The Words of the Marsh Family
London, UK -- The proposal for an inter-religious council at the United Nations, initiated by Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon as the founding purpose of the Universal Peace Federation, was emphasized by his son and successor, Rev. Hyung Jin Moon, the International Chairman of UPF, in the House of Commons' Boothroyd room. A Harvard Divinity School graduate, Rev. Moon, gave the keynote address on August 31, commenting on the heritage of inter-religious consultations within the UK:
'I am reminded that the first General Assembly of the United Nations was convened here in London, in 1946, at the Central Hall of the Methodist Church. I also note that the first meeting of the British parliament took place in Westminster Abbey. I believe England has always understood the necessary link between spiritual principles and values, on the one hand, and the public sphere of social, political and economic institutions, on the other hand.'
'In his message at the United Nations in the year 2000, Father Moon explained that the UN would not be able to fulfill its mission without creating a council that would uphold the spiritual wisdom and heritage of humanity, representing God's guidance for all of us.'
This was the first time that the Rev. Hyung Jin Moon had spoken publicly in the UK. It was a contribution that was well received, and his religious background and knowledge provides much hope for UPF and the development of an inter-religious council.
Rev. Dr. Marcus Braybrooke, the President of the World Congress of Faiths, spoke of the origins of an inter-religious council in the initial discussions of the composition of the UN in the mid-1940s.
'The need for a religious or spiritual presence at the UN has long been recognized by the World Congress of Faiths. Soon after the outbreak of the Second World War, Sir Francis Younghusband, the founder of the World Congress of Faiths, said, 'No reconstituted League of Nations will be of the slightest avail unless it is inspired by an irresistible spiritual impulse.' In 1943, George Bell, Bishop of Chichester and a leading member of World Congress of Faiths, said in the House that 'an association between the International authority and representatives of the living religions of the world' was of vital importance.'
Imam Abduljalil Sajid gave a valuable contribution as a UPF Global Peace Council member. He raised questions about the fair representation and qualifications to be an inter-religious council member. He asked what was feasible in the medium term to accomplish within the UN structure. He specifically thought the proposal should be limited to an advisory council so as to be accepted by the member states of the UN. Two points added were hopes for 'the council to bring the human family closer' and be 'perceived as and proves to be a counterbalancing force of extremism, bigotry and exclusivity.'
The comments from the audience explored the relationship between religion and politics:
1. That we should have a Petition at each of the consultations and promote an Early Day Motion on this issue among MPs.
2. How do we prevent religious leaders aggrandizing against states or states imposing laws on religions?
3. The religious process will inevitably become politicized.
4. How can we get non-religious people to accept the importance of spiritual and religious values?
5. The power of politics can influence minds but religion can change the hearts of people to affect the quality of relationships between people, communities and nations. (For more responses click here)
It was a significant event for the UPF-UK, given the presence of the International UPF Chairman, International President, Dr. Thomas Walsh, and the International Secretary General, Taj Hamad.
It was a memorable occasion also because of the passion and enthusiasm of Ambassadors for Peace to support the development of the inter-religious council proposal, which is UPF's founding vision.
One reflection that expressed this enthusiasm: 'I'm so humbled by the goodwill and friendship that was on display and the immeasurable will to create a body in the UN so desperately needed to give the faithful a voice. I will do everything I am able to support the initiative, in prayer and human intervention.'
Inter-Religious Council at the United Nations Consultation:
Comments from the audience about the inter-religious council were varied and informed.
1) That we should have a Petition at each of the consultations and promote an Early Day Motion among MPs.
2) How do we prevent religious leaders aggrandizing against states or states imposing laws on religions?
3) The religious process will inevitably become politicized.
4) How can we get non-religious people to accept the importance of spiritual and religious values?
5) What are the objections? Good to analyze them and respond
6) The power of politics can influence minds but religion can change the hearts of people to affect the quality of relationships between people, communities and nations.
7) The UN is an assembly of nations largely without power therefore the power at the national level should be developed through Inter-Religious Council's at the nation state level. Who can choose the faith representative for the United Nations? It could be chosen at the national level through the national IRC.
8) There will need to be a nation by nation strategy for national lobbying for the IRC.
9) Begin here in the UK to establish a prototype.
10) We must develop mutual trust. We live in multicultural society but we need to reflect on and evaluate or even challenge our own faiths.
11) Thanked UPF for this initiative. The UN is becoming distant from its people and needs to find a way to serve the people. Such a council could help to bring the UN closer to the people.
12) Faith is getting a bad name for causing wars and conflicts. However it is regional politics that are causing conflicts. Therefore the IRC would improve the understanding of the role of religions.
13) While faith in God is the key we must break it down into constituent parts. Such elements as stewardship, human development, will emerge from those parts. The wording of the mission statement will develop from this analysis.
14) The IRC could improve the understanding of faiths like the confusion when African indigenous religions are classified as being polytheistic when many are monotheistic.
15) How does an IRC appeal to non-religious people?
16) An IRC could be set up in Scotland. How can this be accomplished?
17) What would be the role of an IRC be? Religion mixed with politics always gets into extremes.