TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 1: “Unity” is the buzzword this season as we look to the third observance promoting religious cooperation: UN Interfaith Harmony Week. This new observance is hot on the heels of the Baha’i World Religion Day and the grassroots World Sabbath—both in January.
The initiative for this special week began in Jordan a few years ago, when Prince Ghazi composed a letter that he sent to leaders of various religions around the world. Prince Ghazi’s letter, entitled “A Common Word Between You and Us Love,” was signed by religious scholars, leaders and politicians. A website devoted to the letter was set up, and Prince Ghazi through Jordan’s King Abdullah II approached the UN with the idea for an interfaith week. Signs of support for Prince Ghazi’s actions range from the Vatican and the Archbishop of Canterbury—to China’s five national religious associations (check out the article on China.org).
Of course, all of these actions take place amidst troubling news events around the world. Protests rocking Tunisia and Egypt have thrown sparks into the streets of Jordan. Coptic Christians in the U.S. now are calling for solidarity through prayer with Egyptians in this dangerous period. The Chinese religious associations are controversial for their close ties to the Chinese government. Some of the news outlets reporting on this observance may be biased. Nevertheless, this fledgling effort by the United Nations is officially launched—and now can grow from year to year.
Of course, it doesn’t take the UN to forge peaceful connections. There are many ways to unite people across religious lines. This week, check out the latest story in Friendship&Faith by Mary Liepold about the power of poetry to cross spiritual divisions.