IIC Newsletter 17: June 2002

IIC Newsletter 17: June 2002
Religious Freedom

IIC Annual Conference, 6 and 7 April 2002 at Harris Manchester College, Oxford

Participants came from 11 countries and 9 religious traditions and were welcomed by Jim Kenney, IIC trustee. He quoted Hans Kung that ‘any issue that has a measure of profundity has a measure of ambiguity’. Religious freedom concerns certainly fit that bill. Accordingly, after a global overview of religious freedom situations from Zarrin Caldwell and John Taylor of the International Association for Religious Freedom, participants were asked to consider together some of the complexities of a religious freedom case study.

INFORM: Recently, the special Rapporteur on Religious Intolerance, Abdelfattah Amor, indicated that the ‘world-wide trend as regards religion and belief is towards increased intolerance and discrimination against minorities.’ Eileen Barker, London School of Economics and INFORM (Information Network Focus on Religious Movements), argued that the ignorance about religions at individual and state levels could lead to inappropriate actions and wrong consequences. The label ‘cult’ and the language used to refer to ‘cult’ activities created negative images. For instance, newspapers may focus on suicides by cult members so raising the question why they are so inclined to such acts. However, the suicide rate among Anglicans might actually be much higher but does not make the news. ‘Mental manipulation’ or ‘brainwashing’ are often linked to ‘cults’ but are, in fact, something they are not very good at as membership numbers remain low and turnover is high, with people leaving of their own free will after some time with no need to be de-programmed. Eileen pointed out that she regularly tries to ‘brainwash’ or influence her students and children with little effect! Legally, there is no need to define religion or particular religions as existing criminal law can be applied to all people, religious or not, who commit criminal acts.

EUROPE: Merudevi dasi, ISKCON Communications Institute and author of a recently published paper on Religious Freedom and New Religious Movements in Europe, gave several examples of concerns in contemporary Europe with a particular focus on France. Ignorance about religions and a fear of ‘cults’ has led to repressive legislation there that is influencing other European countries. As the ‘Mother of democracy’, there is a danger that France’s actions may legitimise similar acts in other countries. This can have serious consequences for people – loss of jobs, careers, businesses, custody of children etc – a response to religious plurality that is both reactive and defensive. Other European countries, such as Sweden, have developed dialogue and research as tools for a more measured approach. Even so, these countries have not, as yet, denounced the new legislation in France even though it identifies a large number of groups as ‘cults’ and gives powers to accuse them of ‘mental manipulation’ and even dissolve them.

TIBET: Nick Gray’s stunning and moving documentary film Escape from Tibet tells the story of a group of Tibetans escaping across the high Himalayas into Nepal and then on to Dharamsala in India. Two young brothers are especially featured, Kelsang and Lobsang Rinchen, and they were with us at the conference as was Kesang Takla from Tibet House, London. The film tells a living story still without a happy ending as thousands more Tibetans, young and old, are compelled to attempt the treacherous mountain pathways to escape the aggression and suppression meted out by those who occupy their land. As Kesang Takla pointed out, religious and cultural freedom in Tibet for Tibetans is non-existent and institutions like the Human Rights Commission do nothing to support those freedoms. Trade with China has a greater priority and groups like our conference participants can play an important role in influencing governments to enact the ethical codes they espouse and put principles before profit.

IRAN: Nazila Ghanea-Hercock told us that there are around 300-350,000 Bahais in Iran, about 1.3% of 1% of the population, making them the largest religious minority. Bahais have never been constitutionally recognised in Iran and their activities have always been restricted. Between 1979 and 1991 large numbers of Bahais were murdered, imprisoned, forced to convert, had property confiscated and were refused passports. Since 1991 killings and torture have reduced, marriages can be registered and some passports are being issued but still not one Bahai has been staff or student at any Iranian university since 1979, none can work in the Civil Service and, for the past 23 years, Bahais have not received their pensions. Assets have not been returned, holy places not respected and access to them denied, and the Bahai cemetery was bulldozed, even though burials had only recently been permitted on waste ground. Nazila felt accommodation was ultimately both inevitable and possible as Bahais and Muslims share a common religious root and history.

