’s most representative multi-religious body and includes such senior Buddhist leaders from the South and senior Tamil religious leaders from the North as Most Rev. Rayappu Joseph, Bishop of Mannar. The Council will offer mediation, reject extremist tendencies, and educate the public on the positive, socially transformative power of multi-religious cooperation. The Council has begun building district-level IRCs in Kandy and Trincomalee.

“ Sri Lanka has endured decades of violent conflict, and cooperation among the religious communities is vital for peace,” said Dr. William F. Vendley, Secretary General of Religions for Peace. “With the new Council, Buddhist, Hindu, Christian, and Muslim goodwill now has a channel for sustained cooperation.”
The international delegation at the meeting included members of the Religions for Peace World Council, His Holiness Tep Vong, Great Supreme Patriarch, Kingdom of Cambodia, and Bishop Gunnar J. Stålsett, Moderator, Religions for Peace European Council of Religious Leaders; Religions for Peace Honorary Presidents Ms. Ela Gandhi, a granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi and Trustee of the Mahatma Gandhi Trust, and Dr. M. Din Syamsuddin, Chairman, Muhammadiyah; and Religions for Peace International Trustee Rev. Norio Sakai, Chairman Emeritus, Rissho Kosei-kai. They were supported by Rev. Kyoichi Sugino, Religions for Peace Director of Inter-religious Council Development and Field Coordination.

Sri Lankan religious leaders included Most Ven. Tibbotuwawe Sri Siddharatha Maha Nayake Thero, Malwatte Maha Nikaya, Kandy; Most Ven. Udugama Sri Buddharakkitha Maha Nayake Thero, Asgiri Maha Nikaya, Kandy; Karthikeja Santhirasegara Sarma, International Secretary, Hindu Priest Organization, Jaffna; Mohamed Ibrahim Mohamed Rizwe, President, All Ceylon Jamiyattul Ulama’s Association, Colombo; Neelakandan Kandiah, Honorary General Secretary, All Ceylon Hindu Congress; and Bishop Dr. Joseph Vianney Fernando, Bishop of Kandy, President, Bishops Conference of Sri Lanka.

Religions for Peace, in partnership with its affiliate in Sri Lanka and the National Peace Council, the country’s leading peace NGO, has facilitated private negotiations and a series of public consultations with senior leaders of major religious communities, the government and the LTTE. The milestones of Religions for Peace work in Sri Lanka include its facilitation in the issuance of a historic statement by Mahanayakes (Buddhist high priests) in support of peace, rejecting Sinhala Buddhist extremism, accepting Sri Lanka as a multi-ethnic and multi-religious country, and calling for solidarity from the international community. Religions for Peace has also since 2004 undertaken strategic multi-religious humanitarian projects, including the building of rain-fed water tanks as confidence building measures for Hindu, Buddhist and Muslim communities in Trincomalee and other border districts as a symbol of inter-ethnic and inter-religious harmony. Furthermore, Religions for Peace held an international summit in Jaffna, the war-torn Northern city, in December 2007, to bring together 10 international and 50 Sri Lankan senior religious leaders from the North, East and South of the country.

Religions for Peace is the world’s largest and most representative multi-religious coalition advancing common action for peace since 1970. Headquartered in New York and accredited to the United Nations, Religions for Peace works through affiliated inter-religious councils in 70 countries in six continents.

Posted by admin on May 12, 2008

Rabbi leads interfaith delegation to Iran

Rabbi leads interfaith delegation to Iran

For the first time, an American rabbi will be traveling to Iran Tuesday on a mission of interfaith dialogue and understanding.

Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb, one of the early forces behind the Jewish Renewal movement in America, will co-lead a delegation of 21 peace activists to the Islamic Republic on a mission "to humanize the face of Iran, lest we end up with a disaster of global proportions we cannot imagine,"
said her participation in the mission came out of Tuesday's threat by Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton that an Iranian assault on Israel would be met with an American response that would "obliterate" Iran.

"It is important to negotiate and not threaten obliteration," Gottlieb believes, "in particular because there are between 30,000 and 40,000 Jewish people living in Iran, the oldest extant Jewish community in the Middle East, which has been there since the first exile in 586 BCE."

 blog it
Posted by admin on May 07, 2008

UK Muslims Launch Body to Promote Secular Democracy

Read about this development associated with the Quilliam Foundation

clipped from

UK Muslims Launch Body to Promote Secular Democracy

London ( - It's time for the "silent majority" of British Muslims to be heard over the noise made by religious extremists, speakers launching a new community organization in Britain said on Thursday.
A small group of radicals had hijacked the image of British Muslims, activists said at the launch of British Muslims for Secular Democracy (BMSD).
Launched at a London press conference, the Quilliam Foundation said its aim was to combat the influence of extreme Islamist ideology.
Mustafa said in a statement it was time to question the capitalist system and liberal western values associated with it.
"Our campaign will show the sublime values of Islam and the ability of the Islamic system to solve modern problems," he said. "The Muslim world is crying out for Islam."
 blog it

What is your opinion about this initiative?

Posted by admin on May 06, 2008

Interfaith Dialogue Conference

Interfaith Dialogue Conference

Nonviolence in a Violent Age:
Resources from Spiritual Leaders


Richard Deats
Fellowship of Reconciliation

Nurah Amat’ullah
Muslim Women’s Institute for Research and Development

Gupreet Singh
Mid-Hudson Sikh Cultural Association

Philip Carr-Harris
Dutchess Interfaith Council

Trudi Jinpu Hirsch
ACPE Chaplain Supervisor at Vassar Hospital

May 7, 2008

7:00 AM – 4:30 PM

UTS-The Interfaith Seminary

Barrytown, NY


7:00-8:30 Breakfast and Registration

8:30-8:45 Small Group Introduction

8:45-9:00 Welcoming Remarks
Dr. Tyler Hendricks

9:00-10:50 Session 1: Resources from Spiritual Leaders: Nurah Amat’ullah, Gupreet Singh, Trudi Jinpu Hirsch, Q & A
Small Group Discussion

11:00-11:50 Interfaith Chapel Service:
Dr. Richard Deats

12:00-12:45 Lunch

1:00-3:00 Session 2: Non-Violence of Gandhi and King: Dr. Richard Deats

3:15-4:15 Small Group Discussion

4:15-4:30 Closing Remarks

*Registration fee: $20 (includes Breakfast, Lunch, & Seminar Package: partial fee goes to support the work of Dutchess Interfaith Council)
**Pre-registration by Sunday, May 4, 2008: Please visit
***Special Discount fee for Students is $15.00.

Posted by admin on April 30, 2008

Be an IRFWP intern

IRFWP is an ideal place to do an internship for university students involved in studies related to religion and peace.

Please write us through the contact information on this site. Click here

Posted by admin on April 18, 2008

Muslim swimsuit lets Indonesian women jump in the pool

clipped from
For millions of Muslim women like Chaterina swimming is more complicated than just jumping into the water. Though most Indonesians practice a tolerant form of the religion, which sometimes incorporates Hindu and animist beliefs, women are still obliged as Muslims to cover their bodies, leaving only their face and palms of their hands exposed.
A SAMIRA one-piece suit covers the body head to toe and has a loose shirt that comes in a variety of printed over it so it is not revealing when wet.
The bathing suit, which sells for 225,000 rupiah (25 dollars), is available online as well as in stores nationwide.

Their workshop in Bintaro, south of Jakarta, is havinga hard time acquiring enough Lycra and Spandex material to meet the demand in a country where 90 per cent of the 230 million population are followers of Islam.
 blog it

From this Earth Times article

Posted by admin on April 07, 2008

INVITATION - Two Important Conferences in April in Washington DC

Dear Friends and Members of CSID: Please join us at one or both of these TWO conferences, which have excellent programs and stimulating discussions about timely and important issues. We hope to see you there!

ACSIS 2008 Program

"Studying Islam: What Have We Learned?"

American Council for the Study of Islamic Societies
25th Annual Conference
April 11-12, 2008
The College of William & Mary Washington Center
1779 Massachusetts Ave., N.W., 8th Floor
Washington DC

Friday, April 11, 2008

8:30AM Coffee, bagels

9:00AM Welcome - Vivienne SM. Angeles, President

9:15AM Reopening the Gates of Ijtihad
Sponsored by SAMSA
Convener and Chair: Theodore P. Wright, Jr., SUNY Albany
Discussant: Mumtaz Ahmad, Hampton University

"The Shi`a Approach to Ijtihad"
Syed Nadeem Hasnain, Lucknow and St. Lawrence University

"Reopening the Gates of Ijtihad: A Feminist Perspective"
Etin Anwar, Hobart & Wm. Smith Colleges

"Ijtihad as Intellectual Jihad: Renewal of the 'Spirit of Islam' in Wahiduddin Khan's Thought"
Irfan A. Omar, Marquette University

"Asgherali Engineer, Bohra Reformist of Mumbai and Ijtihad"
Theodore P. Wright, SUNY Albany

10:45AM New Perspectives on Muslim Women
Chair and Discussant: Vivienne SM. Angeles, La Salle University

"American Muslim Women and the 'Compartmentalization' of Feminism"
Farha Ternikar, Le Moyne College

"The Role of Female Religious Leaders in Social Transformation in the Ferghana Valley"
Svetlana Peshkova, Syracuse University

"Muslim Women and Peace-building"
Azita Ranjbar, George Mason University (student)

Noon Lunch (List of nearby restaurants will be provided.)

2:00PM New Approaches to Islamic Identities
Chair and Discussant: Gisela Webb, Seton Hall University

"Islam and Education: What Have We Learned?"
Helen N. Boyle, Center for Middle East and Francophone Africa Programs

"Exploring Sociological Measures of Islamic Religious Tradition and
Religiosity in Majority Muslim Countries"
Alessandra Gonzalez, Baylor University (student)

3:00PM New Perspectives on Islamic Law
Chair and Discussant: Tamara Sonn, College of William & Mary

"Muslim Soldiers Fatwa: A Sociolinguistic Study of an Islamic Legal Opinion"
Rebecca Skreslet, Georgetown University (student)

"Customs, Islamic Law, and Western Scholarship"
Ayman Shabana, UCLA (student)

"The Key Issue of Foundling (Laqit) in the Shafi`i School of Law"
Mohamad Md. Som Sujimon, Universiti Brunei Darussalam

"The Application of Islamic Legal Methodology in Analyzing Muslim Legal Traditions in Malaysia"
Ismail bin Mat, Sultan Haji Omar Ali Saifuddien Institute of Islamic Studies

"Islamic Legal Maxims for Attainment of Maqasid al-Shari`a in Criminal Law:
A Critical Examination of Judicial Procedure in Safiyyatu Hussaini v.
Sokoto State of Nigeria Adultery Case"
Luqman Zakariyah, The Muslim College London (student)

5:30PM Refreshments and Dinner


"Charting the Future of Islam and the West:
What Do a Billion Muslims Really Think?"

