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July 12 'Religion-Related Violence' Workshop to Inform Sept. 11 Dialogue in NYC

July 8, 2004, New York City – A workshop on “religion-related violence” during this month’s Parliament of the World’s Religions in Barcelona, Spain, will engage leaders of the world’s vast array of faiths in a search for resources for prevention and healing – and will inform a September 11, 2004, interfaith dialogue in New York City.

The Rev. Shanta Premawardhana, Interfaith Relations Director for the National Council of Churches USA, is organizing the July 12 workshop in Barcelona.  It will draw on the experience gained by delegates from cities and countries that have experienced religion-related violence, including New York City; Madrid, Spain; Bali, Indonesia, and Manila, Philippines, among others.


“My dream is that Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus – you name it – can work together to prevent religion-related violence and to be prepared to respond together in the event of a disaster – whether it’s a hurricane, blackout or terrorist attack,” the Rev. Premawardhana said.


The workshop’s title, “Resources for Healing Following Religion-Related Violence,” intentionally steers clear of the often-used terms “religiously” or “religion-motivated violence.”  Said the Rev. Premawardhana, this is because “sometimes religion motivates violence, and sometimes it is used, even manipulated, to justify violence.  There also is violence unrelated to religion that gets religiously charged because the conflicting parties happen to be of different faiths.  We want to address all violence with a ‘religion connection.’”


Thousands of people representing the world’s broad diversity of religions, cultures and spiritual traditions are attending the 2004 Parliament, meeting July 7-13 and for which the theme is “Pathways to Peace: The Wisdom of Listening, the Power of Commitment.”  It is the fourth ever such gathering, following Cape Town, South Africa (1999), and Chicago, U.S.A. (1993 and 1893).


As many as 75 religious leaders from New York City are attending the Parliament.  The Rev. Premawardhana also took part in a pre-meeting of 400 religious leaders, which started July 5.


The Rev. Premawardhana and other Parliament delegates from New York City will use the insights gained from the July 12 workshop in a September 11, 2004, interfaith dialogue in New York City, titled "Reflections on 9/11: Religion-Related Violence and Resources for Healing from the Faith Communities.”


Scheduled for noon to 4:30 p.m. in Union Theological Seminary’s James Chapel, the dialogue is being co-sponsored by the NCC’s Interfaith Relations Commission, the Interfaith Center of New York and Union Theological Seminary.  Seating is limited; phone 212-870-2560 or e-mail for further information and to reserve.



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