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United Religions Intitiative

     Religions attempt to answer two basic questions: What is life all about? How therefore must I behave? The issues are so important that men kill each other over them. Indeed, looking at countries like Cambodia, it is evident that even a peaceful religion like Buddhism cannot stop such violence.
     Fortunately there are signs of reconciliation, with some religions admitting their misdeeds. Christians and Jews have become reconciled, and so have Protestants and Catholics. The willingness of the Vatican to face the issue of the Inquisition is admirable. Judaism and Islam are so close that Disraeli said Islam is Judaism on horseback, but both sides are so obsessed with their victim status that they will not recognize their own shortcomings.
     In this new ecumenical era, can religions talk to each other rather than fight each other? The conferences on world religions initiated in Chicago hoped so, but the Judaism-Islam confrontation cast a shadow on them, and it remains to be seen how far the two religions will cooperate in the United Religions Initiative, which the Episcopal Diocese of California headed by Bishop William Swing launched in 1993. It has its headquarters in San Francisco. Following a meeting at Stanford University in 1998 attended by 208 delegates from around the world, it has issued a United Religions Draft Charter. It is planned to sign the charter in the year 2000. The executive director of United Religions Initiative is the Rev. Charles P. Gibbs. He may be reached at 415/561-2300, or fax to 415/561-2313, or by e-mail to office@ The website is
     The World Association of International Studies recognizes not only the intrinsic importance of religions, but also their influence, both beneficent and evil, on the peace of the world. We wish URI success in increasing the former and lessening the latter. This is a non-sectarian wish.

Ronald Hilton - 11/15/98