CHILE: Reynaldo Mariqueo, a Mapuche from Chile, told us something about the un-named religion of his people, mostly led by women, and how an imposed Catholicism was connected by his people to the loss of the independence, human rights and respect that Mapuches now experience in Chile. Constitutionally indigenous people there do not exist and are discriminated against, even though officially they share the same rights as all Chilean citizens. This is a global problem for indigenous peoples where over 300 million are not recognised and so have no voice or right to self-determination. The UN does nothing to counter these human rights violations. Both Reynaldo and Nazila understand these violations as a concern reaching across all boundaries, as they demonstrate the possible treatment of any religious or ethnic minority.

PUNJAB: In India, a volunteer led organisation, FATEH (Fellowship of Activists Embrace Humanity), has been established to help the rehabilitation of Punjabi Sikhs who have suffered from religiously motivated violence and torture. Navleen Kaur told the story of a visit she and others made to a village household in the Punjab where the 22 year old son had returned home from dental school one weekend only to be arrested by the police and taken away for questioning. The policeman in charge admitted they had probably made a mistake but they took the boy anyway. His parents had saved for 20 years to give him an education and neither were political activists. The boy was not even a committed Sikh. Fifteen years later the mother had still not accepted that her son would not come home. The father, after some years, had seen a photo of the policeman in the paper announcing his promotion to a post in Delhi, and set out to find him. Poor and powerless he finally managed to meet the officer who eventually remembered the boy. Indeed, he had not been an activist, but too bad, he nevertheless still ended up in a river. This attitude to Punjabi Sikhs, many poor and illiterate, is not uncommon. Other minorities suffer in the same way. The killings and torture have left many broken families, children without fathers, and widows evicted from their husband’s family home. For many this situation is a ‘silent nightmare.’

SUMMARY:

We all felt rather silent after the impact of so many sorrowful situations. During the closing plenary we shared a solidarity of silence for all those who suffer from religious discrimination, persecution and torture. Post-conference, we need to find our individual and collective voices to denounce religious intolerance everywhere and to promote the rights of religious and spiritual people to belief with integrity.

Sandy Bharat

Find more on religious freedom issues at: www.iarf-religiousfreedom.net

Sri Swami Satchidananda one of our International Consultants reached Mahasamadhi on the 18th of August 2002.

For our newletter January 2000 he wrote about prayer and meditation. Here is a quote from that:

I love how Jesus used the word “heart” to speak about the doorway to God. The term, “heart,” stands for both the physical and the subtle—it’s the union of the body and mind. In one word Jesus was telling us two things. Let your physical heart be clean and your mental heart also be clean. That is the same principle behind Yoga. And that is why I appreciate interfaith prayer so much. It enables us to gain an appreciation for how there is one truth and many paths; that essentially we are all one in spirit. What is always so uplifting and inspiring is to experience our underlying unity, as children of one God—as the beautiful variety of flowers all together in one bouquet. “Truth is One, Paths are Many.” Let’s enjoy the unity in the diversity. God bless you. OM Shanthi.

For more information: www.yogaville.org

Swami Agnivesh : Where is Our Voice?

We are here for peace. Here to meditate and pray for peace… Peace comes first within and then it reflects outside. It reflects outside as love, compassion, tolerance and social justice. But egotism and the new religion of the Market are sweeping the global world ignoring all human and environmental concern. It is a world where only the share-holder value and profit dominate and where we religious leaders stand by and do nothing or next to nothing…..We don’t live up to the standards we preach. We like to be in league with the powerful, the famous and the mighty and ignore half of our brothers and sisters or feed them with some future heavenly reward or some better rebirth in a future life. What is the use of quoting holy books if they do not translate into action?…No system of injustice and of exploitation can subsist unless we religious leaders give the moral and ethical platform for it…. We are at the beginning of a new millennium. Humanity has all the resources and the means to eradicate some of the worst problems that humankind is suffering from….Can we give the world a spiritual and social orientation that is truly uplifting, humanistic and universal? Can we refrain from our sectarian outlook and find a common platform to contribute our share for a better and more peaceful world? And finally, can we give half of humanity, the women, a rightful place in the religious field?

