Salt Lake City (Sept 9, 2014)--The Parliament of the World’s Religions announced today that it is bringing the world’s largest and most historic interfaith gathering to Salt Lake City in October 2015, marking its return to the United States for the first time in 22 years. Approximately 10,000 attendees from 80 countries and 50 religious and spiritual traditions are expected to attend the event October 15–19.

"The Parliament is the largest summit of interfaith activists around the globe which provides listening, learning and sharing opportunities," says Imam Malik Mujahid, Chair of the Parliament Board of Trustees.  

Imam Mujahid further stated that, "At this juncture in human history when hate, fear and anger is rising in America and across the globe, it is important that faith communities rise with loving, caring relationships, even if we do not agree on some issues.”

Parliaments are known to connect local activism network leaders and religious leaders, as well as luminaries like Nobel Laureates and others which have included Nelson Mandela, HH the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, President Jimmy Carter, Nobel Peace Prize Winner Dr. Shirin Ebadi, Dr. Jane Goodall, Dr. Karen Armstrong, Rabbi David Saperstein, Dr. Hans Kung, Deepak Chopra and Amma the Hugging Saint.

The 2015 Parliament announcement featured dignitaries and friends to the podium to ring in the news. Dr. Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mohandas Gandhi and Parliament Trustee, recalling the vision of his grandfather, said, "’A friendly study,’ Gandhi believed, ‘of all the scriptures is the sacred duty of every individual.’  He made the friendly study and found that none of the religions of the world had the whole Truth. The Truth can only be realized when one has an open mind and a willingness to learn from all different religions the bits of Truth they have. This essentially is what the Parliament is encouraging on a mass scale.” 

The opportunity to host the world’s faiths in Salt Lake is a prospect Scott Beck, president and CEO of Visit Salt Lake, says he is glad to support. "The world is no stranger to Salt Lake, and we are no stranger to the world. Salt Lake has hosted various international gatherings, including the 2002 Olympic Games and Rotary International. We are excited to again welcome a national and international audience to experience what Salt Lake has to offer, both physically and spiritually," said Beck.

"Here, Parliament attendees will find a welcoming and religiously diverse community. And they may just feel a little bit at home as they explore a region where more than 100 languages are spoken in our schools and businesses." 

Representatives of several global interfaith initiatives gathered today in Salt Lake City also to hear leaders of the Charter for Compassion and the United Religions Initiative voice their partnership to the upcoming summit. 

Andrew Himes, The Charter for Compassion’s executive director, explained how the “The Charter for Compassion, a vision of Karen Armstrong when she accepted the TED Prize in 2008, has today inspired a global compassion movement aimed at focusing the world’s attention on how to bring the principle of the Golden Rule to life in concrete, practical, measurable ways in our communities, institutions and relationships worldwide. A central thought motivating the Charter from the beginning was that communities of faith can play a significant leadership role in creating a thriving, sustainable, peaceful world. Today, we join with our friends and partners in the Parliament of the World’s Religions in calling for a gathering of people from many different religions to declare that compassion is at the center of our common dream for a world of peace and justice.”

Attending a Parliament is a life-changing event according to past attendee and United Religions Initiative chair of the North American Region, Sande Hart. Envisioning the 2015 Parliament summit, Hart drew upon the shared values linking those in the interfaith community, stating, "Today, more than ever, it is critical that we know one another and come together, united shoulder to shoulder to heal all that threatens justice, our homes, our communities, our countries, Earth and all living beings.” 

The Chicago-based Parliament, an international non-sectarian organization, traces its roots to the 1893 World’s Fair and the birth of the global interfaith movement. The Parliament’s mission is to cultivate harmony among the world’s religious and faith communities and to foster their engagement with guiding institutions for a more peaceful, just and sustainable world.