Temple of Understanding

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The Temple of Understanding was founded in 1960 by Juliet Hollister, and is an organization in the Interfaith Movement.

History[edit]

In its early years, the organization convened large “Spiritual Summits” in Calcutta (1968) and Geneva (1970) bringing together religious and spiritual leaders of diverse traditions to engage in dialogue, and address problems of intolerance, injustice and religious persecution. This network was supported by a distinguished group of “Founding Friends” including Eleanor Roosevelt, U Thant, H.H. Pope John XXIII, and H.H. the XIVth Dalai Lama, among others. These gatherings included Spiritual Summit V (1975), the first interfaith conference held at the United Nations and the first time a woman, Mother Teresa, represented the Catholic Church. The TOU has maintained a strong presence at the United Nations, attending global conferences, organizing workshops, lectures and major events including hosting the 50th Anniversary Celebration of the UN in New York (1995).

The Temple of Understanding is located in New York City, NY.

Mission[edit]

The mission of The Temple of Understanding is to achieve peaceful coexistence among individuals, communities and societies through interfaith education. TOU programs emphasize experiential knowledge and dialogue as a means of connecting people across a spectrum of religious communities to create a more just and peaceful world. TOU goals are to:

  • foster appreciation of religious and cultural diversity
  • expand public discourse on religion and spirituality
  • promote constructive social change
  • further education for global citizenship

The Temple of Understanding is a 501(c) (3) non-profit and Non-Governmental Organization with Consultative Status at the United Nation (ECOSOC).

The United Nations[edit]

In 1960, the TOU was encouraged by Eleanor Roosevelt to become an NGO and embrace Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, protecting freedom of thought, conscience and religion. In 2000 the Millennium Declaration, signed by 189 Member States, identified 8 Millennium Development Goals (MDG) to be achieved by the year 2015. The TOU's representative to the United Nations interweaves these goals throughout the organization's programs at the UN, in addition to sponsoring conferences and workshops on religious freedom.

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