Parliament of the World's Religions

Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Parliament of the World's Religions
Chicago meeting, 1893
GenreConference, exhibits
Inaugurated11–16 September 1893[1] (Chicago)
Previous event14–18 August 2023 (Chicago)
Next eventTBD

There have been several meetings referred to as a Parliament of the World's Religions, the first being the World's Parliament of Religions of 1893, which was an attempt to create a global dialogue of faiths. The event was celebrated by another conference on its centenary in 1993. This led to a new series of conferences under the official title Parliament of the World's Religions with the same goal of trying to create a global dialogue of faiths.


The Parliament of the World's Religions was incorporated in 1989 to organize the centennial conference of the first Parliament. The Parliament is headquartered in Chicago, led by a board of trustees elected from various faiths.[2]


1893 Parliament

Swami Vivekananda on the platform of the Parliament of Religions September 1893. On the platform (left to right) Virchand Gandhi, Anagarika Dharmapala, Swami Vivekananda,[3] G. Bonet Maury

Another principal organizer was Jenkin Lloyd Jones, a Unitarian.[4]

In 1893, the city of Chicago hosted the World Columbian Exposition, an early world's fair. So many people were coming to Chicago from all over the world that many smaller conferences, called Congresses and Parliaments, were scheduled to take advantage of this unprecedented gathering. One of these was the World's Parliament of Religions, an initiative of the Swedenborgian layman (and judge) Charles Carroll Bonney.[5][6] The Parliament of Religions was by far the largest of the congresses held in conjunction with the Exposition.[7] John Henry Barrows, a clergyman, was appointed as the first chairman of the General Committee of the 1893 Parliament by Charles Bonney.[8]

The Parliament of Religions opened on 11 September 1893 at the World's Congress Auxiliary Building which is now The Art Institute of Chicago, and ran from 11 to 27 September, making it the first organized interfaith gathering.[9] Today it is recognized as the birth of the worldwide interfaith movement, [citation needed], with representatives of a wide variety of religions and new religious movements, including:

Absent from this event were the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who were not invited,[21] Native American religious figures, Sikhs, and other Indigenous and Earth centered religionists; these religions and spiritual traditions were not represented until the 1993 Parliament convened.

1993 Parliament

Opening ceremony of the 1993 Parliament

In 1993, the Parliament convened at the Palmer House hotel in Chicago. Over 8,000 people from all over the world, from many diverse religions, gathered to celebrate, discuss and explore how religious traditions can work together on the critical issues which confront the world.[22] A document, "Towards a Global Ethic: An Initial Declaration", mainly drafted by Hans Küng, set the tone for the subsequent ten days of discussion. This global ethic was endorsed by many of the attending religious and spiritual leaders who were part of the parliament assembly.[23]

Also created for the 1993 parliament was a book, A Sourcebook for the Community of Religions, by the late Joel Beversluis, which has become a standard textbook in religion classes. Unlike most textbooks of religion, each entry was written by members of the religion in question.[citation needed]

The keynote address was given by the 14th Dalai Lama on the closing day of the assembly. The DIMMID hosted also a dialogue session with the Dalai Lama on "Emptiness and Kenosis" which was the inspiration for the Gethsemani Encounters at the Abbey of Our Lady of Gethsemani in 1996 and 2002.[24] Cardinal Joseph Bernardin also participated at the parliament.[25]

1999 Parliament

More than 7,000 individuals from over 80 countries attended 1999 Parliament in Cape Town, South Africa. The Parliament began with a showing of the international AIDS Memorial Quilt to highlight the epidemic of AIDS in South Africa, and of the role that religious and spiritual traditions play in facing the critical issues that face the world. The event continued with hundreds of panels, symposia and workshops, offerings of prayer and meditation, plenaries and performances. The programs emphasized issues of religious, spiritual, and cultural identity, approaches to interreligious dialogue, and the role of religion in response to the critical issues facing the world today. At this session, Michael Beckwith and Mary Morrissey became the first New Thought ministers appointed to the Parliament of World Religions.[26]

The Parliament Assembly considered a document called A Call to Our Guiding Institutions, addressed to religion, government, business, education, and media inviting these institutions to reflect on and transform their roles at the threshold of the next century.[citation needed]