John L. Esposito
Prince Alwaleed Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding
Georgetown University

Saturday, April 12, 2008

9:30AM New Perspectives on Political Islam
Chair and Discussant: Tariq Karim, University of Maryland

"Understanding Hamas: Islamist Politics in Context and US Policy Implications"
Jason B. Nicholson, Major, US Army

"A New Hamas for a New Era: The Effects of Politics on Radical Ideologies and Behaviors"
Chrystie Flournoy Swiney, Georgetown University (student)

"Variation of Shiite Islam in Iran and Iraq"
Hossein Moghaddam, Australian National University

"Islam and State in Indonesia: Between Secularism and Theocracy"
Zaenal Muttaqin, Temple University (student)

11:00AM Translating Islam
Chair and Discussant: Charles Butterworth, University of Maryland

"In Praise of Academic Grazing: From Script to Print to Script"
Dagmar Riedel, Columbia University

"Bringing Sacred Law and Dogma into English: Competing Translation Networks Among Muslims in the West"
Martin Nguyen, Harvard University

Noon: Board Meeting and Lunch

Registration for ACSIS 25, College of William & Mary Washington Center, 1779 Massachusetts Ave., Washington DC, April 11-12, 2008:

_____Registration for ACSIS members at conference -- $50.00

_____Registration without ACSIS membership at conference -- $60.00

_____Registration for Students Presenting Papers -- $25.00

_____Banquet registration (April 11, 2008) -- $50.00

_____ACSIS annual membership -- $35.00
(Includes subscription to Journal of South Asian & Middle Eastern Studies)

_____ACSIS lifetime membership -- $250.00
(Includes subscription to Journal of South Asian & Middle Eastern Studies)


NAME _______________________________________________________________





INSTITUTIONAL AFFILIATION ______________________________________

Please fill out form and mail with U.S. check payable to ACSIS for the amount above to:

Ms. Anne Hischar
American Council for the Study of Islamic Societies
421 St. Augustine Center
Villanova University
Villanova. PA 19085


April 21, 2008, 9:00am – 3:00pm
Copley Formal Lounge, Georgetown University
RSVP: e-mail to: [email protected]
Second in a series of three symposia on the theme of
"Religious Freedom and U.S. Foreign Policy: Taking Stock, Looking Forward"


8:30-9:00am: Coffee and Bagels

9:00am-10:45am: “U.S. Foreign Policy Practitioners: The State Department, the Commission, Congress, and the White House”

Robert A. Seiple, President of the Council for America’s First Freedom and former U.S. Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom

Tad Stahnke, Director of the Fighting Discrimination Program at Human Rights First and former senior staffer at U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom

David Killion, senior staff of House Committee on Foreign Affairs and former senior staffer on human rights issues for Rep. Tom Lantos

William Inboden, Senior Vice-President of the Legatum Institute and former senior staff at National Security Council

Chris Seiple, President of the Institute for Global Engagement (moderator)

11:00am-12:30pm: “U.S. Foreign Policy Scholars: International Religious Freedom Policy, American Ideals, and American National Interests”

Ruth Wedgwood, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies

Philip Gordon, Brookings Institution

Joshua Muravchik, American Enterprise Institute

Walter Russell Mead, Council on Foreign Relations (invited)

Thomas Farr, Georgetown School of Foreign Service (moderator)

12:30-1:30: Lunch

1:30pm-3:00pm : “U.S. International Religious Freedom Policy: The Critique from the Muslim World”

Abdolkarim Soroush, Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs

Asma Afsarrudin, University of Notre Dame

Radwan Masmoudi, Center for the Study of Islam & Democracy

Thomas Farr, Georgetown School of Foreign Service (moderator)

Light breakfast and lunch served; RSVP required at HYPERLINK "mailto:[email protected]" [email protected]

You may attend one, two, or all sessions.

Please also join us on October 10, 2008 for the final symposium in the series, entitled “The Future of U.S. International Religious Freedom Policy: Recommendations for a New Administration”
* * *

In October 1998 Congress passed, and President Clinton signed, the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA). The IRFA mandated the promotion of religious liberty around the world as a central element of American foreign policy. In 2008 three symposia at Georgetown examine the origins (February 25), performance (April 21) and promise (October 10) of IRF policy. Experts from across the spectrum of American public life—scholars, policymakers, experts and journalists—as well as informed officials and observers from around the globe, will analyze policy. The October symposium, building on the earlier two, presents recommendations for the new administration.

This series is hosted by Georgetown University and co-organized by the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs at Georgetown University and the Council on Faith & International Affairs at the Institute for Global Engagement.

The series is also made possible in part through the generous support of the Henry Luce Foundation / Georgetown School of Foreign Service
Program on Religion and International Affairs.

Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy (CSID)
1625 Massachusetts Avenue N.W., Suite 601 - Washington, DC 20036-2212
Tel.: (202) 265-1200 - Fax: (202) 265-1222

Click here to forward this email to a friend.

Posted by admin on April 04, 2008

Cambodia hosts inter-religion meeting for Asian Pacific countries

Cambodia hosts inter-religion meeting for Asian Pacific countries
An inter-religion meeting was launched here on Thursday for religious leaders from 15 countries in Asian Pacific region to talk about cooperation, peace and harmony in the world.
All religious sects have to work together to help this globe to have peace, food security and contribute to poverty reduction, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said while addressing the meeting.
"We have to have tolerance among all religions, and help to build morality in society, share cultures and arts for people to understand deeply," he added.
The meeting, held on April 3-4, talks about security, respect for religious belief, understanding and tolerance, equal opportunity, solidarity, cooperation and conflict resolution, a press release said.
The meeting is sponsored by Australian and Indonesian governments while Cambodia hosts the meeting, it said.
 blog it
Posted by admin on April 03, 2008

British Muslim achievements recognized at annual awards ceremony

Muslim achievements in Britain were extolled by ministers and political leaders at the annual ceremony for the latest The Muslim News Awards for Excellence in London Tuesday.

"These awards celebrate the achievements of British Muslims in all walks of life. They identify Muslim achievers and highlight the wonderful contribution that British Muslims make," Prime Minister Gordon Brown said.

"Equally importantly, they challenge the stereotypes and negative portrayal of Muslims in many parts of the media. They provide us with role models we can all be proud of," the Prime Minister said in a video message to the annual ceremony.

Entire article here

Posted by admin on April 02, 2008

Comic strip heroes take on al Qaeda

Officials in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) had run a well received comic strip campaign against right-wing extremism in 2004 starring Andi, a schoolboy hero who stands up against xenophobia and racism.

The comic -- printed in 100,000 copies and distributed to every secondary school in Germany's most populous state -- aims to show young people the difference between peaceful mainstream Islam and the violent, intolerant version peddled by militants.

"We were always careful not to hurt feelings and anger people by painting a caricature of Islam," said Hartwig Moeller, head of the NRW interior ministry's department for protection of the constitution, responsible for intelligence gathering.

"We had to make clear we weren't aiming against Muslims, but only those people who want to misuse Islam for political aims," added Moeller, who despite his intelligence role says 50 to 60 percent of his work is educating the public about threats.

Read the whole, very interesting article here (<-- click)

Posted by admin on March 26, 2008

IRFWP Internships available online -

Do your field study in religion, not for profit administration, and interfaith studies with IRFWP online.

Gain valuable experience in the vital and emerging arena of religion and peace

Contact IRFWP director, Dr. Frank Kaufmann at [email protected]

Posted by admin on March 26, 2008

Request from the Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information

Dear Friends

It has been decided that the Israeli and Palestinian negotiations now include a team looking at issues of creating a “culture of peace”. The establishment of this team is largely due to efforts made by IPCRI to get issues of culture of peace on the official agenda as part of the lessons learned from the failures of the past.

There needs to be a considerable amount of thinking now on what issues should be dealt with in the negotiating framework. We would like to invite you to share your ideas with us on what the agenda of the negotiations on culture of peace should entail.

It is important to think in terms of “what should the Israeli and Palestinian governments do to support the creation and the development of a culture of peace”. We do not want to include issues that should not be under the control of governments, but only those that fall within what the governments should and could do.

Some of the issues that we hope to present to the negotiators are:

· Israeli and Palestinian governmental support for the creation of an international fund for Palestinian-Israeli peace (modeled on the Fund for Ireland)

· The creation of Ministries of Peace on both sides as the governmental coordinating bodies (at the cabinet table) responsible for the implementation of the non-military aspects of the future agreements.

· Evaluation and reform of Palestinian and Israeli text books so that each side will learn about each other and each other’s languages.

· The creation of an effective and sensitive mechanism for confronting incitement to hatred.

· Support for public media (TV and radio) for programming for a culture of peace.

We would like to hear your ideas – we will use those ideas to put together a document for the two teams.


Gershon Baskin - Co-CEO, IPCRI

Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information

P.O. Box 9321, Jerusalem 91092

Tel: +972-2-676-9460 Fax: +972-2-676-8011

Cellphone: +972-(0)52-238-1715

[email protected]

Posted by admin on March 11, 2008

AU Wackerlin Center for Faith and Action - Monthly Musings

Monthly Musings
March 2008

Well, after an unintended break, I intend to get back to these monthly (rather than annual!) musings. This month I want to recommend a book. There are a million and one books about world religions, ranging from the excellent, through the jargon-loaded masquerading as up-to-date scholarship, to the bad and boring. It’s always interesting to read what colleagues have chosen as important to point out and emphasize as important, and to reflect on what they have left out. Occasionally, I think that some religionists wouldn’t recognize a religion if they fell over one, so filled they are with ingenious and innovative concepts of religion. And not enough of the current crop of introductory books on world religions helps the reader understand the power of religion for good and evil in our violent century.

In an act of filial piety, I want to draw your attention to John Bowker’s Beliefs That Changed The World: the history and ideas of the great religions (Quercus, 2007). Many years ago, John was my teacher at Cambridge and then Lancaster universities. I was not always an excellent student but he was always an inspiring, if formidable, teacher, and I have lived off some of his ideas for over 30 years. In about 200 pages, he touches on Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Indian beliefs, Buddhism, Chinese beliefs and Japanese beliefs. He is a courteous and acute observer, and himself a man of faith, but he does not indulge those who let religion off the hook by claiming that bad deeds are nothing to do with real religion. In the introduction, he writes that ‘there are specific religious beliefs which actually encourage, or even demand, behaviours that can only be described from outside the system as evil’ (p.5). The book has excellent and telling pictures as well as a compelling text. I have noticed it in Borders, on sale for only $7.99. There is no reason not to rush out and buy this.

Martin Forward

Posted by admin on March 03, 2008

Peace Cantata “Halelu-Songs of David” to be Presented in Cyprus

Peace Cantata “Halelu-Songs of David” to be Presented in Cyprus

The peace cantata, Halelu-Songs of David, will be presented at the annual summer EDAS Performing

Arts Workshop in Cyprus on the 9th July, 2008. Inspired by the peace advocacy of the guest artists,

EDAS Workshop director, Nili Glazer has adopted the theme “Creating Peace Through Art” for this

year’s workshop. The purpose of this particular workshop and based on its location (Cyprus) is to

especially bring together students of the arts from countries around the Euro-Mediterranean area and

young artists from all over the world to live, work together as one team for 3 weeks, develop personal

contacts, artistic exchange of ideas and perform.