Extract from Swami Agnivesh’s address to the Conference of the World’s Religious Leaders in the Vatican on 23 January 2002; quoted in Just Commentary: www.just-international.org

Bridges for Peace: Interfaith Initiatives

IIC with Oxford University’s Department for Continuing Education Rewley House – 28 May 02

Introducing the speakers at the seminar, Marcus Braybrooke suggested that, among those who write in the mass media, ‘Religions’ are perceived as contributors to the conflict in the world. There is, quite evidently, a type of fundamentalism which finds strength in separating its adherents from other human-beings by narrow definitions of orthodoxy. This makes it easy to daemonise people, to polarise the world into the good guys and the bad guys. Those who seek to abuse faith, by using it to define political loyalties, like to define the boundaries of exclusion. But in all the great world religions there are those who perceive their faith as a pilgrimage towards communion with the Transcendent. At the level of spiritual experience, we have a common recognition of the need to develop compassionate love for our fellows, and to develop the kind of humility that accepts our own imperfections. We accept too the need to rebuild trust, and we recognise our need for penitence, forgiveness and reconciliation. At this starting point we need to become aware of the good and the grubby in our own lives as well as the qualities and faults in others. We must start from the acceptance of our common humanity.

Oxford Research Group: Janet Bloomfield discussed the extra-ordinary double standards in the arguments of the Bush administration as it attempts to justify waging war on Iraq. Arguments used against Iraq could equally well be used against Pakistan and India or Israel and China if they are really concerned about the potential use of atomic weapons. Britain and France are still developing nuclear weapons as well, but at this instant America does not see them as a threat to the supply of oil and gas to their ‘International Companies’. The World Court declared the use of atomic weapons illegal in 1996, so it is impossible to justify their possession on any legal grounds!

Northern Ireland Interfaith Forum: Shaunaka Risi Das also emphasised the issue of double standards and the tendency of extremists to claim justification for their cause, hijacking the support of ‘God’, by one name or another. Dialogue for peace is all about building relationships of trust which can only be achieved where there is a recognition of humility and integrity and that requires something with more depth than the ‘sound-bite’. Education is vital for the elimination of ignorance and prejudice.

Initiatives for Change: Peter Riddell spoke of how change must begin with the individual engaged in dialogue. There is an enormous backlog of ignorance and prejudice to be cleared before positive relationships begin to develop. There has to be an appreciation of shared ethical standards before dialogue will be meaningful. Only then will the gulf between practice and principle be narrowed.

World Faiths Development Dialogue: Wendy Tyndale spoke about the need to restore a sense of equity in trade for a large proportion of the nations of the world. Although the World Bank and IMF were formed to eliminate poverty in the third world, the principles of free-trade are frequently avoided by the affluent countries of the West. They are the first to introduce tariffs and subsidies as soon as they run into economic difficulties. This makes nonsense of UN resolutions and IMF rules and is a deep source of resentment. There is also a need to cancel unjust debts which can’t be repayed and to co-ordinate the work of NGOs so that they supplement each other’s efforts rather than work in competition with each other.

The other speaker was Jehangir Sarosh from the World Conference on Religion and Peace. Years ago I resigned from the Royal Navy because I was very uncomfortable with NATO’s first-strike policy in the ‘cold-war’. Coming from this background, it was exciting for me to hear of conferences where leaders in the fields of Peace-making, Interfaith Dialogue and Interfaith Development Work are meeting with senior defence-analysts, politicians, bankers and economists to work at resolving the causes of conflict.

The dialogue continues on methods of resolving conflict where it breaks out, and on how to effect reconciliation when the conflict has been brought to a halt. All have a common interest in these problems and there is an emerging awareness among the ‘Power brokers’ that the world’s religions can be central to the resolution of Conflict rather than a significant part of its cause.

Philip Ind, Oxford Diocesan Council for Interfaith Concerns

Pactifism

The daily news, politicians and people seem to be imprisoned in an endless historical stream of aggression, revenge, macho-ism and destruction; perhaps it’s more about fear, and a lack of self-confidence.

What we are missing in leaders such as Bush and Blair are the examples and ideals set by Gandhi, the Dalai Lama and others. People call these pacifists; often not realising that, to be like Gandhi and the Dalai Lama, you need to be very strong, active, brave, and willing to risk your life, lose friends, everything.

That’s why I prefer the term Pactifism, which indicates both, peace, action and pact.

Exemplary people like Gandhi and the Dalai Lama always try to achieve the best, not only for themselves or their own group of people, but also for their opponents. They also see their opponents as fellow human beings and never try to denigrate them. Only this allows a sustainable, peaceful solution of conflicts to evolve, a mutual approach, a pact.

