Parliament of the World's Religions

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Parliament of the World's Religions
Chicago Meeting, 1893
GenreConference, exhibits
Inaugurated11–16 September 1893[1] (Chicago, USA)
Previous event16–18 October 2021 (Virtual)
Next event14–18 August 2023 (Chicago, USA)

There have been several meetings referred to as a Parliament of the World's Religions, the first being the World's Parliament of Religions of 1893, which was an attempt to create a global dialogue of faiths. The event was celebrated by another conference on its centenary in 1993. This led to a new series of conferences under the official title Parliament of the World's Religions with the same goal of trying to create a global dialogue of faiths.


An organization was incorporated in 1988 to carry out the tradition of the Parliament of the World's Religions by marking the centennial of the first Parliament. The Parliament of the World's Religions[2] is headquartered in Chicago. Its board of trustees are elected from various faith communities. The current Executive Director is Rev. Stephen Avino.


1893 Parliament[edit]

Swami Vivekananda on the platform of the Parliament of Religions September 1893. On the platform (left to right) Virchand Gandhi, Anagarika Dharmapala, Swami Vivekananda,[3] G. Bonet Maury

In 1893, the city of Chicago hosted the World Columbian Exposition, an early world's fair. So many people were coming to Chicago from all over the world that many smaller conferences, called Congresses and Parliaments, were scheduled to take advantage of this unprecedented gathering. One of these was the World's Parliament of Religions, an initiative of the Swedenborgian layman (and judge) Charles Carroll Bonney.[4][5] The Parliament of Religions was by far the largest of the congresses held in conjunction with the Exposition.[6] John Henry Barrows, a clergyman, was appointed as the first chairman of the General Committee of the 1893 Parliament by Charles Bonney.[7]

The Parliament of Religions opened on 11 September 1893 at the World's Congress Auxiliary Building which is now The Art Institute of Chicago, and ran from 11 to 27 September, making it the first organized interfaith gathering.[8] Today it is recognized as the occasion of the birth of formal interreligious dialogue worldwide, with representatives of a wide variety of religions and new religious movements, including:

Absent from this event were The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who were not invited,[19] Native American religious figures, Sikhs and other Indigenous and Earth centered religionists; these religions and spiritual traditions were not represented until the 1993 Parliament convened.

1993 Parliament[edit]

Opening Ceremony 1993

In 1993, the Parliament convened at the Palmer House hotel in Chicago. Over 8,000 people from all over the world, from many diverse religions, gathered to celebrate, discuss and explore how religious traditions can work together on the critical issues which confront the world.[20] A document, "Towards a Global Ethic: An Initial Declaration", mainly drafted by Hans Küng, set the tone for the subsequent ten days of discussion. This global ethic was endorsed by many of the attending religious and spiritual leaders who were part of the parliament assembly.[21]

Also created for the 1993 parliament was a book, A Sourcebook for the Community of Religions, by the late Joel Beversluis, which has become a standard textbook in religion classes. Unlike most textbooks of religion, each entry was written by members of the religion in question.

The keynote address was given by the 14th Dalai Lama on the closing day of the assembly. Cardinal Joseph Bernardin also participated.

1999 Parliament[edit]

More than 7,000 individuals from over 80 countries attended 1999 Parliament in Cape Town, South Africa. The Parliament began with a showing of the international AIDS Memorial Quilt to highlight the epidemic of AIDS in South Africa, and of the role that religious and spiritual traditions play in facing the critical issues that face the world. The event continued with hundreds of panels, symposia and workshops, offerings of prayer and meditation, plenaries and performances. The programs emphasized issues of religious, spiritual, and cultural identity, approaches to interreligious dialogue, and the role of religion in response to the critical issues facing the world today. At this session, Dr. Michael Beckwith and Dr. Mary Morrissey became the first New Thought ministers appointed to the Parliament of World Religions.[22]

The Parliament Assembly considered a document called A Call to Our Guiding Institutions, addressed to religion, government, business, education, and media inviting these institutions to reflect on and transform their roles at the threshold of the next century.

In addition to the Call, the Parliament staff had created a book, Gifts of Service to the World, showcasing over 300 projects considered to be making a difference in the world. The Assembly members also deliberated about Gifts of Service which they could offer or could pledge to support among those projects gathered in the Gifts document.