The EDAS orchestra and chorus will be mentored by three international artists, David Eaton, music

director of the New York City Symphony, renowned Israeli vocalist/composer, David D’Or and

acclaimed Japanese soprano, Seiko Lee. The concert will take place on July 9th at the historic seaside

Curium Amphitheater in Limassol, Cyprus. Mr. Eaton will conduct and Mr. D’Or and Miss Lee will

perform the solo vocal roles.

International choreographer Lyn C. Wiltshire from University of Texas and Salzburg Ballet prima

ballerina, Christina Uta will also contribute their artistry to the presentation of Halelu as they will

choreograph and train the dancers. Ms. Cristina Uta will perform to several movements of the music.

Cyprus Government and several international Embassies are co-sponsoring the performance in

partnership with the EDAS Workshop. ( HYPERLINK "" )

Halelu Cantata

David D’Or and David Eaton first met in 2004 at the International Convention Center in

Israel at the concert promoting Interfaith Unity. In 2005 they initiated the joint effort of

composing Halelu and the music was subsequently recorded in Tel Aviv in 2006 with the

Ra’anana Symphony Orchestra and the Philharmonia Chorus of Israel. The ten-

movement cantata is an expression of the composers’ desire to cultivate a culture

of peace. The hope for musicians and artists to be Ambassadors for Peace by using their

creative endeavors to promote understanding, healing and reconciliation lies at the heart

of their collaboration. Mr. D’Or, Mr. Eaton and Miss Lee have performed internationally,

advocating the importance of building bridges through the art of music.

Halelu was presented twice in Europe in 2007 including the world premiere

performance at the Sava Center in Belgrade, Serbia with Mr. Eaton, Mr. D’Or and Ms.

Lee appearing as the featured artists. The audience of 3,000 included Princess Elizabeth

of Yugoslavia and 40 international ambassadors and diplomats. That performance was

broadcast live on television to six Eastern European countries. A second

performance of Halelu took place in Sofia, Bulgaria in October 2007 and was also broadcast on

Bulgarian National Radio.

Posted by admin on March 03, 2008

Pakistani Christians protest against disrespectful sketches on Islam

Karachi, Feb 27 : The Pakistani Christians on Wednesday protested against the printing of blasphemous cartoons in the Western media.

Bishop Sadiq Daniel led the demonstration that was staged in front of Karachi Press Club.

Raising slogans against the European newspapers, the demonstrators carried placards and banners against the western media.

Daniel condemned the profane and offensive sketches printed in Denmark and said they have gathered to express solidarity with their Muslim brothers.

The Bishop demanded the Pakistani Government to raise issue in the international community to stop sacrilegious printing; adding Pakistan's Christian brethren are with them, The News reported.

Posted by admin on February 27, 2008


Please volunteer to help with the important mission of IRFWP dot org

Work as a project intern online


Frank Kaufmann
[email protected]

Posted by admin on February 27, 2008

Read the most recent newlsetter from the Elijah Interfaith Institute

NEWS UPDATE: Elijah Board of World Religious Leaders Meeting in Amritsar, India

The Elijah Board of World Religious Leader held its third bi-annual meeting in Amritsar, India, November 26-30, 2007. The meeting was hosted by the Guru Nanak Niskam Sewak Jata, headed by Bhai Sahib Mohinder Singh. This Birmingham based group extended the most memorable hospitality to all participants. Volunteer

cooks flew at their expense to India in order to be able to serve participants with love. Many other volunteers from the community were involved, thereby making it a community-wide event.

The meeting was scheduled to take place in part in Dharamsala, where His Holiness the Dalai Lama was to host us. Due to changes in his travel plans, he was unable to host us there. Nevertheless, he retained, in some sense, his status as co-host of the meeting. In addition, he spent almost the entire meeting with the group, which far exceeds his usual involvement as well as his earlier commitment to this group. It was made clear to us that this is a sign of how much he believes in the work of this group and how excited he was to be a part of it.

The location of the meeting certainly played a part in its charm and success. The newly inaugurated Sikh conference center is only a block away from the Golden Temple complex. Vistas of the Temple complex can be seen from the rooms and the roof. Participants were able to walk to the Temple at various hours, particularly in the early morning hours to benefit from the inspiration of the faith and practice of the Sikh community. One of the participants remarked that Amritsar is the only city in India in which one does not see beggars, due to the Sikh system of offering free meals at their temples, as part of their community ritual. These meals are offered to all alike, rich and poor, thereby removing the social marks of distinction that could get in the way of successful support of the poor. Sikh spirituality, hospitality and piety informed the entire meeting, within the conference center and outside it.

As in previous meetings of the Elijah Board of World Religious Leaders, the leaders have met following preparation by a think tank, created by the Elijah Interfaith Academy. The think tank, comprising 12 scholars from 6 religions, met in June at the Fetzer Institute, in Kalamazoo Michigan. Following the meeting, 6 position papers on the theme “Sharing Wisdom: The Case of Love and Forgiveness”, were prepared, representing the perspectives of Sikhism, Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, Judaism and Buddhism. These papers, together with a summary paper, pointing to the commonalities and accomplishments of the project, were disseminated in advance of the meeting. The meeting was divided between work in small groups and in plenary. Thematically, the discussions explored the various aspects related to sharing wisdom - what is wisdom; why share; dangers in sharing; what we would like to share. It was clear that the high point of the meeting was the almost day long discussion of what we would like to share. The issue was formulated as follows: what have we learned from another tradition that we would like to bring back to our own community? This formulation shifted attention from what each tradition would consider its gift and contribution to others to a more personal statement that made room for acknowledging what had been received and what had been learnt from others. The focus on bringing it back to the community allowed the leaders to reflect as leaders of communities and not simply as individual religious personalities. There was unanimity that our process must be brought down to community level. This is particularly so in view of the strong sense of bonding, community building and personal transformation that accompanied the meeting.

Discussions followed from the more theoretical reflections on sharing wisdom to one particular case of sharing, on the theme of love and forgiveness. Discussions explored the theoretical basis for forgiveness and touched upon specific cases of communities, in relation to one another, that required forgiveness. His Holiness the Dalai Lama offered an extensive reflection on the philosophical basis of his own practice and attitude towards the Chinese, who occupy his country. This was both theoretical and personal. Observers commented that they had never heard him speak in such detail and such depth when addressing outside audiences, and that this form of teaching and depth is usually reserved for his teaching within the community. Those observers took this as a sign of the degree of comfort the Dalai Lama felt within our group and as confirmation of the sense of intimacy and depth that he attributed to this specific gathering.

Additional case studies for discussions on love and forgiveness were provided by the think tank, from relevant cases that draw upon Hindu, Jewish and Christian attitudes to love and forgiveness. These can be found in the respective position papers. The papers of the think tank can be found on Elijah's website,

The cycle of work from small group to plenary was expanded to include the public at large. One afternoon was devoted to a program at Guru Nanak Dev University. The program consisted of a public forum, on the theme of "How Should Our Religions Share Their Wisdom". Speakers from each of the traditions shared with the public the gist of the process the group had engaged in. The meeting was attended by hundreds of students and visitors to the university and was extensively covered by the media.

The final day was thus devoted to a visit to Dharamsala

The visit included the local Temple, Museum, Tibetan Parliament in exile and cultural centers. We were received by the minister of religious affairs. The visit to Dharamsala was much more than a tourist visit. It has been our custom to incorporate touring to religious sites as part of the educational experience of these meetings. The educational opportunities provided by this tour were immense, making the tour highly enriching.

Meeting Participants

His Holiness the Dalai Lama, India

Sheikh Mohammed Mohammed Ali, UK

Jan Chozen and Hogen Bays, USA

Chandra Swami, India

Sri Sri Sugunendra Theertha Swamiji, India

Cardinal Telesphore Placidus Toppo, India

Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, UK

Swami Shatatmananda, India

Rabbi Richard Marker, USA

Rabbi Joseph Azran, Israel

Ven. Bhikkuni Kusuma, Sri Lanka

Dr. Nazeer Ahmed, USA

Bhai Sahib Mohinder Singh, UK

Bishop Gali Bali, India

Swami Atmapriyananda, India

Dharma Master Hsin Tao, Taiwan

Ven. Jinwol Sunim, Korea

Swami Swatantranand, India

Rabbi Awraham Soetendorp, the Netherlands

Rabbi Shear Yashuv Cohen, Israel

Dr. Adamou Ndam Njoya, Cameroon

Guruji Sri Rishi Prabhakarji, India

Sheikh Muhammad Nur Abdullah, USA

Rabbi Naftali Brawer, UK

Ven. Sanghasena Mahathera, India

Moulana Umer Ahmed Ilyasi, India

Ven. Khandro Rinpoche, India

The Meeting was facilitated and prepared by the following Think Tank Members:

Prof. Pal Ahluwalia

Sr. Therese Andrevon

Prof. Timothy Gianotti

Rabbi Dr. Alon Goshen-Gottstein

Prof. Sallie B. King

Prof. B. Barry Levy

Prof. Anantanand Rambachan

Prof. Vanessa Sasson

Kurt G. Schreiber

Rabbi Dr. Meir Sendor

Prof. Johann Marie Vento

Prof. Miroslav Volf


NEWS UPDATE: Amritsar Participants Share their Experience

The following are but two of the many comments made by participants at the Amritsar meeting:

His Holiness the Dalai Lama, India: "This is the most intimate and most profound interfaith group in whose work I have been involved. Elijah is Unique."

Rabbi Awraham Soetendorp, Holland: "In Elijah, the careful preparation by a panel of scholars of background papers, delving into the subject matter (in this latest case: Sharing Wisdom),summarising the results of dialogues in the past and adding a personal evaluation, all this paves the way for those who take up responsibility of religious leadership to listen and speak more with their heart. To take up a fresh approach, to achieve together a deeper understanding of the other and to strengthen mutual trust. Thus a spiritual event is engendered that allows for personal discovery, the search for new meaning, in a self-critical, yet unassuming, manner. Thus gradually a community of religious leadership forms itself."

I see in Elijah the emergence of a true council of religious leaders that is able and granted to assume the so much needed role of moral leadership.


NEWS UPDATE: Remembering Daniel W. Hardy

Elijah mourns the passing away of Daniel W. Hardy of Cambridge University. Dan was a member of Elijah's academic advisory board and followed Elijah's development with care and passion since its establishment. Dan was an ordained Anglican Theologian, associated with the General Theological Seminary, University of Birmingham and the Princeton Center of Theological Inquiry, where he served as the director, and where I (Alon Goshen-Gottstein) first met him. Dan's interests in Wisdom and its relationship to love were closely related to Elijah's own emphasis on the wisdom of faith traditions. He was one of Elijah's wisest counselors and will be sorely missed.


