Interfaith in Action at Religions for Peace

By : Surinder Jain.

What is RfP

Religions for Peace (RfP) is an organization representing religious leaders of different faiths in Australia and includes Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and Bahai faith. Hindu Council of Australia has been a member, represented by its director Vijai Singhal for over a decade now.

According to RfP founder, this Interfaith forum is different from others. Apart from meetings and speeches, it tries to connect individual faith leaders together in a bond of friendship which is best manifested by leaders of different faiths become personal friends. She cited as an example of a christian member whose daughter’s wedding was attended by and blessed by Muslims, Jews and from other faiths.

RfP held a meeting on 19th November 2018 to discuss various issues.

Anti-Hate laws in NSW

High on its agenda was an anti-hate and anti-discrimination law being considered by the state of NSW. Phillip Ruddock, former Attorney General of Australia and now Mayor of Hornsby shire has held wide consultations with community and submitted a report. Ian Lacey, a lawyer explained to members that Australian constitution in 1901 has included a clause on freedom of religions which means that :

  1. Government can not establish a religion
  2. Government can not enforce a religion
  3. Government can not stop a religion and
  4. Government can not ask for a religious qualifications for a job

This, he explained, provides freedom of religion to all Australians.

Various states like Victoria and Queensland have enacted Vilification or anti-hate laws which are not working very well. He feared that NSW should not follow their path and instead enact a robust law like that in Britain which

  1. Allows people to criticize a religion but
  2. Does not allow adherents of a religion to be discriminated

He further explained that stopping people from criticizing religions can have the opposite effect of becoming a blasphemy law.  We all know how some fundamentalists regimes have enacted blasphemy laws and have used them to prosecute and impose a certain religion.

Jatayu earth centre

Robert from Vedanta society explained his recent visit to India and a “Jatayu earth centre” being established there.

Parliament of World’s Religions

Father Patrick and Rachelle Kahn who recently returned from Parliament of World’s Religions held in Toronto briefed about their impressions of the visit.  The first Parliament was held in 1893 where Swami Vivekanand had given his first now world famous address starting with “Brothers and Sisters” instead of the usual “Ladies and Gentlemen” salutation of the time.

Parliament of World’s Religions 1893 – courtesy Wikipedia

The next Parliament was held a 100 years later in 1993 and is now an annual affair. The representation was very wide spread with 7,500 people, from 80 countries, 222 religions and over 500 workshops. However, the depth of religious fervor was very shallow.

Eat Less Meat

Mr Vijai Singhal explained to everyone about Eat Less Meat project in which Hindu Council has joined with ARRCC (Australian Religious Response to Climate Change).

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Youth PoWR chooses a Hindu youth speaker

By:Vincy Jain.

A Youth Parliament of World’s Religions is being held next month. Hindu council of Australia is participating as one of the organizers.

Our youth member Vincy has been participating in its cabinet meetings and has sent the following report.

Our meeting was held at this year’s venue, the Soka Gakkai International in Olympic Park, where we had a proper site visit before commencing the meeting. Our caterers, AJs Indian restaurant catered this meeting by bringing samosas and vegetarian biryani, which everybody loved! The highlight of our meeting was Mark’s presence. Being a Youth PoWR rep in the past, he brought a lot of insight, advice and knowledge to the table to make sure this years event is fruitful. We decided on the agenda for the event, including interactive activities among the audience, and planning out how we will have the set up for the day. We also had some marketing completed, such as the group picture and video for the FB event page. “

Vincy will be speaking as the Hindu speaker in this year’s event. This year Youth PoWR will be held at SGI Australia, 3 Parkview Dr, Sydney Olympic Park from 2:00PM to 5:00PM on Sunday, 19th August.  There is free parking available at the place, however you will need to be in early before spaces run out. The venue is also a five minute walk from Sydney Olympic Park Station.

Youth Parliament of World’s religions is an annual conference for the youth and by the youth to raise and discuss issues affecting youth and is an interfaith event. It holds this event in the month of September every year. 

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