So will all religions, because eager to become the pillow of man, dreaming of God and beholding the ladder joining earth to heaven, be transformed into one great rock which the ages cannot move, a foundation stone for the all-embracing temple of humanity united to do God’s will with one accord. It was said that the religions had never met but in conflict, and that a different result could not be expected now. Fannie Barrier Williams declared, “It is a monstrous thing that nearly one-half of the so-called evangelical churches of this country repudiate and haughtily deny fellowship to every Christian lady and gentleman happening to be of African descent.” She challenged Christians to take seriously their own religion. The Jordan devout may be baptized unto His service and redemption. From every religion, however, speakers optimistically affirmed the universal principles that surely would undergird all faiths. 475 millions of people accept our religion of love and hope. Go to God. Our people well know what abstract truth is in Christianity, and we, or at least I, do not care about the names if I speak from the point of teaching. When the original Parliament had concluded, the Reverend Barrows reflected: “Religion, like the white light of heaven, had been broken into many-colored fragments by the prisms of men. The 1893 World's Parliament of Religions included a number of Buddhist delegates, among them Zen Master Soyen Shaku, the Japanese layman Hirai Kinzo, and the Sri Lankan Buddhist reformer Anagarika Dharmapala. Indeed, the apostles of Christianity after Paul, the Pundits of Buddhism, the Imams of Islam, and last, though not least, the rabbis of modern Judaism, have abandoned the narrow to serve as foundation stones for the temple of all humanity. On the other hand, it was felt that the tendencies of modern civilization were toward unity. It influenced my opinion of Islam and when I began, ten years ago, to study the Oriental religions, I threw Islam aside as altogether too corrupt for consideration. The God of the universe speaks to all mankind.”, It was the first time that many Americans had ever heard Hindus or Buddhists speak in their own voices on behalf of their own faith. Whether Christ saves us or drives us into hell, or whether Gautama Buddha was a real person or there was never such a man, is not a matter of consideration to us; but the consistency of doctrine and conduct is the point on which we put the greatest importance. One of these was the World's Parliament of Religions, an initiative of the Swedenborgian layman (and judge) Charles Carroll Bonney. If the wide expanses of the skies and the abysses of the deep cannot shut out from the divine presence, can the pigmy barriers erected by man and preserved by political intrigues and national pride dam in the mighty stream of divine love? Having created the declaration Towards a Global Ethic[20] 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. If any religion urges the injustice of humanity, I will oppose it, as I ever have opposed it, with my blood and soul. Man will worship, but in the beauty of holiness his prayer will be the prelude to his prayerful action. Now, that is the result of ignorance. If any name it will have, it will be “the Church of God,” because it will be the church of man. …The Moslem brotherhood stands upon a perfect equality, recognizing only the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. It means aspiration to God. I do not propose to take a sword in one hand and the Koran in the other and go through the world killing every man who does not say, La illaha illala Mohammund resoul Allah—“There is no God but one and Mohammed is the prophet of God.” But I have faith in the American intellect, in the American intelligence, and in the American love of fair play, and will defy any intelligent man to understand Islam and not love it.


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