2004 Parliament[edit]

External video
video icon opening Ceremony 2004

It was celebrated in the Universal Forum of Cultures.[23] More than 8,900 individuals attended the 2004 Parliament in Barcelona, Spain. Having created the declaration Towards a Global Ethic[24] at the 1993 Parliament and attempted to engage guiding institutions at the 1999 Parliament, the 2004 Parliament concentrated on four pressing issues: mitigating religiously motivated violence, access to safe water, the fate of refugees worldwide, and the elimination of external debt in developing countries. Those attending were asked to make a commitment to a "simple and profound act" to work on one of these issues.

2009 Parliament[edit]

Melbourne, Australia, hosted the 2009 Parliament of the World's Religions. The 2009 parliament took place from 3 to 9 December. Over 6,000 people attended the parliament.[25]

The Melbourne parliament addressed issues of Aboriginal reconciliation. The issues of sustainability and global climate change were explored through the lens of indigenous spiritualities. Environmental issues and the spirituality of youth were also key areas of dialogue.

The Council for a Parliament of the World's Religions suggested that the Melbourne parliament would "educate participants for global peace and justice" through exploring religious conflict and globalization, creating community and cross-cultural networks and addressing issues of religious violence. It supported "strengthening religious and spiritual communities" by providing a special focus on indigenous and Aboriginal spiritualities; facilitating cooperation between Pagan, Jewish, Christian, Baháʼí, Jain, Muslim, Buddhist, Sikh and Hindu communities.[26] In addition, the council focused on crafting new responses to religious extremism and confronting homegrown terrorism and violence.[26]

The Rev. Dirk Ficca served as the executive director at the time of the 2009 Parliament of Religions. Zabrina Santiago served as deputy director and partner cities director.

2015 Parliament[edit]

In 2011, The Parliament of World's Religions announced that the 2014 Parliament would take place in Brussels, Belgium.[27] In November 2012, a joint statement from Brussels and CPWR announced that because of the financial crisis in Europe, Brussels was unable to raise the funds required for a Parliament.[28]

On 15–19 October, the 2015 Parliament took place at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah.[29] 9,806 attendees, performers, and volunteers from 73 countries, 30 major religions and 548 sub-traditions participated in the Parliament.[30] During the closing ceremony, Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid announced that the Parliament would henceforth be held every two years, with the next gathering scheduled for 2017.[31] This was later changed to 2018.

2018 Parliament[edit]

The board of trustees of the Parliament organization selected Toronto as the site of the 2018 Parliament of the World's Religions at their April 2017 board meeting. The event took place from 1 to 7 November 2018.[32] More than 8,000 people attended the sessions, including the Dalai Lama, who addressed the Opening Plenary of the Parliament.

2021 Parliament[edit]

The Parliament of the World's Religions was held online on October 16-18, 2021 in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.[33]

Related events[edit]

Great Religious Exposition[edit]

From March to May 1930, Kyoto, Japan hosted a Great Religious Exposition (宗教大博覧会, Shūkyō Dai-hakurankai). Religious groups from across Japan and China exhibited at the fair.[34] All of Japan's traditional Buddhist sects had an exhibit, as well as Christianity.[35]

2007 Monterrey Forum of Cultures[edit]

Forum Monterrey 2007 was an international event which included Parliament-style events and dialogues.[36] It was held as part of the 2007 Universal Forum of Cultures, which featured international congresses, dialogues, exhibitions, and spectacles on the themes of peace, diversity, sustainability and knowledge. Special emphasis was placed on the eight objectives of the Millennium Development goals for eradicating abject poverty around the world.

2016 Central European Interfaith Forum (CEIF 2016)[edit]

External video
video icon Video/ of Fahad Abualnasr, Director General of KAICIID Dialog Center, who addressed the Central European Interfaith Forum 2016 held in Nitra, Slovakia.

On 25 July 2016 the Parliament of the World's Religions–Slovakia and the Slovak Esperanto Federation in collaboration with other partners organized in Nitra, Slovakia called the Central European Interfaith Forum.[37][38][39]