SHARING WISDOM: The Amritsar Declaration

The following declaration captures the spirit of the Amritsar meeting. We would be grateful if you could help disseminate this declaration. Kindly consider posting it on your department's bulletin board, sharing it with your friends, your e-lists, etc. Please become our partner in sharing the fruits of our deliberations with others.

Concluding Statement of the Board of World Religious Leaders

A project of the Elijah Interfaith Academy

Amritsar, Punjab, India

26-30 November 2007

We, the Board of World Religious Leaders, representing 6 of the World's great Religious Traditions, have just concluded our third biennial meeting. This gathering in Amritsar, the holy city of Sikhism, was characterized by a profound sense of openness, mutuality, respect for one another's faith, and trust. The sense of shared spiritual longing pervaded our deliberations our and our commitment to taking our learnings from our meeting to the larger world infused our discussions. There was both an intimacy to our discourse and expansiveness to our vision. Through this Declaration, we invite others to join with us in affirming the profound Wisdom of our religious traditions and how that wisdom can inform the world.

Our meetings have not taken place in a vacuum. We are building on the insights of the previous meetings of the board and of the august Think Tank of scholars whose teachings guided our work. We have previously articulated the many and often overwhelming needs which we feel mandate our attention. In light of our earlier statements, we, the teachers of wisdom of religious traditions acknowledge that none of our traditions is exempt from the responsibility to address the crises of our time.

Our Mandate

Although there are no facile solutions to the ills of the world, we must reaffirm our commitment to do all we can to alleviate present suffering and to contribute to a solution of those problems that we can address.

We wish to state our recognition that in the world's present state, all traditions have become interdependent, and must therefore face the challenges of the world in a collaborative manner.

We wish to affirm our belief that within our traditions are resources of wisdom that can speak to the ills of society and the misuse of religion.

We wish to call upon all our religions to offer their finest teachings as resources to guide humanity to safe harbor, and to identify the teachings they can jointly offer a suffering humanity.

We wish to further call upon practitioners of all religions to become aware of the life wisdom and spiritual wisdom of all religious traditions, as a means of obtaining a truer understanding of other religions, in the service of peaceful living.

We invite thinkers and religious leaders to explore the possibility of addressing their own internal crises in light of the experiences and accumulated wisdom of other religious traditions.

Our Respect for Our Own and Other Traditions

While we recognize the need of the hour points to opening towards the other, rather than to isolation, leading to violence and enmity, we call attention to the following considerations that are the basis of respectful learning and sharing between people, as individuals and as representatives of religious traditions

· Sharing Wisdom should never lead to the violation of the integrity of religious identity. Sharing wisdom is not a means of influencing others to change or abandon their religious identity, either willfully or by coercion, but rather an invitation to deepen it and become more faithful to it.

· Sharing Wisdom has a broad universal mandate, almost a human right, grounded in the dignity of the human being, as understood diversely by our religious traditions. It is closely related to the right of religious freedom. As a spiritual process, it should be broadly open, beyond considerations of gender, caste and other forms of limitation.

· Sharing Wisdom should respect the integrity of religious teachings. It should not lead to the cheapening of teaching, nor to the loss of authenticity. Consequently, care must be taken to be mindful and respectful of broader theological structures, within which wisdom is couched, and to the internal processes, commitments and conditions that are necessary for successful realization of the age old wisdom of religious traditions.

· Sharing Wisdom implies responsibility on the part of leaders. Our words and our actions should be accompanied by careful consideration of what forms of wisdom are most suitable to broad sharing with others, so that wisdom is always shared with value and integrity.

Our Aspiration and Prayer

It is our faith that the ills of the world and the abuses done in the name of religions may be addressed through an attitude of openness to sharing and learning from one another. In an increasingly interdependent world we are called to share our wisdom, to offer it to others, and to listen to what they in turn have to offer. It is our sincere hope and prayer that such sharing, carried out in the right spirit, will make our traditions better vehicles to achieve their designated purpose and will make the world a better and more peaceful place in which our religions and humanity can flourish.

The Elijah Interfaith Institute
Phone: +972-2-672-9276 , Skype: adminelijah

10 Caspi Street
93554 Jerusalem
The Elijah Interfaith Institute is a 501© (3) organization. All donations are US tax-exempt.

Posted by admin on January 30, 2008

Israeli-Palestinian Workshop on Education for Peace - Tantur, Jerusalem


מרכז ישראל/פלסטין למחקר ולמידע

مركز إسرائيل فلسطين للأبحاث و المعلومات

Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information

Israeli-Palestinian Workshop on Education for Peace

April 11-12, 2008

Tantur, Jerusalem

Following the huge success of the workshop of January 2008 we are holding the Second Peace Education Workshop that will once again bring together peace educators, curricula writers, encounter facilitators, peace studies practitioners, conflict resolution practitioners, mediators, and activists from academia, research sector, governmental and community organizations and others from Israel, Palestine and beyond.

The Workshop will once again be a tremendous opportunity for dialogue, debate and visioning with collaboration and cooperation between the body of theory and practice. The Workshop will be meeting grounds for dialogue and mutual learning from the field of peace education from the viewpoint of academia and from the field of practioners. The Workshop will raise critical issues and acquire new insights into the profound peace education developments in Israel, Palestine and around the world. Furthermore, the Workshop will provide an excellent opportunity to build connections across multi-disciplinary sectors.

Registration is open through April 2, 2008.

Participation – Call for Abstracts

IPCRI is calling on potential participants to submit an abstract for making a presentation at the workshop. This is not a formal academic conference therefore; abstracts will be evaluated on a wider basis than the normal academic criteria. We are looking for creative, exciting and innovative approaches to peace education.

The deadline for abstract submission is April 2, 2008.

With the letter you will find:

A registration form

  • An abstract form
  • A form for Palestinians who need a permit to enter Israel

There is limited space – the first to register will guarantee a place

Explanation about costs and finances:

Costs, budgets and finances

We have no funding for this workshop. In the last workshop, almost everyone asked for a full or partial scholarship. We will try to raise funds to support scholarships. We cannot promise anything at this point. But our policy is that everyone who has something to contribute and to benefit from participating will participate. Lack of funds will not stand in the way.

We are requesting that everyone pay as much as you can afford taking into account the real costs of this workshop:

The price for the workshop for 2 days, full board, a bed, and the program is 500 NIS (about $140).

The price for the workshop for 2 days, meals and program without a bed is 380 NIS (about $100)

These costs do not include any salary money for IPCRI staff who will be working hundreds of hours preparing and planning the workshop.

We cannot afford to give a full scholarship to everyone who asks for it. Therefore, we are asking everyone to pay something – as much as you can afford and believe is appropriate.

We would request that you pay at the time of registration by check or online. That will help us to plan our finances.

Sleeping arrangements

We only have 70 beds in Tantur this time. We need extra places for people to stay over in Jerusalem. Please indicate on the registration form if you need a bed or if you have other arrangements.

Please also indicate if you have extra places at your home in Jerusalem for people to stay over.








Gershon Baskin and Hanna Siniora, CEOs, IPCRI

Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information

P.O. Box 9321, Jerusalem 91092

Tel: +972-2-676-9460

Cellphone: +972-(0)52-238-1715

[email protected] [email protected]

Posted by admin on January 29, 2008

Essay on Tribalism by Sheikh Dr. Shaheed Satardien

Tribal Value – Trials and Tribulations

With the ushering in of 2008 which is also the 60th anniversary of the Human rights Charter of the United Nations, it is appropriate to address the recent incineration of women and children in a Kenyan Church during its recent (and on-going) tribal conflict. It was indeed a terrible twin of the Mosques in Pakistan being blown up during its recent tribulations. In both examples shrines of worship were used as crematoriums of convenience by those opposed to the people inside the shrines. The perpetrators of these crimes cared not a whit for their Creator during their insane rampage. Their focus was purely on destroying those different from them. Kenya is predominantly Christian, whilst Pakistan is predominantly Muslim, but in both countries tribal affiliation is as significant as religious adherence.

At one point in recent weeks one feared that Kenya would follow the path of Rwanda, which also featured tribal
conflict (between the Hutus and Tutsis). The issue of tribes, whether it is the Hausa and Igbo tribes of Nigeria, or
the Zulu and Xhosa tribes of South Africa, displays in sharp reprieve one of the tremendous difficulties of many
so-called 3rd World states. Their creation was in many cases a line drawn on a map by someone from the 1 st World and bore little relation to tribal realities on the ground. So tribes, which sometimes had tremendous mutual animosities long before the 1st World arrived on their doorstep to exacerbate them, were forcibly lumped together - to hang together or hang separately. Unfortunately hanging separately seems to be the preferred solution in Africa like the present violence of Kenya's Kalenjin tribe that is forcing the exodus of the Kikuyus.

When Kenya, hitherto one of the most stable countries in Africa, threatens to implode, the question as to the future of the continent arises, yet again. Zimbabwe, once the bread-basket of the region is now the basket-case of the region. Nigeria, which should be one of the wealthiest countries in the world - based on its oil reserves - continues to literally be a splendid alleged mess. Meanwhile the Congo with its vast mineral reserves is a free-for-all supermarket of riches for the murderous klepto-crats in the region.

The part that tribal affiliation plays in this does not really get the prominence it should. We are very familiar with the Nationalist and Unionist tribes of Northern Ireland, and the part those tribal affiliations played in that long disaster. We are somewhat familiar with the Flemish and Walloon tribes of Belgium which regularly threaten to fragment that country and mortally embarrass the EU in Brussels. But somehow we do not easily transfer this knowledge to the tribal issues of Africa and other regions.

There is no doubt that the human sense of belonging is very important, and that a tribe can give something to belong to. Whether the tribe is Goth music lovers, Manchester United fans, the Shan tribe of Burma, or the desert Bedouin, the people that belong to them get comfort from the extended family that such tribes represent. But as with everything human there is a dark side, and this dark side is represented most starkly in Africa where tribal affiliation can mean life or death in societies in chaos.

In Northern Ireland one's "adherence" to the Nationalist tribe was often determined by others on the basis of a surname. So, on that basis one could get shot just because one's surname happened to be O'Flaherty. Sadly the same surname sanction is going on in Kenya as the tribes get busy cleansing their area of those unlucky enough to be named inconveniently.

This lunacy, extreme as it is, must serve as a warning to us in cosy Western Civilisation. It does not take long for stability to be endangered when tribal affiliation becomes the "be and end all" of a society. The risk of conflict in Kosovo between the Albanian and Serbian tribes is quite real.

The only answer to this insanity of course is to appeal to the sense of belonging to the largest tribe of all – the tribe of humanity. It is that tribe that the religions are uniquely placed to emphasise. It is about time the faiths got serious about doing it.

