UK House of Commons
August 31st, 2010
The initiative of the Inter-Religious Council (IRC) at the United Nations, initiated by Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon as the founding purpose of the Universal Peace Federation (UPF), was yesterday emphasised by his son and successor, Rev. Dr. Hyung Jin Moon, the International Chairman of UPF, in the House of Commons’ Boothroyd room. The Harvard Divinity graduate, Rev. Moon, gave the keynote address commenting on the heritage of the Inter-Religious Council within the UK.
‘I am reminded that the first General Assembly of the United Nations was convened here in London, in 1946, at the Central Hall of the Methodist Church. I also note that the first meeting of the British parliament took place in Westminster Abbey. I believe England has always understood the necessary link between spiritual principles and values, on the one hand, and the public sphere of social, political and economic institutions, on the other hand.....In his message at the United Nations in the year 2000, Father Moon explained that the UN would not be able to fulfil its mission without creating a council that would uphold the spiritual wisdom and heritage of humanity, representing God’s guidance for all of us.’ (speech link here) Rev Marcus Braybrooke's speech link here. Imam Dr Sajid speech link here. Photos here.
This was the first time that the Rev Hyung Jin Moon had spoken publicly in the UK. It was a contribution that was well received and his religious background and knowledge provides much hope for UPF and the development of an IRC.
Rev. Dr. Marcus Braybrooke, the President of the World Congress of Faiths, spoke of the origins of the IRC in the initial discussions of the composition of the UN in the mid 1940’s. (Full speech link here)
‘The need for a religious or spiritual presence at the UN has long been recognised by the World Congress of Faiths. Soon after the outbreak of the Second World War, Sir Francis Younghusband, the founder of the World Congress of Faiths, said, 'No reconstituted League of Nations will be of the slightest avail unless it is inspired by an irresistible spiritual impulse.' In 1943, George Bell, Bishop of Chichester and a leading member of WCF, said in the House that 'an association between the International authority and representatives of the living religions of the world' was of vital importance.’
Rev Imam Sajid gave a valuable contribution as a UPF Global Peace Council member (Full speech link here). He raised questions about the fair representation and qualifications to be an IRC member. He asked what was feasible in the medium term to accomplish within the UN structure. He specifically thought the IRC should be limited to an advisory council so as to be accepted by the member states of the UN. Two points added were the wish that the ‘council is to bring the human family closer’ and ‘an interreligious council is perceived as and proves to be a counterbalancing force of extremism, bigotry and exclusivity.’
The comments from the audience explored the relationship between religion and politics:
1) That we should have a Petition at each of the consultations and promote an Early Day Motion on this issue among MPs.
2) How do we prevent religious leaders aggrandising against states or states imposing laws on religions?
3) The religious process will inevitably become politicised.
4) How can we get non-religious people to accept the importance of spiritual and religious values?
5) The power of politics can influence minds but religion can change the hearts of people to affect the quality of relationships between people, communities and nations. (For more responses click here)
It was a significant event for the UPF-UK given the presence of the International UPF Chairman, International President, Dr Thomas Walsh and the International Secretary General, Taj Hamad.
It was a memorable occasion also because of the passion and enthusiasm of Ambassadors for Peace to support the development of the Inter-Religious Council which is UPF's founding vision.
One reflection that expressed this enthusiasm: ‘I'm so humbled by the goodwill and friendship that was on display and the immeasurable will to create a body in the UN so desperately needed to give the faithful a voice. I will do everything I am able to support the initiative, in prayer and human intervention. I hope we can see both the decided affirmation and progress at the meeting in October.’