In addition to the Call, the Parliament staff had created a book, Gifts of Service to the World, showcasing over 300 projects considered to be making a difference in the world. The Assembly members also deliberated about Gifts of Service which they could offer or could pledge to support among those projects gathered in the Gifts document.[citation needed]

2004 Parliament

External videos
video icon Opening ceremony 2004

It was celebrated in the Universal Forum of Cultures.[27] More than 8,900 individuals attended the 2004 Parliament in Barcelona, Spain. Having created the declaration Towards a Global Ethic[28] at the 1993 Parliament and attempted to engage guiding institutions at the 1999 Parliament, the 2004 Parliament concentrated on four pressing issues: mitigating religiously motivated violence, access to safe water, the fate of refugees worldwide, and the elimination of external debt in developing countries. Those attending were asked to make a commitment to a "simple and profound act" to work on one of these issues.

2009 Parliament

Melbourne, Australia, hosted the 2009 Parliament of the World's Religions. The 2009 parliament took place from 3 to 9 December. Over 6,000 people attended the parliament.[29]

The Melbourne parliament addressed issues of Aboriginal reconciliation. The issues of sustainability and global climate change were explored through the lens of indigenous spiritualities. Environmental issues and the spirituality of youth were also key areas of dialogue.[citation needed]

The Council for a Parliament of the World's Religions suggested that the Melbourne parliament would "educate participants for global peace and justice" through exploring religious conflict and globalization, creating community and cross-cultural networks and addressing issues of religious violence. It supported "strengthening religious and spiritual communities" by providing a special focus on indigenous and Aboriginal spiritualities; facilitating cooperation between Pagan, Jewish, Christian, Baháʼí, Jain, Muslim, Buddhist, Sikh and Hindu communities.[30] In addition, the council focused on crafting new responses to religious extremism and confronting homegrown terrorism and violence.[30]

Dirk Ficca served as the executive director at the time of the 2009 Parliament of Religions. Zabrina Santiago served as deputy director and partner cities director.[citation needed]

2015 Parliament

In 2011, the Parliament of the World's Religions announced that the 2014 Parliament would take place in Brussels, Belgium.[31] In November 2012, a joint statement from Brussels and CPWR announced that because of the financial crisis in Europe, Brussels was unable to raise the funds required for a Parliament.[32]

On 15–19 October, the 2015 Parliament took place at the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City, Utah.[33] 9,806 attendees, performers, and volunteers from 73 countries, 30 major religions and 548 sub-traditions participated in the Parliament.[34] During the closing ceremony, Abdul Malik Mujahid announced that the Parliament would henceforth be held every two years, with the next gathering scheduled for 2017, later rescheduled for 2018.

2018 Parliament

The board of trustees of the Parliament selected Toronto as the site of the 2018 Parliament of the World's Religions at their April 2017 meeting. The event took place from 1 to 7 November 2018.[35] More than 8,000 people attended the sessions, including the Dalai Lama, who addressed the opening plenary of the Parliament.[citation needed]

2021 Parliament

The Parliament of the World's Religions was held online from October 16 through October 18, 2021, because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.[36]

2023 Parliament

In October of 2021, the chair of the board of the Parliament of the World's Religions announced that its 9th global convening would take place in 2023 in Chicago, USA. [37]

The 2023 Parliament of the World's Religions was hosted from Monday, August 14 through Friday, August 18 at the McCormick Place Lakeside Center.[38]

Related events

Great Religious Exposition

From March to May 1930, Kyoto, Japan hosted a Great Religious Exposition (宗教大博覧会, Shūkyō Dai-hakurankai). Religious groups from across Japan and China exhibited at the fair.[39] All of Japan's traditional Buddhist sects had an exhibit, as well as Christianity.[40]

2007 Monterrey Forum of Cultures

Forum Monterrey 2007 was an international event which included Parliament-style events and dialogues.[41] It was held as part of the 2007 Universal Forum of Cultures, which featured international congresses, dialogues, exhibitions, and spectacles on the themes of peace, diversity, sustainability and knowledge. Special emphasis was placed on the eight objectives of the Millennium Development goals for eradicating abject poverty around the world.

2016 Central European Interfaith Forum (CEIF 2016)

External videos
video icon Video of Fahad Abualnasr, director general of KAICIID Dialog Center, who addressed the Central European Interfaith Forum 2016 held in Nitra, Slovakia.

On 25 July 2016 the Parliament of the World's Religions–Slovakia and the Slovak Esperanto Federation in collaboration with other partners organized in Nitra, Slovakia called the Central European Interfaith Forum.[42][43][44]

Besides Elisabeth Ziegler-Duregger, ambassador of the Parliament of the World's Religions, there were also more than 150 participants representing 20 nations, three continents, seven world religions as well as other religious, spiritual or humanist traditions convened for interfaith and civic exchanges in the search for solutions to the growing ethnic, cultural and religious tension in Europe and to jointly address some of humanity's most vexing problems such as the alarming trends of nationalism, extremism and xenophobia in societies.[44][45] The event resulted in a statement (the Nitra statement).[45]

See also


  1. ^ Chicago 1893 Archived 27 May 2020 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Marshall, Katherine (3 September 2015). "The Parliament of the World's Religions: 1893 and 1993". Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs. Archived from the original on 12 September 2022. Retrieved 12 September 2022.
  3. ^ "Chicago, September, 1893 on the platform". Archived from the original on 21 January 2012. Retrieved 11 April 2012.
  4. ^ "Jenkin Lloyd Jones".
  5. ^ "Marcus Braybrooke, Charles Bonney and the Idea for a World Parliament of Religions, The Interfaith Observer". 15 June 2012. Archived from the original on 26 September 2015. Retrieved 7 September 2015.
  6. ^ "Boston Collaborative Encyclopedia of Western Theology, World Parliament of Religions (1893)". Archived from the original on 16 March 2019. Retrieved 15 January 2012.
  7. ^ McRae, John R. (1991). "Oriental Verities on the American Frontier: The 1893 World's Parliament of Religions and the Thought of Masao Abe". Buddhist-Christian Studies. 11. University of Hawai'i Press: 7–36. doi:10.2307/1390252. JSTOR 1390252.
  8. ^ Michaud, Derek. An Analysis of Culture and Religion Archived 16 March 2019 at the Wayback Machine 14 April 2012.
  9. ^ ""Parliament of the World's Religions", Religion & Ethics Newsweekly, 23 October 2015". PBS. 23 October 2015. Archived from the original on 1 September 2017. Retrieved 7 September 2017.
  10. ^ Jain, Pankaz; Hingarh, Pankaz; Doshi, Bipin; Smt. Priti Shah. "Virchand Gandhi, A Gandhi before Gandhi". herenow4u. Archived from the original on 29 September 2015. Retrieved 26 March 2014.
  11. ^ Ford, James Ishmael (2006). Zen Master Who?. Wisdom Publications. pp. 59–62. ISBN 0-86171-509-8.
  12. ^ "V Alasinga – Letters of Swami Vivekananda (Chicago, 2nd November, 1893)". Archived from the original on 2 April 2023. Retrieved 22 July 2023.
  13. ^ "World Parliament of Religions, 1893 (Boston Collaborative Encyclopedia of Western Theology)". Archived from the original on 12 December 2021. Retrieved 16 February 2022.
  14. ^ Niebuhr, Gustav (11 July 1998). "Lemont Journal; Honoring Sensational Swami of 1893". New York Times. Archived from the original on 16 February 2022. Retrieved 16 February 2022.
  15. ^ "Swami Vivekananda at the World Congress of Religions of 1893". Archived from the original on 21 September 2021. Retrieved 16 February 2022.
  16. ^ "God in America - Swami Vivekananda". PBS. Archived from the original on 2 October 2022. Retrieved 16 February 2022.
  17. ^ Peel, Robert (1977). Mary Baker Eddy: The Years of Discovery. New York: Holt, Rineheart and Winston, p. 51.
  18. ^ "First Public Mentions of the Baháʼí Faith". Baháʼí Information Office of the UK. 1998. Archived from the original on 16 July 2012. Retrieved 25 September 2015.