Sheikh Dr. Shaheed Satardien
Director of the Intercultural Peace Centre
Ireland Director of the office for the
International Islamic Forum for Dialogue (IIFD)
Chairman of the European Muslim Council
for Justice, Peace and Equality
Chairman of the Muslim Council
of Ireland (MCI)
Professor of Islamic Studies
and Arabic Language
Saor Ollscoil Na hEireann
(Free University of Ireland)
Dublin 7

+353 1 8218485

Posted by admin on January 08, 2008

Please read this report from Anuvrat Global Organization (ANUVIBHA)

The Voice of Ahimsa from Children’s Peace Palace – Rajsamand (INDIA)

The two major events of the 6th ICPNA organized by ANUVIBHA on the eve of its Silver Jubilee i.e. International Dialogue on the Challenge of Violence, Hunger and Poverty and the First International Nonviolence Leadership Training Camp were a great success in that the purposes with which they were planned were accomplished. They were a part of a series of such endeavours we undertake from time to time to build a culture of peace and nonviolence in consonance with the spirit of the UN Decade of a Culture of Peace and Nonviolence for the Children of the World (2001-2010).

Though the number of overseas participants was just 25 hailing from ten countries, those who came were imbued with deep insights into ahimsa and firm commitment to a noble cause. They not only shared their views on the problems of violence, hunger and poverty which, as a matter of fact, adversely affect mostly children of the earth, but also participated devoutly in the three-day First International Nonviolence Leadership Training Camp held under the direct guidance of the two apostles of ahimsa - His Holiness Acharya Mahapragya and Yuvacharya Mahashraman. Though they belong to a Jain tradition as ascetics, to them human religion, shorn of all labels, precedes everything else. Their sole concern is about the tide of violence and hatred, ironically enough in the name of religion, which is slowly closing in humankind and taking a heavy toll of innocent human lives. They believe that the challenge can be met only if children, youths and adults are trained in ahimsa (nonviolence) at a global level. Mere preaching will not do, so Acharya Mahapragya, the spiritual patron of Anuvibha, has introduced a practical course based on some meditational techniques coupled with yogic exercises and mudras. The course is geared towards a specific purpose to help the trainees to look within and wipe out all negative tendencies that cause violence. Apart from a few hours' elucidation of the conceptual understanding of ahimsa, the trainees at the first international nonviolence leadership training were also exposed to several physical postures and breathing exercises.

The environment at the Peace Palace was conducive to the evolution of inner peace. The scenic beauty that enveloped the hill and the backdrop of a lake only added to the intensity of the impact of the training. The trainees felt transformed and resolved to carry the sunshine to their countries and radiate the message of ahimsa. The presence of more than eighty Indian participants at the camp augured well for our country.

The six days at the Children’s Peace Palace i.e. 23rd Dec. to 28th Dec. passed off swiftly. Not only the dialogue was intensive, the three-day nonviolence training was an unforgettable experience. The last two days i.e. 29th and 30th Dec. were dedicated to the celebration of the Silver Jubilee of ANUVIBHA in the benign presence of the two most revered spiritual leaders. Anuvrat workers associated with Anuvibha looked back nostalgically and gave the audience a vivid portrayal of Anuvibha's zig-zag journey of 25 years. Both His Holiness Acharya Mahapragya and Yuvacharya Mahashraman lauded the efforts of Anuvrat workers and expressed satisfaction at Anuvibha's efforts to promote a culture of peace and nonviolence and organize a worldwide campaign to train people in ahimsa.

Acharya Mahapragya observed, "Training in nonviolence is the prime need of the day. It is the only way to create a peaceful world. Unfortunately training in killing goes on unabated in all parts of the world but no training is being imparted in nonkilling. Anuvibha has a great responsibility to popularize nonviolence training as an antidote to a culture of killing that pervades the planet. Though the task is challenging, ANUVIBHA must pursue it doggedly." With these words ringing in our ears the eight-day celebration came to a joyous end.

ANUVIBHA workers are happy that despite several difficulties the Silver Jubilee Celebration as well as its events was a great success.

Dr. S.L. Gandhi

President, ANUVIBHA

Anuvrat Global Organization (ANUVIBHA)

Opposite Gaurav Tower, Malviya Nagar

JAIPUR-302 017 (India)

Tel : 91-141-4017989/5127358

Fax: 91-141-4017989/2710118

Mobile: 098280-16989

Email: [email protected]

[email protected]

Web :

Posted by admin on January 03, 2008

Statement from the Irish Supreme Muslim Coucil on the Assassination of Dr. Benazir Bhutto

e-mai l: [email protected]

PRESS RELEASE – 27th December 2007

On behalf of the Supreme Muslim Council of Ireland we wish to express our outrage at the assassination of Ms. Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan. Whatever one's opinion of Ms. Bhutto's politics, she remained a patriot to her country, a strong advocate of women's rights in a patriarchal society, and fearless in the face of numerous threats on her life from extremists.

Her murder represents a direct attack on democracy, not only in Pakistan but through-out the region. T he Pakistani nation will require their state to rescue its people from these dark days illustrated by this terrible tragedy and cowardly act by despotic people into the light of peace.

Her murder is a sad reflection of the innate horror that permeates the Muslim World and unless Muslims can rise to destroy this paradigm of hate, more horrific murders will take place.

Bhutto's death is a terrible tragedy and an historic act of brutality which must not be allowed to go unpunished. The present Benazir Bhutto stood for everything people wanted in Pakistan, a tolerant, plural and democratic Islam; therefore her death should convulse all forces standing for the good.

We hope that it will not be very hard to find a Pakistan in peace after this.

Ms. Bhutto will be remembered by all the freedom- loving people of the world and her death must be the seed of democracy and social justice in Pakistan.

We call on the authorities in Pakistan to leave no stone unturned in bringing the perpetrators to justice, and to restore the right of the people to choose their political leadership without the duress of force from those who wish to ferment chaos.

Sheikh Shaheed Satardien – Chairman

Mohammed AlKabour – Secretary

Tauseef Sarwar – Treasurer

Posted by admin on December 27, 2007

Appeal from the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding


Dear Friends,

In March 1965, Rabbi Tanenbaum could be found in Selma, Alabama, marching side by side with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in support of voting rights for Black Americans.

In October 1965, Rabbi Tanenbaum could be found in Rome – the heart and soul of Catholic Christiandom – as the only Jew present at the signing of Nostra Aetate, a revolutionary document calling for increased dialogue between Catholicism and other religions and marking the beginning of the end of 2000 years of mutual animosity.

In the late 60s and early 70s, he protested the Nigerian-Biafra War and could be found organizing airlifts of food and supplies to displaced Biafran refugees.

In the 1980s, he was on the border of Cambodia and Thailand, offering a prayer for the thousands of lives lost under the despotic rule of the Khmer Rouge.

In between, Rabbi Tanenbaum could be found in churches, government offices, synagogues, bible colleges and non-profits around the world spreading his message of our mutual humanity and condemning how “religious, racial and ethnic hatreds have become the engine of an epidemic of dehumanization in the world.”

His legacy is our work.

Tanenbaum was founded in 1992 immediately following Rabbi Tanenbaum’s death. We work to stop the “engine of dehumanization” by giving people the tools to appreciate difference, eradicate fear of the other and to live in a religiously plural, multicultural world. Just as our namesake combined his message with work on the ground, we reach people with practical programs that make a real difference in how we treat one another every day.

  • Religion & Diversity Education finds children where they are – in school – and provides the foundational knowledge they need to grow into curious and respectful adults.
  • Religious Diversity in the Workplace finds adults where they are – at work – and gives them the skills to interact with and serve religiously diverse populations in a meaningful and inclusive way.
  • Religion & Conflict Resolution carries on Rabbi Tanenbaum’s human rights work where it’s most needed – in areas of armed conflict – by supporting and publicizing the work of unrecognized local peacebuilders who draw on religion to do their work.
  • Special Programs continues his seminal work in Jewish-Christian (and now, Jewish-Christian-Muslim) relations with the many interreligious dialogue organizations that would not exist if not for the ground he paved.

At Tanenbaum, we’re inspired by Rabbi Tanenbaum’s incredible work. We feel privileged to help keep his legacy alive, and we hope that you, too, are inspired.

As 2007 draws to a close and we look forward to a year of continued expansion, we would be honored if you would add Tanenbaum to your giving list.

Your support is what makes our work – Rabbi Tanenbaum’s work – possible.

You can make a general donation or support a specific program – provide books for one elementary classroom, or sponsor one of our peacebuilders. Visit our website to donate now, or contact us to learn more about all the ways you can support Tanenbaum.

Here’s to 2008 and another year of building on Rabbi Tanenbaum’s legacy!

In friendship,


Joyce S. Dubensky, Esq.
Executive Vice President
Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding
254 West 31st Street, 7th Floor
New York, NY 10001
ph (212) 967-7707 x 110
fax (212) 967-9007
[email protected]

Support Tanenbaum--Moving Beyond Differences

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254 W. 31st Street, 7th Floor
New York, NY 10001

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Posted by admin on December 13, 2007

Read of the great work from Pujya Swamiji Chidanand Saraswati

Our Brother Pujya Swamiji Chidanand Saraswati lives and conducts a massive ministry derived from his divine presence.

Please read about his activities in his newsletter (<-- click link).

Posted by admin on December 09, 2007

“Role of Youth in Promoting the ‘Culture of Peace’ in the World”

MAEER’s MIT, Pune, India is celebrating its “Silver Jubilee Year” during 2007-08. Apart from the various activities planned during the year, this World Peace Congress - 2008 is high on agenda.

“World Peace Congress - 2008”, under the UNESCO Chair of World Peace Centre, MAEER’s MIT, Pune, India coinciding with the 60th Death Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi/Martyr’s Day, from Wednesday, the 30th January 2008 to Saturday, the 2nd February 2008

Posted by admin on December 02, 2007

Religion: Russian Orthodox Bishop Discusses Orthodox-Catholic Rapprochement

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Turkey -- Ecumenical Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I (L) welcomes Pope Benedict XVI at the St. George Church in Istanbul, 30Nov2006
PRAGUE, November 30, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- As Pope Benedict XVI visits Turkey for dialogue with Orthodox Christian leaders, there is new attention being given to prospects for reconciliation between the two major branches of Christendom. RFE/RL correspondent Jeffrey Donovan spoke to Bishop Illarion Alfeyev, the Russian Orthodox Church's representative in Vienna to European institutions, about why the Catholic and Orthodox Christian churches want to move closer, and about what keeps them apart.
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Posted by admin on November 27, 2007

Pope to create 23 new cardinals

Pope to create 23 new cardinals
Agence France-Presse Last updated 06:21pm (Mla time) 11/24/2007

VATICAN CITY -- Twenty-three new cardinals were to kneel before Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday to accept their birettas -- square red hats -- during a time-honored ceremony inducting them into the elite body that advises and elects popes.

The 23 new "princes of the Church," of whom five are 80 or older and thus ineligible to vote in a papal election, will fill out the ranks of the College of Cardinals to 201, including 120 cardinal-electors.

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Posted by admin on November 24, 2007

Canadian Muslim group seeks high-minded preaching

Canada: Muslim admits preachers should adapt to 'realities'


The burgeoning Muslim population in Quebec, [Canada] is organizing itself to avoid "exaggerated" demands for special treatment and rein in "preachers of hate," the Bouchard-Taylor commission heard yesterday.

