Statement on Dharam Sansad and Hate Speech
The Parliament of the World’s Religions is an international interfaith organization with headquarters in Chicago, carrying forward the vision and values of the first World Parliament of Religions held in Chicago in 1893. Our mission is “to cultivate harmony among the world’s religious and spiritual communities and to foster their engagement with the world and its guiding institutions to address the critical issues of our time.”
We are distressed to learn that the name of the Dharam Sansad — “assembly of religions” — is being rendered in English as “Parliament of Religions.” The meeting held in Haridwar by the Dharam Sansad on December 17-19 is widely reported to have included hate speech and calls for lethal violence and genocide against Muslims by certain Hindu leaders who organized this event, as recorded on video. The Parliament vehemently condemns all such hate speech and acts of violence anywhere in the world it occurs and at any time. We call upon faith leaders to recognize and teach that hate speech and violence is antithetical to the teachings of the world’s religions.
We vehemently disavow any association with such speech and the views it expresses. We have no connection with the organization sponsoring this meeting and we further request that the Dharam Sansad not be referred to as “Parliament of Religions.”
The signature document of the Parliament is the Global Ethic, adopted by an assembly of 250 spiritual leaders at the centenary Convening in Chicago in 1993, states that “Every human being must be treated humanely” and declares “We commit ourselves to a culture of non-violence, respect, justice and peace…we invite all people, whether religious or not, to do the same.”
The Parliament’s Convenings are the world’s largest and most inclusive interfaith gatherings and have been held in Chicago, Cape Town, Barcelona, Melbourne, Salt Lake City, and Toronto with an average attendance of 8,000.
The Parliament is open to people of all faiths, spiritual paths and ethical convictions in a spirit of respectful dialogue.
Sectarianism, bigotry, and its horrible descendant, fanaticism, have long possessed this beautiful Earth. They have filled the Earth with violence, drenched it often and often with human blood, destroyed civilization and sent whole nations to despair. Had it not been for these horrible demons, human society would be far more advanced than it is now. But their time is come; and I fervently hope that the bell that tolled this morning in honor of this convention may be the death-knell of all fanaticism, of all persecutions with the sword or with the pen, and of all uncharitable feelings between persons wending their way to the same goal.