Santa Clara University


Organizations and Events that have Promoted Interfaith Dialogue

Appeal of Conscience Foundation

Founded by Rabbi Arthur Schneier in 1965, this interfaith organization of business and religious leaders has worked for religious freedom and human rights throughout the world. “A crime committed in the name of religion is the greatest crime against religion.”

For Schneier’s description of the foundation’s work, see “Religion and Interfaith Conflict: Appeal of Conscience Foundation,” in Smoch, David R., ed. Interfaith Dialogue and Peacebuilding (Washington, D.C.: United States Institute of Peace Press, 2002), 105-14.

Community of Sant’Egidio

This “[Catholic] Church public lay organization” began in Rome following the Second Vatican Council in 1968. It remains a lay movement dedicated to evangelization and charity, still headquartered in the Trastevere in Rome, with 50,000 lay members in seventy different countries. It had had success in diplomatic conflict resolution and in dialogue with Islam. It received UNESCO’s peace award in 2000.

Parliament of World Religions

This body originally met in Chicago in 1893. It was reinstituted one hundred years later.  For the last three meetings, see below.

United Religions Initiative

This organization, founded by William Swing, Episcopal Bishop of California, was fully constituted in 2000. It brings together thousands of members representing more 100 religions, spiritual expressions, and indigenous traditions. For a description of grassroots orientation by its director, Episcopal priest Charles Gibbs, see “The United Religions Initiative at Work,” in Smoch, David R., ed. Interfaith Dialogue and Peacebuilding (Washington, D.C.: United States Institute of Peace Press, 2002), 115-26.

United States Institute of Peace

The U.S.I.P. Religion and Peacemaking Initiative, directed by David Smock, helps build the capacity of faith-based and interfaith organizations as peacemakers in zones of conflict.

World Conference of Religions for Peace

The World Conference of Religions for Peace, was founded in 1970 in Kyoto. The Eighth World Assembly, which is held every five years, was held in Kyoto, August 26-29, 2006. The Moderator of the Conference is H.R.H. Prince El Hassan bin Talal of Jordan. See the website for the International Secretariat, World Council (Governing Board), and International Trustees. For comparative analysis of this organization see “Religious Intervention: The ‘Outsider-Neutral’ Parties,” in Bole, William, Christiansen, Drew, S.J., and Hennemeyer, Robert T. Forgiveness in International Politics (Washington, D.C.: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2004), 141-70.

Selected Interfaith Events

The Parliament of the World Religions, first convened at the Chicago’s World Fair in 1893, was held again in 1993 in the same city. The assembly has met again in 1999 in Capetown, South Africa; 2004 in Barcelona, Spain; and in December 2009, in Melbourne, Australia.

Millennial World Peace Summit, August 28-31, 2000, at the United Nations. Although not an official meeting of the U.N., Kofi Annan opened the gathering for the first two days in the General Assembly Chamber and the last two in a hotel across the street. The meeting brought together representatives, as listed in the final declaration, of Bahá’I, Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, Indigenous Peoples, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Shinto, Sikhism, Taoism, and Zoroastrianism.

Third Inter-religious Summit, January 24, 2002, hosted by Pope John Paul II at Assisi. Leaders of world religions pledge rejection of violence. For description and attendees, see article by Luigi Sandri. The first such summit was held in 1986 and the second in 1993. 

Day of Prayer for Peace and panels by various religious leaders and scholars, Washington, D.C., sponsored by Sant’Egidio Community, Roman Catholic Diocese of Washington, and Georgetown University. For speakers, etc. click here 

Eighth World Assembly of Religions for Peace, Kyoto, August 26-29, 2006. Assemblies meet every five years.


November 2, 2009.