  19. ^ "Baháʼís participate in interfaith parliament". Baháʼí World News Service. Baháʼí International Community. 12 July 2004. Archived from the original on 26 September 2015. Retrieved 25 September 2015.
  20. ^ Sun Jiang 孫江, "Representing Religion: 'Chinese Religions' at the 1893 Chicago World Parliament of Religions", Oriens Extremus 54 (2015), pp. 59-84. JSTOR 26372435
  21. ^ Reid L. Neilson (2011), Exhibiting Mormonism: The Latter-day Saints and the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. New York: Oxford University Press, 146.
  22. ^ "1993 Chicago: Chicago 1993 |". Archived from the original on 17 July 2017. Retrieved 22 November 2017.
  23. ^ "Global Ethic: About the Global Ethic |". Archived from the original on 1 December 2017. Retrieved 22 November 2017.
  24. ^ Mitchell, Donald W.; Wiseman, James A., eds. (1997). The Gethsemani encounter - A dialogue on the spiritual life by Buddhist and Christian monastics. New York: The Continuum Publishing Company. p. xvii. ISBN 978-0-8264-1046-7. Retrieved 3 February 2024.
  25. ^ Hirsley, Michael (29 August 1993). "Parliament of Religions Makes Call For World Peace". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 17 March 2020.
  26. ^ "Spiritual Center Offers New Program." Chicago Tribune, 11 Aug 2011, Page 7
  27. ^ "2004 Parliament of the World's Religions". Archived from the original on 28 December 2008. Retrieved 27 February 2019.
  28. ^ "Towards a Global Ethic". 13 September 2014. Archived from the original on 19 October 2007. Retrieved 28 October 2007.
  29. ^ "Guestview: Faiths meet at Parliament of World Religions". Reuters. 8 December 2009. Archived from the original on 13 December 2009.
  30. ^ a b "Council for a Parliament of the World's Religions | 2009 PARLIAMENT / About". Archived from the original on 10 February 2008. Retrieved 10 December 2008.
  31. ^ "Brussels to Host the Parliament". Parliament of the World's Religions. 21 March 2011. Archived from the original on 1 December 2012. Retrieved 1 March 2013.
  32. ^ "Joint Statement About Brussels 2014". 30 November 2012. Archived from the original on 6 December 2012. Retrieved 18 April 2013.
  33. ^ "Parliament of World Religions convenes in Mormon country - at last". 14 October 2015. Archived from the original on 12 September 2018. Retrieved 27 February 2019.
  34. ^ "Parliament Follow Up Letter | Inter Religious Federation for World Peace". 28 October 2015. Archived from the original on 2 October 2022. Retrieved 31 October 2015.
  35. ^ Bandarage, Asoka (1 November 2018). "Call of the 2018 Parliament of World Religions". Asia Times. Archived from the original on 23 September 2021. Retrieved 11 September 2022.
  36. ^ "Students Share from the 2021 Parliament of the World's Religions". McGill University. 12 September 2022. Archived from the original on 12 September 2022. Retrieved 12 September 2022.
  37. ^ "2023 Parliament of the World's Religions to Be Hosted in the Birthplace of the Interfaith Movement, the City of Chicago". 27 October 2021.
  38. ^ "2023 Chicago".
  39. ^ 村上重良「評伝出口王仁三郎」1978. p. 183.
  40. ^ Stalker, Nancy K. (2008). Prophet motive : Deguchi Onisaburō, Oomoto, and the rise of new religions in Imperial Japan. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press. pp. 118–130. ISBN 9780824831721.
  41. ^ "2007 Universal Forum of Cultures, Monterrey, Mexico". Archived from the original on 11 February 2008. Retrieved 27 February 2019.
  42. ^ "Central European Interfaith Formum". CIEF. 4 August 2016. Archived from the original on 17 August 2016. Retrieved 4 August 2016.
  43. ^ "Central European Interfaith Forum". World Esperanto Congress 2016. Archived from the original on 23 August 2016. Retrieved 4 August 2016.
  44. ^ a b "Forum of the World's Religions". Our Forum 2016. Archived from the original on 17 August 2016. Retrieved 4 August 2016.
  45. ^ a b "CEIF Central European Interfaith Forum" (PDF). Nitra Statement. CEIF. Archived (PDF) from the original on 18 August 2016. Retrieved 4 August 2016.

Further reading

External links