Confronting War, Violence & Hate Speech
At the 2015 Parliament of the World's Religions held in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA the global situation brought into focus the responsibility of all people of all faiths to work toward ending:
Almost fifty armed conflicts
Innumerable hate crimes
Pervasive episodes of hate speech
In 2015, the Parliament explicitly addressed the importance of humanizing groups of people in order to combat prejudice throughout its "War, Violence, and Hate Speech" track.
Keynote speakers delivered timely, concise messages about what it takes to create a world of peace. While it is often difficult for individuals to change policy or to affect legislation, the 2015 Parliament called out the fact that the capacity to change the way we view our neighbors can start in a community, in a place of worship, in a household, and within ourselves.
War, Violence and Hate Speech program presenters spoke truth to PoWR
Describing Islamophobia as the "okay racism of our time, presenters called attention to the blatant double standard that runs rampant in countries across the world. Discrimination based on appearance suddenly becomes "okay" when it is tied to a religion or creed. Programs and plenary speakers provided a strong counter-narrative.
Turning upside-down the preconceived notion that religion is responsible for war the panel "Kill them (Qu'ran), Do Not Spare Them (Torah), and Cast Them Into Everlasting Fire (New Testament): Context of Difficult Religious Texts." This - the best-attended panel discussion at the Parliament - examined the violent passages of each of the Abrahamic holy books, calling to attention the historical context and dangers of misinterpretation.
City mayors from across towns in North America and Europe converged to train attendees on ways of engaging government with peacebuilding plans. KAICIID delivered intensive training sessions on leveraging traditional and social media to create change and goodwill amidst disagreement and volatile relationships caused by divides.
Respect for the dignity and human rights of LGBTQI communities, a subject often tiptoed around in global interfaith settings, was repeatedly raised in the call to reclaim the hear of our humanity.
Implementing the Parliament's call to "engage guiding institutions," an eminent panel of military strategists, international law experts, and religious leaders took up the challenge of responding to drone violence from an interfaith stance, enlisting participants to help draft a declaration denouncing drone warfare to the United States government.
The Parliament was honored to host Dr. Suzanne Barakat and Pardeep Kaleka, who are surviving members of families that have endured high-profile hate massacres in the United States. Each have dedicated their lives to raising awareness and educating important audiences about the anatomy of hate in our society. These and additional guests with similar stories sent a powerful message to the world: recovering from hate can direct grieving families down a road of forgiveness, service, and reconciliation.
The 2015 Parliament also marked the inauguration of the Parliament's Declaration on War, Violence and Hate Speech.
...Still, there is another essential dimesion of humanity that is significantly shaped by religious values: the side of the human species and its religions that expresses compassion and care not for one's own but for those who are the other, the alien, the stranger; that seeks reconciliation and works for justice and peace among those who would otherwise be foes, that fosters cooperation and altruism across traditional boundaries; that counsels the search for mutual understanding and provides instruction in the disciplines of non-violence."
The War, Violence and Hate Speech Plenary fit perfectly into the lattice of similar programming at the Parliament, proving that the attendees and program presenters carried with them a devotion to peace and a spirit of equality.