MORE than 20 religious delegations have announced plans for a 1993 Parliament of World's Religions. The event will mark the centennial of the original Parliament of World's Religions, convened at Chicago's Columbian Exposition in 1893. The idea behind the centennial is to bring various faiths together to focus on how to solve community problems. Most of the world's major religions from Christianity to Buddhism will be represented as well as religions such as Bahaism and Zoroastrianism. ``We would like to make it a model in the Chicago metropolitan region of how religion can address social issues and act as a bridge between the different cultures and races in the area,'' says Bud Polk, publicity chairman for the council that is planning the parliament.
The formal announcement on Nov. 4 of the event took place at the University of Chicago. ``What we want is a global concourse of all religions.... [But] if this is just going to be the old-style religion, then the global concourse won't make much sense,'' said keynote speaker Paulos Mar Gregorios, the Bishop of the Delhi, India, Syrian Orthodox Church and president of the World Council of Churches for Asia.
Religion in the past has too often caused wars and sided with oppressors rather than the oppressed, which has led to the rise of secular humanism in the West, he said. ``We don't need to fight secularism. We need to learn from it.'' The current parliament differs from the 1893 event. Then, most Americans had never seen a Buddhist or a Muslim, and delegations of the various religions had to travel to Chicago from India, Japan, the Middle East, Europe, and Africa. Now, representatives of those religions already live in Chicago.