Paul Carus Award

IFAPA: the recipient of the 2009 Paul Carus Award

"Interfaith Action for Peace in Africa," an organization formed in 2002 that brings together representatives from African Traditional Religions, Baha’is, Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Muslims and Jews, has been named the recipient of the Paul Carus Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Interreligious Movement by the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions. The award ceremony was held at the 2009 Parliament of Religions on International Night , December 5th at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Center. The historic fifth Parliament event in Melbourne, Australia ran December 3 – 9, 2009.

"IFAPA," the acronym by which the award-winning group is best known, "models in a creative way, the peace-making potential of the growing interreligious movement," said Rev. Dr. William E. Lesher, Chair of the Council’s Board of Trustees. "The organization is comprehensive, representing the major religions of Africa and also geographically significant with a continent-wide reach and concern," he said. IFAPA’s most public activity has been in the area of conflict resolution, having sent interfaith delegations to Liberia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, North and South Sudan and Togo over the last decade. Other IFAPA activities include a women’s project called, "A Mother’s Cry for a Healthy Africa," and a water project in rural Rwanda.

Dr. Ishmael Noko, General Secretary of the Lutheran World Federation and a founder of IFAPA will receive the award together with four IFAPA representatives: Dr. Faroug ElBushra Abdel Gadir, Secretary General of the Sudan Interreligious Council; Mr. Robert Hounon, Secretary of Vodun Hwendo Tradition, Benin. Mr. Prabhundas Pattni, General Secretary of the Hindu Council of Africa; Mrs. Lucretia Warren, Baha’i Community of Botswana.

The first Paul Carus Award was presented to Bishop McLeod Baker Ochola II and the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative at the 2004 Parliament of the World's Religions in Barcelona. Download the announcement of the 2004 Carus Award winner.

Members of the Council for the Parliament of the World's Religions' International Advisory Committee work with the Council for the Parliament of the World's Religions on the selection of the current and future recipients of this prestigious award.

A Brief History of Paul Carus

Paul Carus was born in 1852 in Ilsenburg, Germany, descending from a family of scholars. In 1887, he moved to the United States of America to become Editor-in-Chief of Open Court Publishing. In that role, he corresponded with and published the works of leaders in the fields of mathematics, philosophy, world religions, and related disciplines.

In 1893, Carus offered a thirty-minute paper at the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago. As he wrote later, he never expected to be so moved by this event, which served to redirect his lifework towards building awareness and understanding of Eastern philosophies and religions in the United States. In 1894, Dr. Carus wrote The Gospel of Buddha, the classic text on Buddhism that first introduced many Westerners to Buddha and his teachings. Because it resembled a Christian "gospel," it was easily understood by Christian audiences unfamiliar with Buddhist teachings.

Dr Carus' passion and commitment to the quest for religious and spiritual understanding was illustrated by his lifelong dedication to providing an open forum for the ideas of such diverse scholars as Pierce, Russell, Mach, Dharmapala, Swami Vivekananda, Shaku Soyen, D.T. Suzuki, and thousands of other great thinkers. As a thinker, writer and publisher, Carus became a bridge-builder between religions and science, philosophy and society, the Occident and the Orient, and Buddhism and Christianity.

The Carus family maintains the legacy of Paul Carus through Open Court Publishing, which specializes in scholarly and trade non-fiction, with an emphasis on philosophy, social issues, Eastern thought, education, psychology, Jungian analysis, and religion and science. In 2004, Open Court published a new edition of The Gospel of Buddha with 25 recently rediscovered paintings by the renowned Buddhist artist Yamada.