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North American Interfaith Network Explores the Golden Rule

By Terry Weller

NAINCONNECT 2011 visited Bharatiya Ekta Mandir, Phoenix’s new Hindu-Jain temple. Photo: Ruth Broyde-Sharone

The Arizona Interfaith Network was host, a community of engaged activists led by Dr. Paul Eppinger who find their mission in the Golden Rule. They’ve persuaded the Arizona legislature to declare itself the “Golden Rule State” and authorize drivers to ask for vehicle license plates embossed with “Golden Rule State.” A portion of the license fees helps fund the Network.

The young adult contingent at NAINConnect 2011 in Phoenix, July 24-26. Photo: Terry Weller

Keynoter Ambassador Mussie Hailu of Ethiopia is best known for his work in “spreading the message of the Golden Rule.” He spoke movingly about the imperative of bringing the Golden Rule to bear in a suffering, broken world. Mussie has circulated nearly 50,000 Golden Rule posters to organizations, political and religious leaders, and educational facilities across Africa.

Seventy interfaith leaders from across Canada and the United States met in Phoenix, Arizona for NAINConnect 2011, July 24-26, the annual gathering of the North America Interfaith Network. This year’s theme: “Many People, Many Faiths, One Common Principle: The Golden Rule.”

 More than a dozen workshops, panels, and plenary presentations explored the Golden Rule historically, philosophically, ethically, and in terms of education, gender issues, racism, and the United Nations.

NAIN’s board, shown here at a morning devotion, met for the day before NAINConnect 2011 convened in Phoenix last month. Photo: Jan Chaffee

Particularly well-received was the panel of ten young adults attending on scholarship who spoke with depth and feeling about their own understanding and experience of the Golden Rule. Lovely banquets, beautiful music, and visits to a Hindu-Jain temple, a Sikh gurdwara, and a Latter Day Saints youth center enriched the whole experience. As ever, though, the essential ingredient was interacting with new friends and old, sharing, laughing, and discussing interfaith matters that matter very much to every one who came.

Click for a detailed report and photo gallery of NAINConnect 2011. Next year’s NAINConnect 2012 will be held in Atlanta, Georgia, July 15-19.