"The Muslim community is large, but distinctions must be made," said Abdallah Annab, president of a Moroccan group, which represents many of the 1,500 Muslims in the Eastern Townships region of Quebec.

His association prepared its brief with the Sunni Muslim association in Sherbrooke. "But we do suggest that there be limits to what (Muslim) preachers say. They should adapt to the reality here and understand the realities of Quebec society," Mr. Annab said.

The commission is seeking ways to better integrate cultural and religious minorities into Quebec.

Posted by admin on November 24, 2007

Modest success at the AAR

New World Encyclopedia was presented during the reception of the Inter Religious Federation for World Peace (IRFWP) at the annual conference of the American Academy of Religion (AAR) . Frank Kaufmann, moderated the session in which Arts and Literature editor, David Burgess, and History and Biography Editor, Clinton Bennett offered presentations (accompanied by power point) to explain issues surrounding fact and value as pertains to their respective areas of editorial responsibility.

We wished for a better turn out in the "voluntary" environment of convention receptions, but we are grateful indeed for the strong and sincere interest plainly shown by those in attendance. Professors and students included those from Yale, Calvin, Fuller, and others. For this we are grateful.

The catering and banquet services from the Manchester Grand Hyatt, for the reception following the panel presentation, were exceptional. We extend our thanks and happily make mention here of their fine support for our event.

On the morning following our reception, editors present taped interviews for films that are now in production to accompany the forthcoming release of the New World Encyclopedia. Hard Rock Hotel, whom we also wish sincerely to thank, generously provided free space for filming.

Here are a few images of our time together.

Posted by admin on November 19, 2007

Archbishop Vicken Aykazian is installed as President of NCC

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From "NCC News" <[email protected]>
Date Fri, 09 Nov 2007 21:59:05 -0400

(NCC News) Archbishop Vicken Aykazian is installed as President of NCC

New York, November 9, 2007--Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, a Turkish-born priest who represents the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern) in Washington, was installed Thursday (November 8) as the president of the National Council of Churches in the USA (NCC).

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On January 1, 2008, the Archbishop will succeed President Michael Livingston, who has served in the office since January 2006.

His Eminence Archbishop Aykazian is the 24th NCC President since the Council's beginnings in 1950.

He is the third Orthodox president and the first from the Oriental Orthodox tradition. (Other Orthodox presidents were the Very Rev. Leonid Kishkovsky, Orthodox Church in America, 1990-91, and Elenie K. Huszagh, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, 2002-03

Vicken Aykazian was born in Siirt, Turkey, in 1951. He studied theology at the Armenian Patriarchate in Jerusalem and was ordained a deacon in 1968 and later a celibate priest in 1971.

In 1992, His Holiness Vasken I, Catholicos of All Armenians at Holy Echmiadzin in Armenia, ordained him a bishop.

Archbishop Aykazian, who holds a Ph.D in history and is working on a second Ph.D in theology at Catholic University in Washington, is an active ecumenist. In addition to his contributions to the NCC as a member of the Governing Board, he has been active in the World Council of Churches as a member of the Mission and Evangelism Unit, the Orthodox Task Force and the Central Committee.

The archbishop is the legate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern) in Washington, and ecumenical officer.

He has also served as Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church in Switzerland from 1992 to 1996.

As pastor of the Armenian Church of Switzerland from 1980 to 1992, he established and organized new church communities in Zurich, Bern, Kreazlingen and Lugano.

Archbishop Aykazian is fluent in English, Armenian, French and Turkish.

Since its founding in 1950, the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA has been the leading force for ecumenical cooperation among Christians in the United States.

The NCC's member faith groups -- representing a wide spectrum of Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox, historic African American and Living Peace churches ? include 45 million persons in more than 100,000 local congregations in communities across the nation.


NCC News contact: Philip Jenks, 212.870.2228, [email protected] Latest NCC News at

Posted by admin on November 10, 2007

Muslims, Catholics Reach Accord

Reports on positive developments from a local interfaith effort

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Concluding a three-day gathering at the nation's largest mosque, a collection of Muslim and Roman Catholic leaders emerged with a 114-word blueprint for greater understanding between the two faiths.

Several dozen participants weighed tough questions - including ideas for guidelines governing attempts to convert Muslims to Catholicism and Catholics to Islam - and approved a mission statement to guide future dialogue.

"Our common belief in the one God of mercy and love calls us into relationship with one another," the statement reads. "Therefore we see our dialogue as a spiritual journey. Common ethical concerns compel us to take responsibility for our relationship within U.S. society."

Posted by admin on November 10, 2007

Religious Leaders Launch New Effort to Resolve Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

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An independent group of Palestinian and Israeli religious leaders, meeting in Washington, has launched an initiative to help resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
the Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land, said they are working closely with the political leaders of Israel and the Palestinian authority to support current peace initiatives.
Muslim, Jewish and Christian leaders say a key element of their plan to strengthen the Middle East peace process is creating an environment of mutual respect. They say religious leaders from the three faiths
"One of the reasons that peace processes have not succeeded in the past is their failing to engage the religious leaderships constructively.
Interfaith group leaders attending the conference in Washington 07 Nov. 2007
Interfaith group leaders attending the conference in Washington 07 Nov. 2007
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Posted by admin on November 10, 2007

New from the visit of King Abdullah and HH Benedict XVI

Pope praises 'hard-working' Christians to Saudi king

Pope Benedict XVI raised the issue of Christians living in Saudi Arabia in a historic meeting Tuesday with King Abdullah, the first monarch of the ultra-conservative Muslim kingdom to visit the Vatican.

During their talks, which also touched on conflicts in the Middle East, the pope highlighted "the positive and hard-working presence of the Christians" in Saudi Arabia, a Vatican communique said.

The two men also stressed "the value of collaboration among Christians, Muslims and Jews" and renewed a commitment to "intercultural and inter-faith dialogue with the goal of peaceful and fruitful coexistence," the statement said.

read more |
Posted by admin on November 06, 2007

Help without frontiers - Help Burmese monks

This is a reprint of the October newsletter of Help Without Froniers

The last weeks were quite exhausting. We thank for all the sympathy and solidarity and beg your pardon, if lately we did not post messages on our blackboard. We will do retroactive. Please help the people in Burma and the refugees NOW! They need your help and support more than ever. We registered in the US, American donors can donate with full tax benefits. Thanks also for your encouragement and all the blessings. A ray of sunshine, a ray of hope, your HELP WITHOUT FRONTIERS team

1. BURMA: This time there is hope
2. IN THE MEDIA: Help Without Frontiers was a demanded interlocutor
3. NEVERTHLESS: A party celebrating 5 years of Help Without Frontiers
4. CHARITY EXHIBITION: The art of the refugees
5. MONKS HELP: Showtime and the Shaolin monks donate
6. VISIT: Fondazione San Zeno visits Hsa Htoo Lei school
7. REGISTERED IN USA: Tax benefits for US based donors
8. MEMBERS: 225 - and counting

1. BURMA: This time there is hope

The past weeks were quite hard for all of us. Together with our friends and staff we followed anxiously the developments of the Burmese protest movement. At the beginning we were full of hope, but soon anger and tears followed. We knew that the situation in Burma was worse than reported in the media. We were sad when we acknowledged, that the media reproduced the official lies of the regime non mentioning the truth declaring these news as from a "non verified source".

From our friends and contacts we knew from the beginning, what was really happening. We knew that monks and civilians were not only arrested for interrogation, but killed brutally or tortured until death. We knew that many innocent people were arrested and the families of the protesters held joint liable. We knew, that the real number of victims was closer to 1.000. It is so easy to make people disappear in Burma. Truckloads full of corpses (and not only corpses) were brought to the cremation sites. All news which are not official, but true.

But still there is hope. China cannot afford that the positive image it is buying with such huge amounts of money in occasion of the 2008 Olympic Games is affected and damaged. Killing fields in a neighboring country and closest ally of China would be the worst case scenario for this future global power. Therefore China is pressuring the generals, in the background as it is the Asian customs. We firmly believe, that soon the reformists among the generals will take power and start a serious reconciliation process with Aung San Suu Kyi, the opposition and the ethnic minorities. We only can hope that the world, the media and the global players will continue pressuring that this process will lead to a good result.

2. IN THE MEDIA: Help Without Frontiers was a demanded interlocutor

As soon as the monks went on the streets the phones in our Mae Sot office started ringing without interruption. Journalists from all over Europe called to ask for information and interviews. In those days we hardly could find the time even to eat. But for us it was important to forward all information and to tell the truth about the situation inside Burma and of the refugees. The tragedy of many people ended in an opportunity for Help Without Frontiers.

The result were many articles, interviews and reports about Help Without Frontiers in the most popular media in Germany, Austria and Italy. Benno Röggla was also in touch with BBC World and the Guardian. Via Live-Satellite connection Benno was guest in a well known German TV Show.

3. NEVERTHLESS: A party celebrating 5 years of Help Without Frontiers

We pondered and weighed quite a while on if we should cancel the planned celebration in occasion of our 5 years anniversary. But our friends and partner encouraged us to not do so. Especially in such painful moments it is important to gather all together, exchange information and keep mood and hope high. The party turned into a big success.

Here you find the short report of Lena and the pictures of the celebration: 5 years Help Without Frontiers. The party..

4. CHARITY EXHIBITION: The art of the refugees

Some refugees from Burma have chosen the art to elaborate their traumas and have developed impressive skills and talents. Successful Art exhibitions in Vancouver, Seattle, Washington, Tokyo, Bruxelles and Florence, just to name a few stations, were the consequence.

Now, for the first time in Northern Italy, a wonderful selection of the paintings of Maung Maung Tinn, Saw Kennedy, Saw Win Tun, Chu Cil, Thut Aung and Nyan Soe will be exposed in an Art Gallery close to Bolzano/Bozen. The proceeds of the sales will be donated to Help without Frontiers.

6. MONKS HELP: Showtime and the Shaolin monks donate

The Shaolin Monks are touring our Province. Moved by the recent events in Burma, the tour organizers, Roland Barbacovi and its agency Showtime, decided together with the monks to donate part of the entrance fees to Help Without Frontiers. Furthermore, during the shows the audience will be invited to pass at our information booth in the atrium to collect our brochures and to donate directly. A very special way of helping. We thank from the bottom of our hearts.

6. VISIT: Fondazione San Zeno visits Hsa Htoo LEi school

Since 2 years the Fondazione San Zeno of Verona/Italy is partner of Help Without Frontiers and funding the Hsa Htoo Lei primary and high school. The foundation is funded itself by the international fashion company Calzedonia - Intimissimi and is supporting educational projects worldwide.

The responsible of San Zeno, Mrs. Rita Ruffoli, came to visit us and the school in October together with Father Pietro who lives since 30 years in Bangladesh. There he implements development and aid projects with the support of San Zeno, some are for refugees from Burma.

