From interfaith vegans to inclusive heathens, religious Parliament offers it all
Originally published by RNS on August 16 by Bob Smietana
Not far from the entrance to an exhibitors space at Chicago’s McCormick Place stood a portrait of Swami Vivekananda, a Hindu monk and spiritual leader whose famed 1893 speech helped introduce Hinduism to the United States public and promoted the idea that people from different faiths can get along.
“I am proud to belong to a religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance,” he said at the 1893 Parliament of the World’s Religions, credited with launching the modern interfaith movement. “We believe not only in universal toleration, but we accept all religions as true.”
The 2023 Parliament, which has drawn more than 6,000 faith leaders from around the world to Chicago, lives out Vivekananda’s vision in ways both big and small. In plenary sessions in a cavernous hall and in breakout sessions, religious leaders and activists challenged each other to address issues like climate change and the rise of authoritarianism.