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After Politics, Bobby Rush Takes Interfaith Post, Joining Multi-Religious Leaders Bringing Global Convening of Faiths to Chicago

Assembly Calls on Chicagoans of Faith to Defend Freedom and Human Rights at Parliament of the World’s Religions this August 

CHICAGO – Moving on from a lifetime in politics, former U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush told press during meetings in Chicago today that advancing religious and interfaith causes will be his new work, beginning with posts at the University of Chicago Divinity School and an appointment shared publicly for the first time today to Chair the Chicago Host Committee of the 2023 Parliament of the World’s Religions.

As Rush works to bridge the city’s faith communities with the 9th international Parliament convening that will bring thousands of visitors to Chicago this August, he lead today’s announcement alongside the Parliament’s multi-religious Board of Trustees by “affirming [my] commitment to faith, freedom, and human rights efforts in the City of Chicago.”

Plans underway to host the Parliament of the World’s Religions in August 2023 include a five-day conference, a public Parade of Faiths, a Sacred Music Concert, and additional festivities that will boast an attendance of 10,000 at McCormick Place from August 14 – 18 from around the city and the world, representing more than 80 nations and 200 spiritual traditions in programs headlined from academics, artists, clergy, public officials and globally renowned spiritual figures. 

Rush’s news extends the Parliament’s 2023 “Call to Conscience,” an invitation urging Chicagoans to embrace the mission of the 2023 Convening to defend democracy and human rights around the world by “affirming a commitment to the future of this city and its place in the global interfaith movement,” remembering the first Parliament meetings in Chicago known as the genesis of global dialogue between religions of the East and West at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition (and revived in 1993 at a Chicago Centenary Parliament of the World’s Religions). 

Chicagoans and Midwesterners alike should know about the Parliament of the World’s Religions landmark status in Chicago history, according to PoWR Executive Director Rev. Stephen Avino, who said that interfaith dialogue should be credited alongside other Chicago inventions like the Blues, modern architecture, house music, and the labor rights movement. Avino’s statements signal a momentous return home for the Parliament event that has met only eight times over 130 years in cities including Chicago, Cape Town, Barcelona, and Melbourne, headlined by luminaries including President Jimmy Carter, UN Messenger of Peace Dr. Jane Goodall, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and the late Archbishop of Cape Town Desmond Tutu.

Words from Rev. Vance Henry, Chief of Faith Engagement in the Chicago Mayor’s Office convey the spirit of the City hosting the forthcoming Parliament, adding today that “we are honored to announce to Chicago and the world that religious leaders are at the forefront of solving the most pressing issues of our time.” 

At the Parliament, this means translating critical global issues through the wisdom and practical applications of program proposals sent by thousands of spiritual leaders, artists, and expert laypersons from around the world, curated into a five-day experience organized through the leadership of 2023 Parliament Program Chair and Rev. High Priestess Phylis Curott. Speaking in today’s media event, Curott describes the way the Parliament responds to the call for conversations global religious communities desire to pursue while preserving a tone that “is grateful for diversity.”  By focusing the forthcoming event on preserving freedom and saving democracy, the Parliament is leveraging a global multi-religious platform seeking to defy authoritarianism and counter negative narratives about Chicago. 

The Parliament of the World’s Religions welcomes the public to its Parade of Faiths in the South Loop on August 13 and invites participants to register to attend and experience continuous Parliament of the World’s Religions programming through August 18 covering topics like women’s dignity, climate action, and world peace, in formats ranging from film to panels and cultural exhibition in a large trade hall. 

Curott says the forthcoming Parliament will be the most important and largest gathering of the world’s religious and spiritual leaders, and practitioners, to unite in a collective, courageous, and clear rejection of the most dangerous crisis confronting us today – authoritarianism.  

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About The Parliament of the World’s Religions: The Parliament of the World’s Religions cultivates harmony among the world’s spiritual traditions and fosters their engagement with guiding institutions in order to achieve a more peaceful, just and sustainable world. Its origins are rooted to the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, where the historic first convening of the World Parliament of Religions created a global platform for engagement of religions of the east and west. Headquartered in Chicago, Il, USA, the Parliament of the World’s Religions is an international 501(c)3 NGO affiliated to the United Nations Department of Public Information.