Jael Bharat

Religious Pluralism in the USA and UK — with Prof Diane Eck and Dr Harriet Crabtree – School of Oriental and African Studies, London 9th May 2002

Diane Eck began her remarks by painting a picture of the large scale immigration into the USA, following the 1965 Immigration Act, which had brought peoples of many different faiths, cultures and nationalities into a predominantly Christian society.

Whilst teaching at Harvard University in the 1990’s she decided to set up a research project, with the aid of her students, to discover how the new communities were affecting the life of the country, by asking three major questions:

1. Who is where? There had been no religious mapping at any time and as there was no national census, it was not known where different faith communities had been established or in what numbers.

2.How are these faith traditions changing on American soil? And thirdly,

3. As a result, how is America changing?

There had been a vast spread across the country of Inter Faith Councils established during the 1990’s, reflecting a steady integration into local community life of Muslim, Hindu, Jain, Buddist, Sikh and Zoroastrian communities. This had been accompanied by the building of many new places of worship in towns and cities and a welcome expansion of “good neighbourliness” and a better understanding of non-Christian cultures, traditions and teachings by the general population.

The issue of Civil Rights for new immigrants, in respect of dress, religious festivals, planning permission for places of worship, etc. had been addressed, particularly as members of new communities had begun to take their place in a variety of public positions and at high levels in civil society.

There had been some instances of hate crimes and vandalism following the 11th September outrage but these had been far out-weighed by abundant expressions of friendship and understanding both at a personal level and through the holding of Inter Faith services and meetings.

Harriet Crabtree began her remarks by saying her reflections are drawn from her own experiences. “We are at present going through difficult times, as faith communities in the UK are tied by invisible threads to actions around the world”.

She too marked the time of immense change during the 1950’s and 1960’s with the wave of refugee immigrants but, in contrast to the American experience, pointed out that the new arrivals were concentrated in a limited number of towns and cities.

Harriet described her childhood experiences, growing up in Yorkshire, and having no knowledge whatsoever – in common with the vast majority of the population – of anybody existing outside white, nominally Christian communities. Many British people had remained totally un-touched by pluralism.

This is in stark contrast to the situation to-day and we await with interest the results of the national census which, for the first time, had a question on religious identity (it was in the 1980’s that identity had become faith based as opposed to ethnicity).

Harriet referred to the emergence of many new umbrella organisations during the past 25 years as Government began to take religious groups seriously. One such is the Inner Cities Religious Council, set up to comment on religious issues affecting faith communities in the cities.

Another was the Inter Faith Network, in which she has worked for the past twelve years, and which has provided, for the nine major faith communities in the UK, a shared platform – a means of coming together to address issues of common interest and concern. Through years of hard work and application the Network has established a sound relationship with Central and Local Government, of mutual benefit to its membership and the Government, which it has assisted with the arrangements for the major Millenium multi-faith event and plans for the Queen’s Golden Jubilee celebrations.

Dr Crabtree concluded her remarks by describing what she sees as a gulf between the high profile inter faith London scene and grass-roots realities in towns such as Bradford and Oldham. She considers inter faith dialogue to be at a cross roads; it must not be afraid to face hard realities and address severe social, economic and political problems, in order to help create a decent society for all.

Rosalind Preston OBE

Thanks to the Chair Charanjit Ajit Singh

IIC 10th Anniversary

The International Interfaith Centre was founded in December 1993 so in 2003 we celebrate ten years of IIC activity.

Several events are being planned to mark this special year and to launch new developments. Thank you for all your support so far. We very much hope you can join in some of our 10th birthday programmes.

IIC Friends Day

On June 6th Friends of the IIC met again at Somerville College for a special day together based on the theme of Keith Ward’s latest book, ‘God: A Guide for the Perplexed’

In the morning, after an update by IIC staff, Deepak Naik, IIC trustee, and Marcus Braybrooke and Norman Solomon, both IIC Patrons, shared thoughts and insights on inter-religious dialogue and developments.

After the usual splendid lunch, Keith Ward, Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford University, was interviewed about his personal faith and interfaith beliefs and experiences, an opportunity appreciated by all present.

If you would like to share what Keith said, the video of this interview is now available.

