An organization that cultivates harmony among the world's religious and spiritual communities is urging people of faith to observe the upcoming anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks by “quench[ing] the fires of hatred and violence.”
In initiating its call, the Council for a Parliament of the World's Religions defended the followers of Islam, the majority of which were said to be "peace-loving citizens who unequivocally condemn terrorism in the name of religion.”
It also decried the recent anti-Muslim violence and desecration of sacred Islamic text that have come on the heels of recent opposition to the building of mosques and community centers in several cities, most notably New York City.
“We believe that such actions are unworthy of our nation and stand outside the shared values of our traditions which call for mutual respect and harmony,” stated the Chicago-based interreligious group whose current executive director is an ordained Presbyterian minister.
That said, the council’s trustees decided to call upon people of “faith, spirit and goodwill” from all traditions to use the "solemn occasion" of the upcoming 9/11 anniversary to reaffirm their commitment to “building a better world for our children and grandchildren, and to affirm our solidarity with the Muslim community in this country and around the world.”
Specifically, the council is hoping people everywhere will be inspired to comfort those who have lose loved ones that day and in the "violent conflicts and wars that followed from it" - a likely reference to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
While 2,977 died and over 6,000 were injured in the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, the death toll from the Iraq war has been estimated at well over 100,000, with some extending into the hundreds of thousands. The death toll from the war in Afghanistan, meanwhile, has been estimated at over 30,000.
Both wars have been tied to the "war on terror" that ensued following the 9/11 attacks though the war in Iraq did not begin until March 2003.
In its "Call For Solidarity on 9/11," the Council for a Parliament of the World's Religions invited people of all faiths “to stand calmly and firmly against the forces of violence, distrust, hostility and cruelty” and to commit to seeking healing and reconciliation at home and abroad, in the cause of justice and peace.
“In whatever ways that are in keeping with our individual and unique sacred traditions, we issue a call to stand together this weekend of September 10 - 12 in order to quench the fires of hatred and violence in our nation and our world, and to become aflame for the cause of a truly ‘beloved community,’” the council concluded.
Established in 1893, the Parliament of World Religions has sought to cultivate harmony among the world's religious and spiritual communities and foster their engagement with the world.
The group specifically seeks to promote interreligious harmony, rather than unity, noting that the problem with seeking unity among religions is “the risk of loss of the unique and precious character of each individual religious and spiritual tradition.”
“Interreligious harmony, on the other hand, is an attainable and highly desirable goal,” it states.
Over the years, the council has initiated dialogues and nurtured relationships among people of difference.
Since 1993, a Parliament of the World’s Religions has convened every five years in a major international city - the last having been in Melbourne, Australia, in 2009.
The Chicago-based organization’s current executive director is the Rev. Dirk Ficca, who teaches at DePaul University, the Lutheran School of Theology and Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary.