Articles From the July 1995 Unification News
The Inter Religious Federation For World Peace International Religious Foundation - Developments in Interfaith Activities
by Frank Kaufmann-NYC
Apologies deep and wide to the readership of Unification News. Great investment and great achievement has transpired under the banner of inter-religious activity founded by Reverend Moon. In the past we have managed to maintain steady reportage on these pages. This year, however, we've fallen behind in that commitment. Much travel has had something to do with this. Won't they allow pencils on airplanes you ask? Alright, no excuses.
Unification News readers understand the basic principles and vision for interfaith activity founded by Reverend Moon. Religion (all religions) provides human beings access to God's Will (or whatever word or concept is preferred, recall here that a minority strain of Buddhism, for example is agnostic about "God." Confucianists think of "Heaven" and so forth). The source of peace and all ideals is God (by whatever name, and enough with the qualifiers for now... you get the idea). Thus we cannot reasonably hope to see the advent of peaceful times (at any level, from inner peace to Peace on Earth) without the insights provided by the great religious traditions. Father has said religion is like the mind. Politics, economics and so forth is like the body. Religion should provide clear guidelines for the way our human race should go, it should reveal God's principles and God's Providence; the way to peace.
This basic purpose for religion makes it all the more tragic that religions today (as they have always been) are fractured in conflict and discord at every level, and in every direction; across religions, within religions, between intellectuals and activists, conservatives and progressives, and so forth. "How on earth," we ask, "can such a splintered and fractious community reveal God's secrets of peace?" Father's desperate desire and great effort through the interfaith organizations he's founded, is to bring religious leaders and believers into harmony and cooperation, so that the one true God can express His singular Will for human beings in a universally recognizable and communicable way. Until recently this effort has consisted of conferences, publications, service and educational programs, high level diplomacy and negotiations, grass roots activism, and so forth. Two decades of such activity at a phenomenal pace has established the IRF and IRFWP, despite prejudice and persecution, as significant in this challenging arena of human affairs.
This year a radically new aspect arose within the purview of this interfaith work. It stems from 1992. In April of 1992, Father and Mother Blessed 43 Muslim couples from 9 nations. In August of 1992, Parents Blessed 28 couples from 7 major religious traditions. These Blessed couples remain faithful members of their respective religions. Once these inter-religious Blessings occurred the Blessing emerged from being, at one stage in the providence, "particular" religious activity, to becoming, when providential conditions allowed, interfaith activity. But this should not be misunderstood. What it means is that the Blessing for all else it is, is also the means by which religious leaders and believers can harmonize in loving cooperation. It goes without saying that from among competing theories on how the world's religions might come together, doing so through the Blessing is perhaps the most radical. One might say, it is a uniquely Unification theory of interfaith. Most interfaith activity proceeds along unreflected upon assumptions that good will, and imitation of secular procedures for dialogue and negotiations can for some reason or another dissolve the history of inter-religious conflict.
In 1991 on the foundation of 15 years of investment in world-level interfaith through the New Ecumenical Research Association (New ERA) and IRF, Father inaugurated the Inter Religious Federation for World Peace (IRFWP). The structure of the IRFWP includes a non- Unificationist as Secretary General, 7 Presidents, and a Presiding Council, the significant majority of which are non-Unificationists. These prominent religious figures lead the IRFWP grounded in their own religious conviction, and their own concepts and theories of interfaith activities. They admire Father's commitment, and share his ideals of peace among the religions and peace on earth. They do NOT necessarily share his view that the best way to pursue these ideals is through the Blessing. For this reason, the IRFWP does NOT involve itself in that unique approach to interfaith which involves leaders and believers in the Blessing. It dedicates itself strictly along lines of classical interfaith activities including dialogue, conferences, diplomatic negotiations, and publications. The IRF however, which is led entirely by Unificationists, has dedicated itself ardently to the pursuit of interfaith harmony through the advocacy of the inter-religious Blessing. These two lines of activity have comprised our efforts since September 1994.
The International Religious Foundation
Beginning in September, 1994, 6 members of the IRF formed a team to develop plans and materials for promoting the Blessing among members of the world's religions. By December, 1994 this team had produced a Blessing Video entitled "World Peace Through Ideal Families" which was produced in collaboration with Manhattan Center Studios, and debuted on Parents' Birthday during evening entertainment. The IRF multiplied 100's of these videos and made them available for the asking the world over.
In addition to the Video, the IRF team also produced an attractively designed brochure for the purpose of introducing the Blessing to members of the world's religions. This brochure, entitled "Marriage, Family, and World Peace," was reproduced in the thousands and were distributed world-wide. In addition to this brochure the IRF team produced an education manual entitled "Introducing the Blessing to Members of Other Faiths," which was distributed to all continental, regional, and national leaders, in order to support their witnessing efforts.
