A Call to Conscience: Defending Freedom & Human Rights
A Message from Our Executive Director
There are not enough ways to express my gratitude for what was made possible last week in our home city of Chicago. From the 1,000+ representatives of more than twenty diverse faith organizations who walked in our Inaugural Parade of Faiths, to the 7,000+ attendees that explored the halls of the Lakeside Center during the week, to the hundreds of presenters and exhibitors that shared their unique contributions to the global interfaith movement, to the hundreds of Sikh volunteers who shared Langar – the gift of sevā (selfless service), and to the incredible work ethic of our trustees, staff, volunteers, and vendors, my gratitude knows no bounds.
It was a week of joy and celebration.
We celebrated the importance of the Parliament of the World’s Religions in its home city, a legacy still bringing people to the shores of Lake Michigan together 130 years on. This year, a return to convening in real life – enriched this legacy that still brings us together, building on the energy of new peoples and collective hope. From 95 countries you traveled, making this the most internationally attended convening in our history. We celebrated our shared call to conscience, engaging diverse voices of faith, spiritual, and political leaders working at the epicenter of threats to freedom, democracy, and human rights around the world. We celebrated the 30th anniversary of the Parliament’s foundational document Towards A Global Ethic.
“It was impressive to see how, thirty years on, the Parliament’s 1993 document, “Towards a Global Ethic,” generated a lot of buzz during this year’s convening. Whether in casual conversations or on social media, a lot of people talked about how, although most of us don’t share the same beliefs, we agree on the basic values and principles expressed in the document. They appreciated how this clear statement can serve as a conversation-starter and help people connect, whether they come from different religions or the same religion, or are not religious at all.“
– Dr. Myriam Renaud, Principal Investigator and Director of the Global Ethic Project
During those 5 days, we lived in a shared joy for what the world can be when people of faith committed to justice, peace, and sustainability come together made possible by our amazing sponsors and partners.
But it was also a week of recognition of the threats facing our communities and the world. The call to conscience of the 2023 Parliament is not just a public service announcement, it’s a flashing emergency light affirming, to the world, that faith and spiritual communities are vital partners and first responders in this fight for justice, for freedom, for a healthy environment, for human rights, and for democracy.
“Today we are all standing at a pivotal moment where history seeks to repeat itself. It is a moment of urgency – an existential global scourge has returned…It is a stark reality that transcends borders, cultures and faiths. A reality that demands our collection action and moral courage. As people of faith and spirit we have a singular responsibility. Here is the truth we must all confront and change. Despots are misappropriating religions to justify the unjustifiable. Tyrants proclaim themselves saviors posturing with religious symbols and exploiting language to affirm their power. And tragically, there are religious leaders who stand beside them and religious communities who cheer them.”
– Rev. HPs. Phyllis Curott, 2023 PoWR Program Chair
As the 2023 Parliament of the World’s Religions came to a close a week ago at the McCormick Lakeside Center in Chicago, USA it was clear to me, to the Parliament team, and to the thousands of attendees that shaped the 2023 Parliament that in order to make actual change in the world, we have to reach the people outside of our bubble.
You answered this call to conscience, now we invite you take the next step. My great hope for this 9th global convening of the Parliament of the World’s Religions is that it becomes clear for us as a community that this is not a time to rest or self-congratulations, it’s time for action. We are powerful – together we are something special.
Join us in defending freedom and human rights by sharing the bold wisdom, talks, and projects supporting the ongoing impact of the Parliament of the World’s Religions worldwide.
Rev. Stephen Avino
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* Full recording of the 2023 Parliament of the World’s Religions main stage programming is available exclusively to registered attendees and supporting members of the Parliament.