Stand Up for the Earth: Affirm the Paris Agreement

The Temple of Understanding, one of the oldest interfaith organizations in North America, stands with our many partners, the Parliament of World Religions, faith leaders of all traditions, corporations, universities and concerned citizens in condemning President’s Trump’s unconscionable action pulling out of the Paris Agreement.  We will continue to work towards a sustainable future in our towns and cities regardless of the lack of support from our misinformed US government leadership. 

Show your support for the Paris Agreement and Climate Action >>


In a recent sermon entitled “Defiant Hope,” Rev. Dr. Jim Antal of the United Church of Christ urged his listeners to speak up about climate issues:

Defiant hope believes that we are called by God to change what appears to be inevitable, and that God has given us everything we need to engage. […] So our first task is to end this silence. And it turns out that the biggest predictor of people’s willingness to take action to defend creation is whether they are in regular contact with others who believe and act like them. In other words, by breaking our silence and sharing our views and values with others, we will empower one another to take action.

And this is where church comes in. Looking back, slavery would not have ended if it hadn’t have been for church. And just as the church responded to God’s call over 200 years ago, God is calling the church of today to defend God’s gift of creation. Humanity will not make the changes science says we must unless the church becomes a center for conversation, discernment, support and action.


From the Parliament of the World’s Religions Statement:

The Parliament of the World’s Religions condemns in the strongest possible terms the President’s decision to renege on the commitment of the United States to the Paris Climate Agreement, a pact signed by 195 nations and formally ratified by 147 nations.

The decision is wrong from every relevant perspective:

  • Scientifically, it is unsound and indefensible.

  • Economically, it undermines the ability of the United States to build a competitive economy for the future, sacrificing US jobs at almost every level of production and service, sacrificing American competitiveness in every market.

  • Medically, it condemns hundreds of thousands to unnecessary sickness and premature death.

  • Politically, it undermines the United States’ credibility and trustworthiness with its strongest allies as well as its fiercest competitors, and thus strikes a self-inflicted blow against national security.

Our condemnation of this decision is based on our conviction that the decision is wrong, but not just in the sense that it is incorrect. This decision is wrong in the sense that it is evil—it will result in devastation to life on Earth for generations to come. Its global consequences and impact on every living being on the planet makes it fundamentally immoral.


From the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Statement:

The Paris Agreement remains a historic treaty signed by 195 Parties and ratified by 146 countries plus the European Union. […]

The Paris Agreement is aimed at reducing risk to economies and lives everywhere, while building the foundation for a more prosperous, secure and sustainable world. It enjoys profound credibility, as it was forged by all nations and is supported by a growing wave of business, investors, cities, states, regions and citizens. We are committed to continue working with all governments and partners in their efforts to fast forward climate action at global and national levels.

 

Interfaith Service of Gratitude and Remembrance (CSW61)

[4/19/17 UPDATE: Scroll down for photos of this beautiful event!]

Temple of Understanding, Parliament of the World’s Religions,
Interfaith Center of New York, World Peace Prayer Society, International Yoga Day Committee at the UN,
United Religions Initiative, and United Methodist Women invite you to attend

The Third Annual Interfaith Service of Gratitude and Remembrance

Thursday, March 16, 2017, 4:45 – 6:00 PM
Church Center for the United Nations, Chapel
44th Street and First Avenue, New York

Join us in prayerful remembrance of those who have gone before us and who continue to inspire our lives. We carry their courage and commitment forward. 

There will be a time to remember those who have passed during this year.

Special music will be provided by The Performance & Peace Initiative with Brandon Perdomo on flute and Caitlin Cawley on Percussion.

