Bishop William Swing of the Episcopal Church's Diocese of California thinks he is building a religious bridge to the new millennium, and he wants everybody on Earth to cross it with him. His United Religions Initiative (URI) is trying to create a kind of parliament of religions, "a permanent assembly, with the stature and visibility of the United Nations, where the world's religions and spiritual communities will gather on a daily basis, in prayerful dialogue and cooperative action, to make peace among religions and to be a force for peace among nations." As Bishop Swing has said, the world is moving toward "unity in terms of global economy, global media, global ecological system. What is missing is a global soul." And how will this global soul be found or created? By conferences, networking, fundraising, declarations, and press releases.
The URI to date has held three annual summit conferences, each time with more attendees, among them various Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Shintoists, Bahá'is, Sikhs, Hindus, Zoroastrians, New Age followers, Wiccans, and representatives of aboriginal religions. (There have been no representatives from the Vatican or from evangelical Protestant churches.) These conferences have called for a 72-hour worldwide religious "cease-fire" on December 31, 1999, and have issued a draft "United Religions Charter." In June of 2000, the URI plans to stage global ceremonies marking the signing of this Charter, for by then the URI hopes to have enrolled 60 million people in what it describes as "a Worldwide Movement to create the United Religions as a lived reality locally and regionally, all over the world."
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