Besides Elisabeth Ziegler-Duregger, Ambassador of the Parliament of the World's Religions, there were also more than 150 participants representing 20 nations, three continents, seven world religions as well as other religious, spiritual or humanist traditions convened for interfaith and civic exchanges in the search for solutions to the growing ethnic, cultural and religious tension in Europe and to jointly address some of humanity's most vexing problems such as the alarming trends of nationalism, extremism and xenophobia in societies.[39][40] The event resulted in a statement (the Nitra statement).[40]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Chicago 1893
  2. ^, Official Site
  3. ^ "Chicago, September, 1893 on the platform". Retrieved 11 April 2012.
  4. ^ Marcus Braybrooke, Charles Bonney and the Idea for a World Parliament of Religions, The Interfaith Observer
  5. ^ Boston Collaborative Encyclopedia of Western Theology, World Parliament of Religions (1893)
  6. ^ McRae, John R. (1991). "Oriental Verities on the American Frontier: The 1893 World's Parliament of Religions and the Thought of Masao Abe". Buddhist-Christian Studies. University of Hawai'i Press. 11: 7–36. doi:10.2307/1390252. JSTOR 1390252.
  7. ^ Michaud, Derek. An Analysis of Culture and Religion 14 April 2012.
  8. ^ "Parliament of the World’s Religions", Religion & Ethics Newsweekly, 23 October 2015
  9. ^ Jain, Pankaz; Hingarh, Pankaz; Doshi, Bipin; Smt. Priti Shah. "Virchand Gandhi, A Gandhi before Gandhi". herenow4u. Retrieved 26 March 2014.
  10. ^ Ford, James Ishmael (2006). Zen Master Who?. Wisdom Publications. pp. 59–62. ISBN 0-86171-509-8.
  11. ^ {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  12. ^ "Lemont Journal; Honoring Sensational Swami of 1893". New York Times.
  13. ^ {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  14. ^ {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  15. ^ Peel, Robert (1977). Mary Baker Eddy: The Years of Discovery. New York: Holt, Rineheart and Winston, p. 51.
  16. ^ "First Public Mentions of the Baháʼí Faith". Baháʼí Information Office of the UK. 1998. Retrieved 25 September 2015.
  17. ^ "Baháʼís participate in interfaith parliament". Baháʼí World News Service. Baháʼí International Community. 12 July 2004. Retrieved 25 September 2015.
  18. ^ Sun Jiang 孫江, "Representing Religion: 'Chinese Religions' at the 1893 Chicago World Parliament of Religions", Oriens Extremus 54 (2015), pp. 59-84.
  19. ^ Reid L. Neilson, Exhibiting Mormonism: The Latter-day Saints and the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. New York, Oxford University Press (2011), 146.
  20. ^ "1993 Chicago: Chicago 1993 |". Archived from the original on 3 September 2021. Retrieved 22 November 2017.
  21. ^ "Global Ethic: About the Global Ethic |". Retrieved 22 November 2017.
  22. ^ "Spiritual Center Offers New Program." Chicago Tribune, 11 Aug 2011, Page 7
  23. ^ "2004 Parliament of the World's Religions". Archived from the original on 28 December 2008. Retrieved 27 February 2019.
  24. ^ "Towards a Global Ethic". 13 September 2014.
  25. ^ "Guestview: Faiths meet at Parliament of World Religions". Reuters. 8 December 2009. Archived from the original on 13 December 2009.
  26. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 10 February 2008. Retrieved 10 December 2008.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  27. ^ "Brussels to Host the Parliament". Parliament of the World's Religions. 21 March 2011. Archived from the original on 1 December 2012. Retrieved 1 March 2013.
  28. ^ "Joint Statement About Brussels 2014". 30 November 2012. Archived from the original on 6 December 2012. Retrieved 18 April 2013.
  29. ^ "Parliament of World Religions convenes in Mormon country - at last". 14 October 2015. Retrieved 27 February 2019.
  30. ^ "Parliament Follow Up Letter | Inter Religious Federation for World Peace". Retrieved 31 October 2015.
  31. ^ Parliament of the World's Religions in Salt Lake 'best ever,' chairman says. Deseret News. Retrieved 2016-6-27.
  32. ^ "2018 Toronto: Toronto 2018". Retrieved 22 November 2017.
  33. ^ {{Cite web|url= Parliament Virtual
  34. ^ 村上重良「評伝出口王仁三郎」1978. p. 183.
  35. ^ Stalker, Nancy K. (2008). Prophet motive : Deguchi Onisaburō, Oomoto, and the rise of new religions in Imperial Japan. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press. pp. 118–130. ISBN 9780824831721.
  36. ^ "2007 Universal Forum of Cultures, Monterrey, Mexico". Archived from the original on 11 February 2008. Retrieved 27 February 2019.
  37. ^ "Central European Interfaith Formum". CIEF. 4 August 2016. Retrieved 4 August 2016.
  38. ^ "Central European Interfaith Forum". World Esperanto Congress 2016. Retrieved 4 August 2016.
  39. ^ a b "Forum of the World's Religions". Our Forum 2016. Retrieved 4 August 2016.
  40. ^ a b "CEIF Central European Interfaith Forum" (PDF). Nitra Statement. CEIF. Retrieved 4 August 2016.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]