The welcome provided by all 500 students of Hsa Htoo Lei was moving. They performed dances, songs and speeches. At one point they invited Mrs. Rita and Padre Pietro to step up the stage to dress them in a traditional Karen costume. At the end of the very warm ceremony they had to shake the hands of all 500 students and all teachers (Pictures). Then they visited the school and all the classes and admired the school bus bought recently with San Zeno's funds. They were very impressed of what they saw and the progress made by the school.

Mrs. Ruffoli welcomed the fact that Hsa Htoo Lei is collecting small school fees in order to allow parents to participate more actively. After the visit we eat together with Paw Ray, the school headmistress, and some of the teachers.

In the following 3 days Mrs. Rita and Padre Pietro visited some of our other projects and had the chance to talk with some of our partners about the situation along the border and about their activities.

We are confident that this cooperation between San Zeno, Help Without Frontiers and Hsa Htoo Lei will endure, bringing good results also in future.

7. REGISTERED IN USA: Tax benefits for US based donors

Help without Frontiers has registered in the United States in order to allow American donors to benefit of tax advantages.

U.S.-based donors can now support our activities in a tax-efficient way through a contribution to the Help without Frontiers US Fund at the King Baudouin Foundation United States (KBFUS). Because KBFUS is a public charity, within the meaning of Sections 501(c)(3) and 509(a)(1) of the IRC, donors may claim the maximum tax benefits allowed by U.S. tax law for their contributions.

American donors who do not require a tax receipt are kindly advised to support us directly and not via KBFUS.

For further information or for donating to HWF US Fund please click here.

8. MEMBERS: 225 - and counting

Now we are 225 members, a big family. Lately we received applications from Canada, Japan, England and Finland. For us each member is important as it gives voice to the people in Burma and the refugees. But it boosts also our own motivation, with its ideas and tips and by donating sometimes a bit of its time to help us in our work. The membership fee is used to cover part of our running costs, as we do not touch the donations we receive, they are invested without any deduction in our projects.

If you want to associate, here is the link: New members welcome!

Help without Frontiers
Registered in the Public Index of voluntary organisations of the Autonomous Province of Bolzano, Italy, L.D. 20/ 1.1. of February 4, 2003

Posted by admin on October 28, 2007

Ernst Ehrlich, 86; Jewish Religious Philosopher

Associated Press Thursday, October 25, 2007; B07

GENEVA -- Ernst Ludwig Ehrlich, a Jewish religious philosopher who escaped the Nazis and became a European bridge builder between Christians and Jews, has died. He was 86.

Ehrlich died Sunday at his home in Riehen, a suburb of Basel, according to the family notice in Swiss newspapers.

The Berlin-born Ehrlich studied at the Higher Institute for Jewish Studies, Rabbi Leo Baeck's rabbinical seminary, until the Nazis closed it in 1942.

The Nazis forced him into labor until he found shelter with a Berlin couple and was smuggled into Switzerland.

He obtained his doctorate at Basel and later taught at universities in Switzerland and Germany. From 1961 to 1994, he was European director of the Independent Order of B'nai B'rith, founded in New York in 1843.

At the Second Vatican Council in 1965, he served as adviser to German Cardinal Augustin Bea in preparing "Nostra Aetate," a key document on Roman Catholic-Jewish relations.

Rabbi Walter Homolka, rector of Abraham Geiger College in Potsdam, Germany, eulogized Ehrlich as being "the bridge to Jewish heritage before the Holocaust" and an important liberal thinker.

Ehrlich was the author of several books on Judaism and was credited by the Free University of Berlin with "influencing generations of scientists."

Ehrlich is survived by his wife and a daughter.

Posted by admin on October 27, 2007

Analysis of timing of Myanmar protest by James Rose, former UN special ambassador in humanitarian relief

Hong Kong, China -- Buddhist monks and nuns are by and large pretty special people. Perhaps they don't get enough credit for being a political force, especially in certain parts of Asia. In Myanmar, Buddhist monks and nuns have been at the forefront of what might be a significant moment in the history of their country, the region and the world.

The timing of the latest rallies for democracy was significant and seems chosen specifically. This is no robed rabble. This is smart politics. The last time there was serious pro-democracy action in Myanmar was in 1988.

Today, similar hopes are once again in the air. The Myanmese religious leaders must have based their hopes, at least in part, on successful Buddhist involvement in political affairs across the border in Thailand last year. As the followers of the Santi Asoke Buddhist sect gathered in central Bangkok, set up camp and generated nightly protest rallies last year, it was clear that the government of prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra was in serious trouble. It was, and Thaksin remains an exile in London.

Buddhist activists have had significant political impacts in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam over the decades. Who can forget the self-immolation of the monk Thich Quang Duc, protesting against the repression of the pro-US Vietnamese regime of Ngo Dinh Diem in 1963? The Dalai Lama's rise as a global spiritual leader has done no disfavours for Buddhism generally. His efforts mobilised political action in Tibet and globally.

In most cases, however, while the involvement of revolutionary Buddhist leaders may presage regime change, they generally file back to their temples in the aftermath. Buddhist involvement appears not to influence the incoming secular leadership nor society's emerging political shape.

In Thailand last year, for example, Santi Asoke sought to undermine rampant materialism, which it said was killing Thailand. This agenda has been largely ignored since Thaksin left.

As for Myanmar, if the recent protests are revived, and succeed, then what will replace the junta? Democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has many credentials, but it is questionable whether Myanmar could establish a democratic system quickly. And, so, we look to the Buddhists: could they devise a system for Myanmar that would cover at least an interim stage?

As persecuted monks cross into Thailand, there is news of another, more focused, campaign to be undertaken by Myanmar's monks. In turn, there may be other outbreaks in such places as Tibet and perhaps Thailand, as Buddhist leaders there reassess their success in encouraging a more selfless political society.

What shape might a Buddhist-based regime take? Nominally Buddhist rule in Tibet for centuries remained largely feudal until Beijing imposed its own form of secular dictatorship. Few other examples are known. It remains to be seen, then, whether the rest of the world is as time-sensitive and as smart as Myanmar's Buddhists.

Posted by admin on October 24, 2007

Benedict XVI and Interfaith reconciliation

Pope urges 'reconciliation' for world religion meeting
Posted: 21 October 2007 2322 hrs

NAPLES, Italy: Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday urged "reconciliation among peoples" ahead of a religious summit in Naples.

The meeting is the largest inter-faith dialogue he has held as pope.

Some 200 participants at the annual Sant'Egidio community peace meeting include Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I, the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, Israel's chief rabbis Yona Metzger and the imam of the United Arab Emirates, Ibrahim Ezzeddin.

In a dramatic gesture, the pontiff assumed an attitude of Muslim prayer while standing beside Istanbul's Grand Mufti Mustafa Cagrici in Istanbul's Blue Mosque.

While there, the pope also met Barthomew I, spiritual leader of the world's 250 million Orthodox Christians.

Posted by admin on October 21, 2007

Dalai Lama to Visit D.C. Next Week

by Michelle Boorstein

The Washington Post

Thousands of Buddhists from around the world are expected in Washington next week, including some of the most senior teachers in Tibetan Buddhism as well as devotees arriving on all-night buses, to see the Dalai Lama receive the Congressional Gold Medal, the United States' highest civilian honor.

Posted by admin on October 10, 2007

Guru Nanak Award

Read article here:

Jew, Christian, Sikh scholars vie for Guru Nanak award
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 19

An award of $ 50,000, to be given every other year to an individual or an organisation in recognition of propagating Guru Nanak’s philosophy of discovering oneness of humanity by exploring the differences that separate people, has attracted nominations from top Jew, Christian, Muslim and Sikh scholars besides academics and inter-faith organisations.

Instituted by the New York-based HOFSTRA University and supported by the Sardarni Kuljit Kaur Bindra Foundation, the first Guru Nanak Interfaith Award will be presented in September, 2008.

Nobel Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a former Indian Prime Minister Inder Kumar Gujral, US Senators Charles Schumer and Norm Coleman, academics Rabbi David Rosen, Dr Martin Marty besides celebrated writer and author Khushwant Singh and a member of the Rajya Sabha (MP) Tarlochan Singh are members of the selection committee constituted for the inaugural award.

HOFSTRA University had invited nominations by inserting advertisements in major US newspapers.

Interestingly, the list of nominees is who’s who of individuals and organisations involved in spreading the message of universal brotherhood as preached by the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak Dev.

One of the nominees, Debora Batcha, for example, is designer of a talisman symbolising the fundamental unity of three Abrahamic religions. Abode of the Message (a community of Lebanon), Rabbi Arthur Schneier (spiritual leader of Park East Synagogue, and a member of the first interfaith delegation to visit the Soviet Union and China), medicos Alan Astrow and Daniel Sulmasy, the Bo Yin Ra Foundation and the Center for Religious Inquiry.

Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions, the Compassionate Listening Project, the Esalen Institute for Theory and Research and Track Two’s Abrahamic Family Reunion, Sacha Stone and the Humanitad Foundation, Hands of Peace, Hartford Seminary, the Interfaith Encounter Association, Interfaith Peace Building Initiative, Interfaith Works of Central New York, Joseph Interfaith Foundation, Interfaith Mission Service for Greater Tennessee Valley, International Center for Religion and Diplomacy, International Summer School on Religion and Public Life, Molloy College Institute for Christian/ Jewish Dialogue and the Liberian Council for Churches are among some of the organizations whose nominations have been received.

Interestingly, nomination of Modernage Public School and College of Abbottabad in Pakistan for the award has also been acknowledged.

Tenzin Gyatso, the fourteenth Dalai Lama, is also on the nominee list for the award list.

Among individuals of Indian origin Jagdish Gandhi of Lucknow, Dr Eboo Patel, an eminent speaker and broadcaster on interfaith, Sukhbir Singh Kapoor , an author of 40 books on Sikh religion, Bhai Harbans Lal, Emeritus Professor of Pharmacology and Neurosciences and Baba Virsa Singh of Delhi and Trilochan Singh, Professor of Mechanical engineering at Wayne University in Detroit.

Others individuals nominated for the award include Steve D. Martin, president of Vital Visions, Ruth Broyde-Sharone, a film maker, Dr Sayyed Hussain Nasr, University Professor of Islamic Studies, Dr Paul F. Knitter, Gary Krupp, Dr Frank Kaufmann and Dr Harold Kasimow, a pioneer in introducing the study of non-Christian traditions in the curriculum.

Posted by admin on September 21, 2007

Minute of Silence at 12 noon on Friday, 21 September

Dear Friends,

In his historic statement for the International Day of Peace, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for a Minute of Silence for world peace on 21 September at 12 noon. Please read the full text of his message and the press release below.

We encourage you to use the International Day of Peace to join in a global movement to pray and focus on peace. The press release below describes some of the important issues that the SG will address during the weekend following the International Day of Peace. Join the SG and people throughout the world with a Minute of Silence to support his work and to help build the Culture of Peace.

This Press Release has been reviewed and approved by the United Nations. Please help to spread this urgent message around the world, through your press contacts and email lists.