Reflection on the Day

We were pleased to be able to attend, for the first time, the IIC Friends Day on 6th June and it was stimulating to be among people so dedicated to Interfaith dialogue. We found all the talks enlightening and full of ideas for us to build on in our own situation and to help us to encourage others to work together as a global family. We very much liked the sentiments in the quotation, expressed by Keith Ward, from the Kafka short story about the purpose of our lives, showing that just one smile at somebody can change their life. We came away smiling and hopeful too. Martin and Celia Turner.

Reconciling the Children of Abraham

The Oxford Round Table of Religions in collaboration with The International Interfaith Centre were hosts to this adventurous meeting in the Council Chamber of Oxford Town Hall on June 11th. I thought it adventurous because of the use of the “reconciling” in the title. My own response to the adventure is a grateful but modified “Yes”. You might call it a “Yes.but.”

The two main speakers, Eliyahu McLean, director of the Peacemaker Community, Israel, and Ibrahim Abuelhawa, a Palestinian “ambassador of goodwill”, born and bred on the Mount of Olives, shared a single message – “We must listen to each other.” Ibrahim, despite his faltering English, was willing to reach out to anyone of good will. Eliyahu spoke of hundreds of Jews who wanted to live in peace with Palestinians.

The “But” dimension was not long in coming. Two very able respondents, Daniel Reisel, an Israeli Jew, and Mezma Qato, a Palestinian Muslim, dug beneath what was before us, namely the will to share a platform, and confronted the deep hurt of the Palestinians, occupied, powerless, oppressed. I felt the resentment of both respondents who wanted much more than words of reconciliation. Eliyahu’s claim that there was narrow fundamentalism on both sides was angrily rejected. When one side has overwhelming power and the other has nothing but humiliation, there has to be action to put right the injustice.

Questions from the audience kept the ball in the same court. The current role of the United States unreservedly supporting the Israeli Government was seen as feeding the continuing conflict. I found myself wondering what chance the aspirations of thousands and perhaps millions of ordinary people could have against the entrenched vested interests of the political, military and industrial machine of the world’s one super power. Perhaps they all believe in reconciling the children of Abraham, provided it is on their terms.

I’ll end with an Oxford Friend’s testimony. Brian Philips writes of Kemal, a Bosnian Muslim who, despite experiencing the ultimate of suffering, refuses to give way to vengeance. “Above all else, what Kemal has taught me is just how arduous is the path of non-resistance to evil. I sometimes think that we Quakers are so eager to get to that sweet destination at the end of our peace journeys – the place of forgiveness and reconciliation – that we’re apt to overlook the dark and difficult bit in the middle. It’s the stretch of the journey we’d rather not have to acknowledge – the bit where we have to wrestle with the very human capacity for anger and even violence in ourselves and others. But if we wish to avoid the trap of what the German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer called “cheap grace”, we need to accept that true reconciliation is almost always a very hard won thing” (“Affirming the Light”, Quaker Peace and Social Witness. 2002. )

Richard Thompson, Oxford Society of Friends

Thanks to the Chair, Shahin Bekhradnia.

The Oxford Centre for Interfaith Studies

An organic development of the IIC to provide an educational forum for interfaith in the broadest and deepest sense.

Activities envisioned include: -an interfaith house for scholars and activists to live together in dialogue during their stay in Oxford – youth exchanges – interfaith lectures, seminars, courses – research on interfaith methodologies / developments – educational publishing – interfaith archive/library- interfaith exhibitions – bursaries/scholarships – interfaith summer schools – local interfaith activity

Our programmes will begin in 2003.

Currently we are fundraising for a building for the Study Centre.

If you would like to help or know someone who could, do get in touch.

IARF Congress

By request, IIC organized the interfaith lectures and workshops for the International Association for Religious Freedom Congress in Budapest this July.

Dr Harriet Crabtree of the Inter Faith Network for the United Kingdom (IFN) gave the main lecture and two IARF Young Adults also contributed: Over 100 people signed up for the workshops which were geared towards enabling people to exchange experiences and principles of interfaith dialogue and to plan interfaith projects in their home areas after the Congress. IARF has offered regional support for significant projects emerging from the Congress.

