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The Power of Love in the Interfaith Movement

Written by Emma Carr
April 1, 2020

This blog post is part of our #PoWRofLove Campaign

“All that is sacred arises out of pure, perfect and unconditional Divine Love. We are given the opportunity to actualize the magnificence of the living presence of the Divine in the seeming ordinariness of our daily lives through every loving thought, word and action.”
– Audrey Kitagawa, Board Chair of the Parliament of the World’s Religions

The global interfaith movement knows the power of love. Since the birth of our movement, religious and nonreligious people throughout the interfaith community are driven by their core principle of love for our common humanity. In this sense, love is more than an emotion; we find that love is a powerful, creative driving force for action. It drives our will to keep going, to act in service of one another, to create a more just, peaceful, and sustainable world.

To the Sikh, love motivates selfless service to the masses. As Guru Arjan Sahib wrote, “I don’t want power, and I don’t desire salvation. All I want is to be in love at your lotus-feet.” When such love is one’s end goal, it is powerful. The power of that love results in over 30,000 home-cooked meals for New Yorkers in quarantine facing the COVID-19 pandemic. The power of that love results in Sikhs and Hindus forming a protective human shield around Mulsims praying in the midst of protests in India.

To the Christian, one’s neighbors are to be loved as oneself (Matthew 22:39). When the Christian loves humanity as they love themselves, that love “always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” (1 Corinthians 13:7). The power of that love results in Dorothy Day making a wave in welfare for the poor, from offering shelter through houses of hospitality, to protesting the imbalance of wealth and unjust wars, to calling on others to take personal moral responsibility for injustice. The power of that love results in churches on either side of the US-Mexico border offering shelter to asylum-seekers.

To the Jew, “one who acts from love is greater than one who acts from fear” (Talmud: Sotah 31a). When love is our driving force, it is powerful. That love results in Jewish activists demonstrating in protest of US Immigration & Customs Enforcement detention centers. The power of that love results in Jews leading climate marches and campaigning for clean energy.

To the Muslim, love gives one strength through inner peace. “Real love brings about calm—not inner torment. True love allows you to be at peace with yourself and with God,” wrote Yasmin Mogahed. That love gives activists like Linda Sarsour the strength to fight for women’s rights, racial justice, civil liberty, and much more. That love drives Muslim communities to catalyze in support of others, like Pittsburgh-area msulims who raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to aid victims of the 2018 Pittsburgh synagogue shooting.

To the Baháʼí, love removes the obstacles that might otherwise hold us back from doing all we can for one another. For, as ʻAbdu’l-Bahá wrote, “where there is love, nothing is too much trouble and there is always time.” The power of that love drives someone like Payam Akhavan to lead the way in international criminal justice and human rights advocacy. The power of that love drives activists like Van Gilmer to bring the nation’s attention to racism through the non-violent protest during the 1960’s Jim Crow era sit-ins.

As the 14th Dalai Lama said, “all religious institutions, despite different philosophical views, all have the same message ― a message of love.” From the Hindu to the Zoroastrian, from the Buddhist to the Pagan, messages of love fuel the souls of spiritual people worldwide. The interfaith movement’s core principle of love for our common humanity gives us power. The power of love is strength, it is peace, it is selfless service; it is the drive of our will to keep going.