  • Rev. Dionne Boissiere, Chaplain of the Church Center for the United Nations
  • Grove Harris, MDiv., The Temple of Understanding
  • Dr. Kusumita Pedersen, Interfaith Center of New York
  • Denise Scotto, Esq., International Yoga Day Committee
  • Monica Willard, United Religions Initiative

“When I dare to be powerful – to use my strength in the service of my vision – then it becomes
less and less important whether I am afraid.“ – Audre Lorde

* * * * *

Photos from the event:

Group, Interfaith Service of Remembrance, CSW61 – March 2017

 

Rev. Dionne Boissiere, Chaplain of the Church Center for the United Nations

 

Denise Scotto, Esq., International Yoga Day Committee

 

Grove Harris, Temple of Understanding

 

Monica Willard, United Religions Initiative

 

Group, Interfaith Service of Remembrance, CSW61 – March 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Repairers of the Breach: Advancing an Interfaith Moral Agenda

We at the Temple of Understanding are inspired by Repairers of the Breach, who are nonpartisan and in the inclusive interfaith tradition of people of faith and no faith advancing a moral agenda:

“Repairers of the Breach, Inc. is a nonpartisan and ecumenical organization that seeks to build a progressive agenda rooted in a moral framework to counter the ultra-conservative constructs that try to dominate the public square. Repairers will help frame public policies which are not constrained or confined by the narrow tenets of neo-conservatism. Repairers will bring together clergy and lay people from different faith traditions, with people without a spiritual practice but who share the moral principles at the heart of the great moral teachings. Repairers will expand a “school of prophets” who can broadly spread the vision of a nation that is just and loving.” [www.breachrepairers.org]

“A truly moral agenda must be anti-racist, anti-poverty, pro-justice, pro-labor, transformative and deeply rooted and built within a fusion coalition.  It would ask of all policy, is the policy Constitutionally consistent, morally defensible and economically sane.  We call this moral analysis and moral articulation which leads to moral activism.”  —Rev. Dr. William, J. Barber, II

 

 

Videos of the sessions of the New Poor People’s Campaign Teach-In are available online.

Part One | Why a Poor People’s Campaign?
Part Two | Voting Rights
Part Three | Race and Poverty Audit
Part Four | Poverty, Economic Inequality and Race
Part Five | Health Care
Part Six | Militarism and the Cost of War
Part Seven | Ecological Devastation and Climate Change

Gender justice is not lifted up as a separate part; we note that 8 of the 14 speakers are women.

 

The first few minutes of Rev. Barber preaching in this video are particularly inspiring and lead into a longer sermon.

Revival and Resiliency After Rejection | Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II

TOU India: Interfaith Harmony and Dialogue Report, 2015-2016

We pleased to share a report from our colleagues at Temple of UnderstandingIndia detailing their programs for 2015-2016. Highlights of TOUIndia’s activities include:

  • Participation in the Parliament of the World’s Religions themed “Reclaiming the Heart of Our Humanity” in October 2015
  • International Interfaith Dialogue on 9th January 2016 themed “The Influence of Religion on the Place of Women in Society,” jointly organized by Der Missionszentrale der Franziskaner, Bonn, Germany; the Center for Peace and Spirituality International; Temple of Understanding—India; and Bahá’í Community of India
  • Interfaith Dialogue for World Peace jointly organized by Temple of Understanding India and Focolare Movement on 20th January 2016 in honour of the visit of Madam Emmaus, President and Mr. Jesus Moran, Co-President of Focolare Movement
  • Round table Conference themed “Religion & Sustainable Development—Fostering Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies” on 23rd November 2016 in collaboration with Woolf Institute, Cambridge and Georgetown University, Qatar. Some 27 outstanding scholars, including members of the Advisory Council of Temple of Understanding India Foundation, were invited by TOUIndia founder/President Hon’ble Dr. Karan Singh for deliberations surrounding the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and the contributions of religious communities towards their fulfillment.

For a full description of TOUIndia’s 2015-2016 interfaith harmony and dialogue programs, please read the full report.

Multifaith Responses to the #Orlando Massacre: Videos, Articles, and Actions

Orlando: Love as an Act of Defiance
Multifaith leaders from across the country come together to mourn, pray, and organize after the mass shooting in Orlando. Hosted by Rev. Paul B. Raushenbush, Senior VP of Public Engagement at Auburn Seminary. #LoveAsDefiance #LoveisLove #PropheticGrief


The Religious Institute, working with partner organizations, has drafted a statement for people of faith to show their support and solidarity with the LGBTQ, Latinx, and Muslim communities as well as those living with mental illness. You’re invited to sign this statement to express your solidarity and support.

