Feb 26 2017
Katherine Marshall February 26, 2017
What more can those who live by their religious beliefs do to turn dreams of peace and justice into realities? A remarkable array of interfaith organizations and initiatives share the conviction that one answer lies in forging peace and cooperation among religious communities. Their goal may be to address tensions that have specific roots in religious beliefs or practices or to show common purpose in the face of a crisis that jolts the community overall. Interfaith initiatives often seek to build on shared values to address the daily challenges of living together fairly, with the benefits and without the frictions that come with today’s plural societies.
Feb 8 2017
Katherine Marshall February 8, 2017
“There are more people in slavery today than at any time in human history.” Thus reads a declaration signed in Istanbul on February 7 by two of the world’s foremost religious leaders: Bartholomew, Archbishop of New-Rome and Patriarch of Constantinople, and Justin, Archbishop of Canterbury. They committed themselves, within the communities of both the Orthodox and Anglican churches and beyond, to educate, raise awareness, and take action to work and pray to end this “scourge against humanity.” They established a joint task force to make concrete recommendations because action was a central theme of the day.
Dec 9 2016
Katherine Marshall December 9, 2016
Corruption is a live topic today. Since 2005, international anti-corruption day has been “celebrated” on December 9, in hopes that a visible day marking the topic can raise awareness about corruption and bolster a sense that something can be done to combat and prevent it. The large biannual International Anti-Corruption Conference (IACC17) in Panama City ended on December 4, where some 1300 very diverse participants addressed a multitude of issues, from green eyeshade detail, lawyerly discourse, to lofty principles such as trust. The meeting concluded with a commitment that: “Together we will strengthen our web of anti-corruption activists. Together, the public sector, business and civil society will hold the corrupt to account. It is Time for Justice, Equity, Security, and Trust.” The activists, many part of Transparency International, come from all over the world, widely different in ideology and approach, but they share a gutsy determination to hold leaders to account.
Sep 23 2016
Katherine Marshall September 23, 2016
It was an anxious moment in world affairs: October 1986. Demonstrations and tensions marked discord around wide-ranging topics. In an initiative that was at the same time inspiring and admired and intensely controversial, Pope John Paul II invited leading religious leaders from the world’s leading religious traditions to a carefully orchestrated event in Assisi, a symbolic Christian center long linked to the message of St. Francis. The World Day of Prayer for Peace, on October 27, 1986, gathered 160 religious leaders. They spent the day together, fasting and then, individually and side by side, they prayed for peace. Thirty-two Christian religious organizations and eleven other non-Christian world religions participated.
Sep 13 2016
The Berkley Center at Georgetown University and the World Faiths Development Dialogue (WFDD) presented the findings of their two-year effort to “map” the intersections of development and religious agendas in Senegal during a visit to Dakar in August. The main event was a publication launch on August 19. Katherine Marshall, Lauren Herzog, and Wilma Mui formally launched Pleins feux sur la foi et le développement : le Sénégal, the French version of Faith and Development in Focus: Senegal. The report is part of the Religion and Development: Country-Level Mapping project supported by the Henry R. Luce Foundation. Senegal is one of four focus countries, which also include Bangladesh, Kenya, and Guatemala. The report—published in May 2016 in English and translated to French in July 2016—highlights development topics and sectors where religious factors have special significance. It offers an overview of Senegal’s religious landscape and a more in-depth analysis of the work of faith-inspired actors in selected development sectors.
Sep 5 2016
Katherine Marshall September 5, 2016
World leaders meeting in Hangzhou, China may be unaware that a few days earlier a shadow group of religious scholars met in Beijing. Their agenda was geared to the G20 and their meeting reflected a determined effort by Chinese scholars and counterparts from across the world to continue a tradition of gathering in parallel with the global encounters of national leaders.
Aug 31 2016
Katherine Marshall August 31, 2016
The great festival of Tabaski is approaching; this is the feast that commemorates, in the Islamic calendar, Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son and God’s mercy. In the city of Dakar there are rams everywhere: rams tied up individually and in flocks, nibbling on grass or garbage. Billboards promise a ram as a prize. Every family wants a ram, to be sacrificed on the day.
Aug 24 2016
Katherine Marshall August 24, 2016
The world’s second and third largest democracies by population, the United States and Indonesia, are far apart, at opposite ends of the world. They wrestle today, however, with eerily similar questions about religious difference. Religious diversity is, for both societies, a founding principle and a source of national pride. Today, however, tensions among religious communities, especially when expressed through political processes, indicate that cherished patterns of religious tolerance simply cannot be taken for granted.
Jun 18 2016
Katherine Marshall June 18, 2016
Zero hunger by 2030: that call, the echo of Sustainable Development Goal #2, was blessed by the General Assembly of the United Nations in September 2015. At the Rome headquarters of the UN World Food Programme (WFP), June 13 saw a sharp focus on the ethical and religious as well as practical dimensions of this goal. Pope Francis, in a first ever visit to WFP, echoed the call for Zero Hunger and reflected on what it involves. In parallel WFP's governors explored with WFP's leadership and an interreligious group how religious institutions and beliefs are involved in the global and local call to action to end hunger by 2030.
May 22 2016
Katherine Marshall May 22, 2016
In September 2014 a group of religious leaders and scholars met for two days in New York to address what have become significant sources of tension in various United Nations settings: family, sex, reproductive health, and women’s rights. The diverse group was drawn from different world religions, widely different cultural traditions and, unusually for such settings, genders. UNFPA (the United Nations Population Fund) organized the meeting, with Norwegian government support. Their intense discussions zeroed in on sensitive language and still more sensitive topics. Speaking frankly about sex is rarely easy but in religious settings it tends to be especially difficult. But the group valiantly tackled the issues and emerged with a moving declaration. At its heart are insistent calls for what should NOT be done “in our name”, that is, in the name of religion: