June 2012

Each month TIO shares a few of the more interesting interfaith stories from recent news.

Archbishop commends Bangladeshi Interfaith Harmony

“The Best Example Of Inter-Religious Harmony In The World”

Gerard O’Connell interviewing Patrick D’Rozario, Archbishop of Dhaka, Vatican Insider, May 28, 2012

“Actually in the last three years we bishops met the President and the Prime Minister three times, and on each occasion they asked us to work for inter-religious harmony. This came as a surprise to us because we were already doing so, but since the request came from the Heads of the State, we took it as a kind of mandate and really gave importance to it. 

“It was in this context that Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, the President of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, visited us in April 2011. It was beautiful to see the open-hearted way everyone accepted him - Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and Christians alike. He gave a lecture at a seminar in Dhaka University attended by Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and Catholics. After his visit, he said Bangladesh is the best example of inter-religious harmony in the whole world. We truly believe that too because culturally there is that basic harmony in the country. Indeed, this is a heritage we have had for very many years…”

[Read more...]

U.S. Ambassador’s Wife Networked with Pakistan’s Interfaith Women

Women’s role in promoting Interfaith Harmony

Pakistan Observer, Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Dr. Marilyn Wyatt, wife of the U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan, has lauded Pakistani women’s role in promoting interfaith harmony.

She expressed these views while participating in a women’s interfaith dialogue here on Thursday at a local shrine.

Participants included over 40 women religious leaders from various faiths, as well as teachers, and civil society activists. Dr. Amineh Ahmed Hoti, an anthropologist, author, and noted women’s rights activist, moderated the dialogue.

During the dialogue, the participants discussed the role of faith in daily life, the importance of interfaith cooperation, and the important role of women play in promoting religious tolerance and interfaith harmony. Dr. Wyatt noted that women especially understood the importance of tolerance, dialogue, and service to humanity.

“Here in Pakistan, where there is such a diversity of peoples and faiths, you have long experience in promoting religious tolerance and fighting those negative forces that want to judge and punish faiths that are different from their own,” Dr. Wyatt said.

Ed. (March 2017): The original article connected to this no longer exists. Here are photos from, and a reflection on, the event.

U.S. Congressman Promoting Global Meditation

Ohio Congressman on a Mission to Bring Meditation to the Masses

Daniel Burke, Religion News Service May 1, 2012

By age 35, Congressman Tim Ryan had been one of Ohio’s youngest state senators, served two terms in the U.S. Congress and hobnobbed with presidents and prime ministers.

But a different story, full of unmet ambitions and caustic self-criticism, coursed through Ryan’s mind, carrying him away from even the most important moments.

“I was so caught up in my story that I missed my life,” the Ohio Democrat writes in his new book, A Mindful Nation: How a Simple Practice Can Help Us Reduce Stress, Improve Performance, and Recapture the American Spirit.

Practicing mindfulness meditation, Ryan says, has quieted the nattering internal narrative, making him more relaxed, focused and compassionate. Now 39, the five-term congressman is enlisting teachers, doctors, business leaders, scientists and military personnel in a “quiet revolution” to bring mindfulness to the masses…

[Read more…]

Toronto Rabbi Targets Religious Certainty

“Temptations Of Religious Certainty Only Build Walls”

Rabbi Dow Marmur, Toronto Star, May 27, 2012

“Though lofty declarations by national and international organizations may articulate the ideals and set the scene for interfaith relations, much of it gets lost in politics. The real work is usually done at the grassroots level.

I witnessed it firsthand earlier this month when I addressed a gathering of members of more than a dozen liberal churches and synagogues in North Toronto. The group has been meeting regularly for some 25 years. The hundreds of women and men involved have not only forged strong bonds of friendship but also gained a deeper understanding of the others’ beliefs and practices. As their mission statement has it, “we pray our work will help end bias, bigotry and racism.” By all accounts, their joint endeavours have also deepened their own faith.

My talk was about the tension between the quest for truth and the temptations of certainty. Those who claim to know exactly what God wants of them and of everybody else are usually not open to dialogue. If they get involved with exponents of other faiths, it’s normally either to defend their own or convert others to it. By contrast, liberals who engage in interfaith work know that God’s whole truth is beyond human reach. We’re compelled to strive for it yet must settle for fragments. A way to connect at least some of the fragments is to learn from adherents of different faiths in the hope of gaining more insight into our own…

[Read more…]

Associated Baptist Press Reassesses Interfaith Friendship

The new face of interfaith dialogue

Jeff Brumley, ABP News, Monday, June 4, 2012

Interreligious dialogue is nothing new, but the way ministers and others are going about it is changing.

Interfaith dialogue is on the rise, not just in formal conversations led by judicatory leaders but in local communities where friendships forge as ministers of various faiths work together for common goals amid increasing religious diversity in the Bible belt.

Kyle Reese, pastor at Hendricks Avenue Baptist in Jacksonville, Fla., has been highly visible in community interfaith efforts, especially in his dialogue with Muslim and Jewish spiritual leaders. He refers to Imam Joe Bradford as “best friend” – as he does a rabbi and an Orthodox Christian priest.

Pastor Steve Jones, who made headlines working with Jews and Muslims to tackle social injustice in Birmingham, Ala., said the same about Rabbi Jonathan Miller. “I am closer to these guys than I am with many other Baptist ministers,” said Jones, the senior pastor of Southside Baptist Church…

Ed. (March 2017): This article is no longer found on the ABP website. The same article is published on Baptist News Global.

Global Anti-Malaria Net Effort Travelling the World

Ray Chambers Joins ‘Where's The Net?’

Tony Blair Faith Foundation, April 6, 2012

Ray Chambers, the UN Special Envoy for Malaria has joined Tony Blair’s Faith Foundation’s worldwide campaign: “Where’s the Net?” Since February, a symbolic anti-malaria net has been travelling in a relay between people of different faiths across the world to raise awareness about malaria prevention. Despite being entirely preventable, malaria still kills 750, 000 people each year.

The net began its journey in Sierra Leone, where a third of children who die under the age of five are killed by malaria. Since then it has travelled to almost 20 countries including: the USA, Mexico, Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Pakistan, Nepal, Philippines, and the UK spreading vital messages about malaria prevention.

The campaign has been embraced by people from all walks of life and different faith backgrounds; students, teachers, MPs, Health Ministers, the First Lady of Sierra Leone, Tony Blair and most recently UN Special Envoy for Malaria, Ray Chambers. All of their events are highlighted in an online journal and they range from malaria education lessons in Uganda to street plays about malaria by school children in India, plus many more.

[Read more…]

Interfaith Themes Featured at Film Festival

Jewish Film Festival Focuses On Interfaith Outreach

Joe Williams, Post-Dispatch Film Critic, Saturday, June 2, 2012

On the cultural calendar, the St. Louis Jewish Film Festival is a mazel. The 17th-annual fest, which will present 15 films from eight countries, runs June 10-14 at the Plaza Frontenac Cinema.

The opening day selections next Sunday reflect themes that have given the festival its widespread appeal over the years: interfaith outreach and Jewish contributions to entertainment and the arts.

[Read more…]

Religious Leaders & White House Chef Talk Childhood Obesity

Presbyterians, Other Faith Leaders Meet with White House Chef

Jerry L. Van Marter, Presbyterian News Service May 31, 2012

Sam Kass, White House head chef and senior policy advisor for healthy food initiatives, addressed 19 national faith leaders this morning May 31 at an unprecedented meeting to bring greater attention to the nationwide childhood obesity epidemic…

… The aim of the meeting was to identify opportunities for faith groups to increase and promote wellness and healthy lifestyle options in their congregations and states, implement more health and fitness activities, and urge Kass and First Lady Michelle Obama to support the state-level policy change initiative, Targeted Coordinated School Health.

[Read more…]

Buddhists Host Christians, Jews & Muslims in New French Temple

Europe’s Biggest Buddhist Temple to Open outside Paris

Angela Diffley, Radio France Internationale, May 21, 2012

With a month to go until its official opening on 22 June, workers are adding the finishing touches to the biggest Buddhist Temple in Europe, situated in a special eco-friendly zone, just outside Paris.

A church, a synagogue, and a mosque in the same environmentally-friendly complex, will eventually complete this special ecumenical venture.

The huge 8000 square meter construction in Bussy-Saint-Georges is built mostly in glass, wood, and unrefined concrete dotted with roof gardens. It is set amid extensive grounds filled with fruit trees.

The structure houses both a place of worship and a Buddhist cultural centre, and was designed by the Frédéric Rolland firm of architects.

An area open to the general public will include a vegetarian restaurant, and space for regular calligraphy workshops, meditation sessions and activities such as oriental tea-tasting.

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In Memoriam: Abdulaziz Khaki, Canadian Interfaith Leader

Dr. Abdulaziz Khaki, Vancouver died

Multifaith Action Society Newsletter May 24, 2012

“We are deeply saddened to inform you of the loss of Dr. Abdulaziz Khaki, a true champion of interfaith dialogue and dear friend of the Multifaith Action Society, who passed away in Vancouver this past Tuesday, May 22, 2012.” ...

An activist for human rights and racial justice in his native Zanzibar, he brought his family to Canada in 1973. Aziz was for many one of the first public faces of Islam in Vancouver & the country…”

[Read more…]