Cham Bumo Gyeong: Episode 313
Cham Bumo Gyeong
Book 11: Ecumenical Initiatives
Chapter 2: The Interreligious Peace Movement and the Blessing Ceremony
Section 1: IRF and the Assembly, The establishment of IRF|
Section 1: IRF and the Assembly, Paragraph 06
Chapter 2. The Interreligious Peace Movement and the Blessing Ceremony
Section 1. IRF and the Assembly
The establishment of IRF
True Parents established the International Religious Foundation (IRF) on April 25, 1983. Two years later, from November 15 to 21, 1985, IRF sponsored the inaugural meeting of the Assembly of the World's Religions at the Americana Great Gorge Resort in McAfee, New Jersey. The purpose of the assembly was to create an integrated movement of the world's faiths. True Parents said that in a world characterized by sudden change, in order to lead humanity in the right direction, religions must work together to substantiate God's Will on earth.
1 The age of individual nation-states has passed. If nations do not enter into alliances with other countries, they cannot survive. It is the same for religions. Science, technology and new ways of thinking are rapidly transforming society. So if you hold to the doctrine of any one religious system, you absolutely will not be able to keep pace with the rate of sudden social change. You will constantly be left behind.
As society's vision develops and expands, therefore, the different religious groups should form themselves into a protective hedge to the north, south, east and west in order to survive and to keep from losing their position. The religious world should form a united front. No matter how much the leaders of a particular faith tradition insist that they are the best or that they represent a conservative tradition that does not need to cooperate with other faiths, the world is flowing toward unity. Religions are continuously being reexamined and rejected and, if they cannot work with others, they will falter and fall out of favor with young people and intellectuals.
Humanity is interwoven and interdependent. We are at a stage at which we cannot survive unless we have the option to assess global issues and change direction based on a unified perspective. Opposing communism or removing deeply embedded corruption is the kind of work that cannot be done without forming alliances. This is why I created the International Religious Foundation.
2 I began the International Religious Foundation in order to bring the religious world together, even though some have called this effort foolish. They have dismissed me in their minds, saying, "For thousands of years Christianity has never been able to coalesce, so how does Reverend Moon think he can unite all the religions of the world?" The media outlets have paid me no attention, but my results in this are amazing, and on a global scale.
Now you must begin a religious coalition movement on university campuses, focusing your energy on professors and university students, as well as on high school and middle school students. This is the era of the younger generation, and unless we focus on the young and generate energy with a religious coalition movement, all religions will begin to lose their ability to contribute to the good of humanity. Therefore, the large, all-encompassing purpose around which religions can unite must be more distinct and compelling than that offered by individual denominations. If we can do that successfully, religions will be drawn to that purpose.
3 I have emphasized that harmony among religions is the one indispensable condition for the realization of world peace. To this day it has been impossible for any one religion to speak for the totality of God's Will, with the result that the different faiths inevitably have varying views. But we are brothers and sisters in one great family under one Heavenly Parent, and conflict and hatred among religions are wrong. I already have met God in the spirit world, as well as the founders of the great religions. I have spoken with them many times on my path of spiritual investigation. To this day, I experience the presence of God and have deep inspirational communication with Him in my daily life. If God does not exist, how could such a person as me, who was born in a remote village, among a weak, oppressed and exploited people, create a worldwide spiritual foundation in the face of misunderstanding and unspeakable persecution? How could I come to convene meetings of the world's top religious leaders and be standing here offering this address to you? The purpose and the means of the Unification movement were decided upon and brought to fruition based on guiding principles given by God. Our activities and the clear content of our teachings originated from God.
The International Religious Foundation is planning to hold the Assembly of the World's Religions in 1993, for the sake of commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Parliament of the World's Religions held in Chicago in 1893. A series of events will prepare for this global, interreligious exposition by making clear the universal Principle immanent in all living beings and thoroughly uplifting the variety of its revelations. The purpose of the Assembly of the World's Religions is to advance the world of peace that all human beings desire.
4 The Grand Mufti of Syria has been working for 40 years to bring Judaism, Christianity and Islam into oneness. In the course of this, he was opposed and became discouraged. He suffered imprisonment several times and was unable to accomplish his vision. When he heard through the Council for the World's Religions that I am engaged in the same work, he asked to meet me. He was surprised by the scope of God's vision for the world's religions, saying things like "Surely such a work can be done if this person takes the lead." At a gathering of 25,000, he announced, "Since Father Moon is already putting into practice the plan for the unification of religions that I have been developing for 40 years, I ask all people who follow me to mobilize fully and support Father Moon!" This is how the world is changing.
5 To unify Judaism, Christianity and Islam is not easy. What do we have to do in order to bring them into oneness? We must endure, all the while maintaining a parental heart and having a mind of love greater than that of Jesus, Muhammad, Moses and Abraham. How to be able to persevere is the important issue. A leader must emerge who is able to say, "I love Muhammad and Islam. I also love Jesus and Christianity. And in addition, I love Moses and the people of Israel." If such a person does not appear, the world's religions will not be able to become one.
We held the second Assembly of the World's Religions beginning August 16, 1990. Why do you think I created this organization, which stirred up controversy in the religious world? Since we cannot find unity even within one Christian denomination, my insistence that I will create a unity of the world's religions from a perspective transcending particular religions made it seem as though I had lost my mind.
Even though I am fully engaged in the work of harmonizing religions, most Unificationists around the world still need to learn more about the importance of this. For religions to come together, there must be common key points within the differing views of the various faiths. There must be such key starting points, philosophical teachings that all religions share. I have to arm the members of the Unification Church with such understanding, giving them the conviction that they will be able to overcome the difficulties they face in the world. While determining how to do this, I had to go all the way to God's throne, the source of ideas.
True Parents invited 280 theologians and respected religious scholars to New York in January 1981 for the sake of creating a global interreligious movement, which they called the New Ecumenical Research Association (New ERA). In December of that year, they held a conference in Hawaii entitled "God: The Contemporary Discussion" (the "God Conference"), attended by 160 theologians, religious scholars and philosophers. On the foundation of discussing God from various religious perspectives, this conference fulfilled True Parents' desire for religious solidarity for the first time.
In 1982, True Parents invited young people representing 12 religions to attend a training session, with the objective of energizing religious coalition building. At this first Youth Seminar on the World's Religions, in which these young people made a pilgrimage to the holy sites of their various faiths, True Parents taught them the value of harmony and understanding among religions. In addition, in 1985 True Parents guided the development of the Religious Youth Service (RYS), a new service movement in which young people from all religions worked hand in hand doing public service activities in areas of need.
6 Now in the United States, New ERA is working as an interreligious movement. We are working quickly to gather as many distinguished theologians as we can, hoping to activate as many as 1,000. How different this is from the annual meetings of American theologians where, in 1975 and 1976, Unification Church scholars were not allowed in! The people of the Korean theological world who are opposing us today cannot understand how, in a few short years, Unification theology has risen to hold such a respected position, and how we have been able to sell so many volumes of Unificationist books. Why are we doing this kind of work? If you ask God, "What is Your hope regarding this world?" He would reply, "My hope is that you can gather together all the religious leaders and theologians who are fighting one another, and bring them into oneness so that they will be able to accomplish my Will." Because I understand the reality of this desire of God, I do this work without ceasing, even while I am persecuted and hounded and as accusations of heresy are hurled at me. God needs someone to open the path to religious harmony.
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