Let the prayer “May Peace Prevail on Earth” echo in the hearts and on the lips of people everywhere to conclude the Minute of Silence at noon on the International Day of Peace!

May Peace Prevail on Earth!

Love and gratitude,

Deborah Moldow
Monica Willard

For immediate release


International Day of Peace precedes UN high-level talks on Darfur, Israel/Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan

New York, 12 September 2007

Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, has appealed to people around the world to join in a Minute of Silence at 12 noon on the International Day of Peace, observed on 21 September each year.

The International Day of Peace, designated by the UN General Assembly, has been growing in worldwide recognition since the date was fixed on 21 September in 2001 as an annual day of global cease-fire and non-violence. All governments, UN system agencies, non-governmental organizations and individuals are called upon to join in the observance. Civil society has added an International Day of Peace Vigil, including prayers and meditation for peace by people of all faiths.

This year, the International Day of Peace falls on a Friday, just before the start of the Secretary-General’s high-level meetings on four of the most sensitive areas of conflict in the world: Darfur, Israel/Palestine, Iraq, and Afghanistan. It also falls during both Ramadan and the Jewish High Holy Days.

Mr. Ban admits that, “ countless communities across the globe, peace remains an elusive goal.” He urges “all countries and combatants to honour this cessation of hostilities” and asks “people everywhere to observe a minute of silence at 12 noon local time.”

“As the guns fall silent, we should use this opportunity to ponder the price we all pay due to conflict. And we should resolve to vigorously pursue ways to make permanent this day’s pause. On this International Day, let us promise to make peace not just a priority, but a passion.”

The Secretary-General will back up his promise with the high-level talks at the United Nations, which will include the participation of several Foreign Ministers and the Presidents of Afghanistan and the Prime Minister of Iraq.

The International Day of Peace will be observed at UN headquarters on 21 September beginning with the Secretary-General ringing the Peace Bell at 9:30 a.m. Mr. Ban and the President of the General Assembly will then greet 700 middle school children attending the annual student observance. Also participating will be several Messengers of Peace, including Michael Douglas, Jane Goodall and Elie Wiesel. Three new Messengers of Peace will be introduced. The children will raise the flags of all nations with the theme, “May Peace Prevail on Earth.”

The public is urged to join in the Minute of Silence at 12 noon on Friday, 21 September, in support of a successful outcome to the peace talks and in a shared focus or prayer for peace on earth.

For information on how you can support the International Day of Peace, please visit and






New York, 21 September 2007

Dear friends,

Peace is one of humanity’s most precious needs. It is also the UN’s highest calling.

It defines our mission. It drives our discourse. And it draws together all of our world wide work, from peacekeeping and preventive diplomacy to promoting human rights and development.

This work for peace is vital. But it is not easy. Indeed, in countless communities across the world, peace remains an elusive goal. From the displaced person camps of Chad and Darfur to the byways of Baghdad, the quest for peace is strewn with setbacks and suffering.

September 21, the International Day of Peace, is an occasion to take stock of our efforts to promote peace and well-being for all people everywhere.

It is an opportunity to appreciate what we have already accomplished, and to dedicate ourselves to all that remains to be done.

It is also meant to be a day of global cease-fire: a twenty-four hour respite from the fear and insecurity that plague so many places.

Today, I urge all countries and all combatants to honour this cessation of hostilities. And I ask people everywhere to observe a minute of silence at 12 noon local time.

As the guns fall silent, we should use this opportunity to ponder the price we all pay due to conflict. And we should resolve to vigorously pursue ways to make permanent this day’s pause.

On this International Day, let us promise to make peace not just a priority, but a passion. Let us pledge to do more, wherever we are in whatever way we can, to make every day a day of peace.

Thank you.

Posted by admin on September 19, 2007

IMPORTANT ARTICLE - Moderates attack ‘fundamentally wrong’ approach to teaching Islam

There is a great deal of controversy and consternation swirling around the Deobandi sect in British media and consciousness. A number of important articles have come out of late detailing the militant leanings of Deobandi teachings.

Here however is a scholar strongly opposed to such views. Please be sure to read about Sheikh Ibrahim Mogra, who graduated from the same school as the violent and vitriolic Riyadh ul Haq,

Please read this story here. It also provides a helpful overview of Muslim lineages currently operating in England.

Posted by admin on September 08, 2007

Iraq cleric seeks religious separation

Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Eshagh al-Fayyadh seems like someone to keep an eye on. His eminence seems to call for a more spiritual understanding of how Islam should guide the lives of Muslims in Iraq, and religious believers in general.

Story here

Posted by admin on September 08, 2007

Tibetan art at Rubin Museum of Art in New York

The Rubin Museum of Art exhibits Donald and Shelley Rubin's outstanding collection of Himalayan art, and currently features an exhibition that provides a fine introduction both to that art and to the museum: "BIG! Himalayan Art" showcases more than 30 large-scale artworks from the collection. These include textiles, ritual objects, and especially tangkas (scroll paintings on cloth).

Posted by admin on August 24, 2007

ATLASerials® (ATLAS®) Online Collection More than Doubles Number of Titles Since Inception

More than 100 Major Religion and Theology Journals now available

ATLA carries Dialogue and Alliance in its online subscription services.

Article here

read more |
Posted by admin on August 22, 2007

Religious books being banned


By Lisa Miller

By Lisa Miller

Aug. 13, 2007 issue - Moshe Milstein, a religious Jew who is incarcerated at the federal prison in Otisville, N.Y., wants his Maimonides back. Officials at the Otisville prison recently removed hundreds of books from the chapel library there—including, Milstein charges in court documents, works by the great 12th-century rabbi and physician Maimonides as well as the Zohar, the ancient text upon which the mystical practice of Kabbalah is based. The books were removed, Bureau of Prisons officials explain, to comply with new rules set earlier this year. To reduce the risk that prisoners will find hateful or radicalizing (read: terrorist) materials in chapel libraries, the BOP has developed lists of 150 approved books per religion for 20 religions, including Bahai, Mormonism and Jehovah's Witnesses. In all of the bureau's 114 prisons, chaplains are in the midst of dramatic reorganizations, removing from shelves any book not on one of the BOP's lists. "It was a huge undertaking," says Traci Billingsley, a BOP spokeswoman.

Together with a Christian and a Muslim inmate, Milstein sued Otisville prison officials, saying the removal of the religious books violated their civil rights and presented insurmountable obstacles to practicing and studying their faiths. Particularly forceful was Milstein, who argued the inmates' side to a judge by phone in May. He used to read the Zohar every day, he said, and "every day we don't have access to [these books] really presents a problem for us." On July 27, the case was withdrawn while the inmates exhaust the grievance process within the prison system. Meanwhile, attorneys at the New York law firm Paul, Weiss stand by, ready to refile if the inmates' demands aren't met.

Religious groups have taken up the inmates' cause. They accuse the BOP of, in the words of the Orthodox Jewish leaders who wrote a letter to BOP director Harley Lappin, "throwing the baby out with the bath water." The goal behind the lists—that is, preventing inmates nationwide from reading incendiary tracts—may be exemplary, they say, but its implementation is not. "The new policy will force chaplains to throw out many excellent books ... leaving only a possibility of 150 books available to the inmates," wrote Mark L. Early, president of Prison Fellowship Ministries, in a letter to the BOP's chaplain. Billingsley says that the lists aren't capped; prisoners are welcome to submit titles for vetting at any time. Besides, she says, books about the great Maimonides remain on the Jewish list. Maimonides, a book lover if ever there was one, would not approve.
© 2007 Newsweek, Inc.

Posted by admin on August 17, 2007

[AJC] Communiqué of the Anglican-Jewish Commission

From "Ari Gordon" [email protected]
Date Thu, 9 Aug 2007 12:53:11 -0400

Rabbi Shear Yashuv Cohen, Chief Rabbi of Haifa Rabbi David Brodman, Chief Rabbi of Savyon Rabbi Professor Daniel Sperber, Bar Ilan University Rabbi David Rosen, President IJCIC Mr Oded Wiener, Director General of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel.

read more |
Posted by admin on August 09, 2007

WCC NEWS: Internship at WCC: call for applications


The World Council of Churches (WCC) will welcome five young people (aged 18-30 years) to serve as interns in its Geneva offices from February 2008 to January 2009. Interns bring valuable experiences to the WCC at the same time as they undertake several modules of ecumenical learning.

Apply here

Posted by admin on August 08, 2007

Indonesian Muslims ask Taliban to release Korean hostages

JAKARTA, Indonesia: Muslim organizations in Indonesia urged the Taliban Saturday to release 21 South Korean hostages in Afghanistan, saying the kidnappings contradict the teachings of Islam and had damaged the religion's image.

The Associated Press
Published: August 4, 2007

read more |
Posted by admin on August 05, 2007

First woman appointed to top Muslim council in Singapore

The national organisation overseeing Muslim religious affairs in Singapore has appointed a women to its governing council for the first time in its 40-year-history, the body said Thursday.

Posted by admin on August 02, 2007

Please read about Asalha Puja Day

Asalha Puja Day is the most sacred day of the year in the Buddhist tradition.

Posted by admin on July 30, 2007

Young Indonesian scholars win competition

A group of 8 students of Junior High School of
Muhammadiyah VII Kotagede, Yogyakarta who are invited
to USA for "International Project Citizen Showcase",
Empowering a New Generation for Democracy, in
Washington DC, July 14 - 18, 2007, organized by CCE
(Center for Civic Education) USA.

read more |
Posted by admin on July 20, 2007

Visit UTS

The Unification Theological Seminary was founded in 1975 to equip graduates with the passion, skills, and abilities to be effective agents for peace and interreligious harmony.

Posted by admin on July 13, 2007

The challenges and our mission in Kashmir

Upon first reading, one might not find explicitly interreligious elements in this report on aid for widows in the Kashmir valley. The Guild of Service is a saintly organization that has long done deeply effective work if compassion in India. Important aspects of the conflict in Kashmir are religious and interreligious in nature. Through studying this and other efforts to support those who suffer from conflict, we can learn more deeply about the harmful results of religious conflict. - Frank Kaufmann

read more |
Posted by admin on November 03, 2006

What does Eid celebrate again and again?

By Khurram Murad.

As the sun sets on Ramadhan, multitudes of Expectant jubilant eyes become glued to the skies, eager to sight the new moon. For that new moon heralds the coming of the Eid day - one of the two days Muslims all over the world celebrate each year in thanksgiving festivities and rejoicing.

read more |
Posted by admin on November 03, 2006

The Meaning of Diwali

The time of Diwali is one of the most festive and beautiful times of the year. Diwali literally means a "Row of Lights." It is a time filled with light and love; a time when Indians all over the world rejoice. Diwali is celebrated on the thirteenth/fourteenth day in the dark half of Kartik (October - November); it is also known as Krishna Chaturdashi. It is the darkest night of the darkest period, yet it is a celebration of light! Diwali is heralded as the triumph of good over evil.

read more |
Posted by admin on November 03, 2006

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