SIGN ON to the Religious Institute Statement on the Orlando Massacre


The Huffington Post:

Muslims in NYC Remember the Lives Lost in Orlando


United Religions Initiative:

Why Mourning Orlando in Diverse Communities is Powerful and Necessary“, with links to many communities’ interfaith gatherings.


I’m Done Accommodating Religious Hatred Toward Queer Lives – By Paul Raushenbush, Senior VP of Public Engagement at Auburn Seminary

For too long I have tolerated “Setting a big tent” and “Allowing many points of view” and “Dialogue” when talking about LGBT people as if our lives are up for debate and as if the jury is still out on our humanity, our dignity, or our being made beautifully in God’s image…. All I hear in these conversations now is death.


KAICIID Board of Directors Statement:

“In this deeply painful moment, we extend our prayers and condolences to the families of the victims and those injured in the Orlando attack. This deliberate and merciless massacre is a hate crime that we denounce. We reject violence, in particular when it is perpetrated in the name of religion.

We pledge in the face of this hatred and violence to support those who build bridges of understanding that bring together all communities in respect and understanding and pray they never cease their good works in this supremely important task.”

KAICIID is an intergovernmental organisation mandated to promote dialogue among different religious and cultural groups to promote justice, peace and reconciliation and to counteract the abuse of religion to justify violence. The Centre is  governed by a multi-religious KAICIID Board of Directors, consisting of representatives of five religions – Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism.


Via Democracy Now!:

Openly Gay Muslim Imam Reacts to Orlando: Clubs Like Pulse are Safe Havens for LGBT Muslims, Too

IMAM DAAYIEE ABDULLAH: …one of the issues I think is very important, in many communities of color, there’s a stigma about mental health. And in my pastoral counseling that I provide to not only LGBTMuslims, but also young Muslims, interfaith couples, older Muslims who are now in a different culture, we find that the shaming that comes from acknowledging that one may have some issues that may relate to mental health, often people are not willing to go and seek additional help because of that shaming or that cultural stigma that’s associated with it. And I think that we need to make this change in how people approach mental health, so that people can be helped much earlier in the process if they should exhibit certain issues or certain ways of—in which we show there’s some mental illness issues.

New Partnerships between Religions and International Organizations Tackle Sustainable Development

Via One Country, the Newsletter of the Bahá’í International Community:

BRISTOL, UK — The images of religious leaders in diverse garb, marching behind colorful banners with symbols of the world’s major faiths, conveyed a sense of the sacred nature of a meeting held in this historic English seaport in September 2015.

But at the head of the procession was an ensign with the logo of the United Nations — an institution generally concerned with more worldly affairs.

The juxtaposition, however, conveys well the theme of the meeting and its agenda, which was to develop a series of action plans by faith communities in support of Agenda 2030, the new global development plan adopted by the UN later in the month.

The faith community action plans, which include things like pledges to develop microcredit programs for the poor, increase access to education, plant trees, invest in clean energy, and establish green pilgrimages, were welcomed by officials from the United Nations, who were present at the meeting.

Click to read more on faith communities and sustainable development from One Country >>

Interfaith Prayer Service on Ending AIDS, 6/7/16

World_Aids_Day_RibbonAll are welcome to unite in prayer on the eve of
the United Nations High Level Meeting on Ending AIDS for

an Interfaith Prayer Service on ending AIDS

Tuesday, June 7 at the United Nations Church Center, 5:30pm
777 United Nations Plaza, New York City

We’ll pray together for a strong Political Declaration on AIDS and to strengthen the engagement of faith communities in the comprehensive response to HIV.

After the service, please join us for the book launch of Behold I Make All Things New, published by Church of Sweden. A reception will be held at 8:30pm to celebrate iftar, the daily breaking of the fast during the holy month of Ramadan, with our Muslim colleagues.

Interfaith Service at UN CSW, 3/18/16

CSW Interfaith Service 2016

Interfaith Service of Remembrance and Gratitude

2016 United Nations Commission on the Status of Women
Friday, March 18, 2016, 6:00pm
Chapel of the Church Center for the United Nations
New York, New York

The Temple of Understanding is a co-sponsor and organizing partner of the “Interfaith Service of Remembrance and Gratitude” which was held Friday, March 18th in the Chapel of the Church Center for the United Nations as part of the 2016 Commission on the Status of Women.