Finally members of this team produced a four lecture slide program entitled "The Loving Family and World Peace." These materials were distributed world-wide, together with a letter to all Unification leaders explaining that the members were willing to travel to their country to help with witnessing to religious leaders, to lecture at VIP Blessing seminars, and so forth.
The materials proved to have good appeal. Additionally, many countries DID request a visit from IRF leaders, and finally the slide program resulted in good fruits for the inter-religious participation at the up-coming Blessing. From December, 1994 IRF leaders gave 43 VIP Blessing education seminars in 18 countries. Even Reverend Kwak spent a week in India meeting with religious leaders, in some case for the Blessing, and in others for discussions of IRFWP leadership. Through this effort several hundred social and religious leaders, and more than 100,000 couples from the world's religions have signed up for the Blessing. Despite the contribution of this IRF team in terms of material and personal support, the several hundred thousand couples from the world's religions who will be Blessed this August, have only the foundation of indemnity of the True Parents, and the sacrifice of the Unification missionaries to thank. Currently the activity of the IRF Blessing Education Team involves preparation of the couples, the sites, the record keeping, and preparations for Blessed Couple Education which must occur after the Blessing. Also a few VIP seminars are still slated to take place. We are in constant contact with Unification missionaries in the field.
The Inter Religious Federation For World Peace
In addition to our commitment to the Inter Religious Blessing, these same people have been involved in conceiving, administering, and serving several important interfaith conferences and other interfaith activities.
Religious Youth Service
Inter Religious Group Works in Croatian Refugee Camps
From April 4 - 14, 1995, forty young people from 22 nations, representing 7 religious traditions worked to restore refugee camps in Croatia. The program attracted national level leadership both from social and religious leaders. United Nations representatives participated in the education program, the Head of the Croatian Ministry of Refugees and Misplaced Persons worked closely with the program, and the national media, including television gave a great deal of positive coverage at this event.
IRFWP Conference On "Building Inter-Religious Cooperation"
Christian, Muslim and Jewish Leaders from Eastern Europe and Former Yugoslavia
On April 8 and 9th, 1995, Croatian and other European Religious leaders representing Christian, Muslim, and Jewish traditions held a conference to discuss the role of these religions in pursuing peace in the region. Public panels with presentations from select members of this conference occurred both in Zagreb, and later in Varazdin, the site of the refugee camps that were served.
IRFWP Conference On "Dialogue For Christian-Muslim Collaboration"
Christian and Muslim Leaders for War Zones
From May 29 - June 1, 1995 Christian and Muslim leaders from Russia, Chechnya, Bosnia, Slovenia, as well as Western European countries gathered to take on the intense, high profile issues that plague our world and dominate the international headlines in these days. 32 participants in all dedicated themselves to analysis of the inter- religious relations in the regions from which they came. The second phase of the conference involved the presentations from the leaders in which they proposed and designed concrete plans for collaboration. These plans were debated and fine-tuned for the purpose of their ultimate implementation.
IRFWP Conference On "Muslim-Christian Dialogue: Problems And Possibilities"
Muslim and Christian Scholars and Leaders Study Educational Possibilities
This conference which lasted from June 4 - 8, 1995 involved Christian and Muslim scholars and leaders from 8 nations who gathered to discuss the larger more enduring issues in the relationship between these to great world religions. This conference was co-sponsored with Rennison College at the University of Waterloo, in Toronto Canada. IRFWP Secretary General, Darrol Bryant convened the conference with an eye to producing a University text which could be used to educate and introduce these religions, as well as the dynamics of interfaith dialogue to college aged young people.
IRFWP Conference On "Christianity In The Americas: Visions, Histories And Realities"
The Role of Christianity in the Establishment of Peace, Justice, and Prosperity in the Western Hemisphere
From June 23 - 26, 1995, 22 Christian scholars, theologians, and clerics gathered in Santa Fe, New Mexico to discuss the history and present reality of Christian Ecumenical relations in the Americas. Representatives from North, Central, and South America (5 nations), spent three days deeply engaged in conversation on sensitive issues of missions, evangelization, Protestant - Catholic relations, liberation theology, rich and poor citizenry, and many other issues which are crucial to the future of our hemisphere.
It is, in many ways painful, to reduce these tens of deeply moving and globally significant events to an annotated listing. Each of these conferences, as well as the Blessing Education Seminars, are rife with intellectually stimulating themes and issues, as well as with spiritual and emotionally stirring moments of realization, reconciliation, and discovery. It is my deep hope that we will be able to bring some of these stories and testimonies to the readers of Unification News as time goes by. Despite this feeling of loss, to have to present these events in such a staccato and arid fashion, I am pleased that the good work of the IRF and the IRFWP, which has been hidden in recent times can now come to light, even if only cursorily.
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