We are very grateful to all lecturers and facilitators who gave up a day to help. Special thanks are due to Harriet Crabtree of the Inter Faith Network UK who not only gave the interfaith lecture but also facilitated a workshop, as did IFN’s Brian Pearce. The IFN’s Guidelines for Building Good Relations with People of Different Faiths and Beliefs was the basis of the first of the three workshops (www.interfaith.org.uk)

Interfaith Experiencesin the Philippines

Extract from a presentation made by Morse Flores, memberof the Ibanag/Kalinga tribe

In terms of religious beliefs in my country, there are 3 main belief systems. First is Christianity (including all it’s various denominations). As we all know, except for East Timor which gained it’s independence this May, Philippines is the only catholic country in Asia where more than 70% (of the total 80 millions Filipinos) are Christians. Muslims comprise 10% (around 10 million). Indigenous Peoples account for more than 10% (15-18 million) throughout the Philippine archipelago.

Recently, my country has been on the front-page of various daily broad sheets and news broadcasts in connection to the conflict in the south (Island of Mindanao). It is a conflict deeply rooted in religion and politics together. Since childhood I have been hearing from some elders and friends that I have to avoid this place and this kind of people. Being identified from the South (Muslim) is equated with being a criminal, secessionist, fundamentalist, terrorist, and other negative connotations, which demoralize a person’s humanness. This is also true about the Indigenous People. We are actually written in Philippine history books as head hunters (savages), uncivilized people who need to be educated and cultured. In the same way, our views of Christians are as bad as theirs about us.

Why do we look at each other like this? It is because this is the way our elders told us. Even our educational system (which is of course very biased) taught us to be like this. It’s a shame to say but it is true. Most of the prejudices of the young people are actually bestowed upon them by their own elders. This is the main reason why even young people, young us we are (from the 3 main groups), cannot talk freely. Indeed the bad perceptions that we have for each other boil from the deepest part of our hearts. Since these bad stigmas were learnt from the people whom we look up to, it is indeed very hard to change but we must. In Manila, we were able to develop an Interfaith Course for 3 months during the summer vacation. The dialogues were conducted every Saturday and Sunday. We even held our mass and rituals in the same venue. Young representatives from the 3 groups came together in one place and discussed everything in our minds. During the 1st month, we had speakers from the Christian faith who shared with us their Christian values and way of life. The 2nd month, it was those from the Islamic faith who talked to us about their Muslim culture and traditions. The 3rd month was reserved for the Indigenous People like me who gave very colorful participation during the 3 months long Interfaith Dialogue.

So what are the greatest lessons that we learned from that programme? We came to realize that religion, in the past and in some cases at present a source of conflict, can actually be a source or instrument for Peace.

I think Karl Marx was wrong when he said that with the advent of communism and modernization religion will soon decay and will become a private matter for individuals. As a matter of fact, in front of his statue (at the Congress venue) we are now having interfaith dialogue on different religious beliefs.

– Interfaith —

Economics as a subject for scientific research is less then 200 years old; ‘development aid’ is less then 40 years old. By comparison, contemporary interfaith just came into being. It seems that 99% of the population does not yet have the information that there are some individuals and organisations doing interfaith work, nor do they know what interfaith means. Hopefully, the network of international interfaith organisations can help make ‘interfaith’ part of everyone’s vocabulary.

Introduction to Interfaith e-learning course

At the beginning of this year the IIC and the IARF began to develop a skills based e-learning course which, when completed, will be freely available to all everywhere.

The project is now being developed with other members of the international interfaith organisations’ network which will make it a rich resource for those wanting to get involved in interfaith issues and activities.You can see the current homepage at www.interfaithstudies.org

Do get in touch with us if you would like to complete a feedback form, contribute in some way, or be kept updated about the course’s availability.

International interfaith organisations network meeting

In March 2001 an informal network of 14 international interfaith organisations emerged from a first meeting in Oxford with the hope of increased communication and cooperation. From 2-4 August this year, representatives from the participating organisations held their second meeting at the Hotel Gellert in Budapest. The first session on Friday evening was used to update everyone present on the work that our organisations are doing. On Saturday, plenary discussions ranged around globalisation, education and connecting youth to our work. This resulted in some joint project ideas to be taken forward and developed by participating organisations. Several of these projects are linked to Barcelona 2004, a cultural event running for 141 days through the summer of 2004. The 2nd week of July is dedicated to inter-religious events and the next Parliament of the World’s Religions will take place there then, from 7-14th (see www.cpwr.org for more details).The next meeting of the network will take place in Oxford from 17-20 September 2003.