United Religions: Historical Fantasy, globalist delusion, religious relativism

By Lee Penn


This story shows that the United Religions Initiative is based on an unrealistic view of history, promotes the idea that all religions are equivalent as means of salvation, and promotes the idea that the purpose of religion is to foster social progress and to assist in creation of a worldly Utopia - in the form desired by liberals and leftists from the US and Western Europe. To make this argument, the story quotes the writings and speeches of Bishop Swing, other URI staff, and prominent URI supporters.

Conditions of use:

This story is an extract from a book-length manuscript by me titled "False Dawn, Real Darkness: the Millennial Delusions of the United Religions and the New Age Movement." You may re-distribute this story by hard copy or electronically, and you may abridge or quote from this story - IF you give credit to Lee Penn as the author, and IF you include - in the body or as a footnote - the following statement:

"An earlier, abridged version of this story appeared as part of "The United Religions Initiative: Foundations for a World Religion" (Part 1), published in May 1999 by the Journal of the Spiritual Counterfeits Project, Vol. 22:4-23:1. The information in this extract is a small portion of the information printed in the SCP Journal. You may order the complete story from the Journal, or subscribe to the Journal, by calling (510) 540-0300, or by writing to the Spiritual Counterfeits Project, Post Office Box 4308, Berkeley, CA 94704, or by visiting the SCP web site, http://www.scp-inc.org/."


Fanciful view of history

Bill Rankin, Vice President of Development for the URI, noted that there have been "over 250 wars in this century, with nearly 110 millions killed as a result. ... Religious differences have caused or aggravated much of this."(828) This is a strange reading of the century's history. World War I arose from the competing imperial and economic ambitions of the Great Powers, not a conflict between religions. The Allies included Catholic France and Italy, Orthodox Russia, and Protestant Britain and the US. Their enemies, the Central Powers, included Protestant-dominated Germany, Catholic Austria, Islamic Turkey, and Orthodox Bulgaria. The Nazi state was based on idolatry of race, nation, and the Führer - not any form of religious orthodoxy. The Communist dictatorships have attempted to eradicate Judaism, Christianity, and Islam alike. It's hard to see how a United Religions could have prevented or mitigated wars due to imperial ambition (World War I), due to militant atheism (wars and atrocities caused by Communists), or due to revived paganism and aggressive nationalism (World War II and the Holocaust).

Rankin also provides a novel "context" for persecution of Christians by the Islamic government of Sudan: "In North Sudan the government, in some measure, is forced into strong Muslim identity by the history of overthrows when a more tolerant attitude was promulgated."(829) ...

Bishop Swing also engages in some historical fancy. He says, "The United Religions will not be a rejection of ancient religion but will be found buried in the depths of these religions."(830) Can Bishop Swing prove this from the depths of the Christian Faith - from Scripture and from the teachings of the Church Fathers and the Ecumenical Councils? If, indeed, United Religions were to be found "buried in the depths" of the Christian Faith, countless early martyrs could have avoided agonizing deaths by burning incense in front of the statue of the Roman Emperor, and today's martyrs in Sudan and China could apostatize with a calm conscience. Maybe martyrs are passé, anyhow; Rankin says that "The United Religions Initiative exists to bring people together from all the religions of the world, to create a world where no one has to die because of God, or for God, any more."(831)

Religious relativism

URI leaders: "One can get to God by many ways"

In a July 1998 interview with a journalist from the official newspaper for the Lambeth conference (a once-a-decade worldwide gathering of Anglican bishops), Bishop Swing equated the revelations offered by the different religions of the world. He said, "The question is can we stand the generosity of God in that he reveals himself to other people in the world through other symbols and through other stories?"(832) This formula reduces the historical events of the Incarnation, the Crucifixion, and the Resurrection of Christ to the level of "symbols" and "stories," allowing Bishop Swing to equate non-Christian myths to the saving, historical acts of Christ's ministry.

Bishop Swing has held such views for several years. In 1996, Bishop Swing finished a story about his global pilgrimage in early 1996 with this backhanded expression of faith in Christ:

"I do believe that one can get to God by many ways. Nevertheless, when one gets to God, I believe that nothing about the Divine is contradicted by Jesus Christ."(833)

In a speech to the San Francisco Deanery on September 11, 1996, Bishop Swing said,

"We don't bring Christ to the world; Christ created the world. We [Christians] come with a community and a vocabulary."(834)

So, Christians do not "make disciples of all nations" (Mt. 28:19), we offer "a community and a vocabulary" testifying to one of the "many ways" to get to God. In this case, why bother attending Sunday services or making offerings to a church? Since the 1960s, hundreds of thousands of members of liberal Protestant denominations have asked themselves this question, and answered it by leaving.

Regarding comparative religions, URI board member Rita Semel says:

"Learning about other people's faith is not a detriment to living your own, but an enhancement. ... The good part of any one of the faiths are replicated in the others; it's only the bad that we seem to be able to do all by ourselves. ... In every faith in the world that I know of, there is some version of the Golden Rule. ... If we could live by the Golden Rule, then the rest is commentary."(835)

There are three good things in the Christian faith that are not part of other faiths: God becoming one of us, this God-Man dying on our behalf to redeem us from our sins, and this same God-Man rising from the dead, and promising the same for us. Semel's statement "if we could live the Golden Rule" points to the fact that we don't; that's why we need a Savior.

In 1947, the Theosophist author Alice Bailey said, "the study of Comparative Religion has demonstrated that the foundational truths in every faith are identical."(836) She thus foreshadowed Semel's statement that "the good part of any one of the faiths are replicated in the others."

In the summer 1997 issue of the URI Journal, Roger Corless, Professor of Buddhist Studies at Duke University, wrote:

"the detailed and sympathetic study of religions, a discipline that is not much more than a hundred years old, has uncovered not a universe but a polyverse, in which there exists a plurality of Absolutes. ... It seriously challenges the paradigm, in which western philosophy has comfortably existed since the time of the pre-Socratics, that when we say Absolute we mean One and indeed, Unique. We cannot, we think, have more than one Absolute. Plurality implies Relativism, we are sure. But, it seems, the facts do not bear us out."(837)

And so much for logic, for reason, and for the First Commandment.

Regarding "Comparative Religion" and "the detailed and sympathetic study of religions," Catholic philosopher Peter Kreeft says, "The only verifiable result of the study of 'comparative religions' has been, as Ronald Knox quipped, that it makes you comparatively religious."(838)

A Christian reply: Christ is the One Mediator

In 1997, Cardinal Ratzinger appealed to history to dispose of the notion that all religions are equal: "In a word, even the gods are not all alike; there are decidedly negative divine figures, whether we think of the Greek or, for example, the Indian religious cosmos. The idea that all religions are equal is already disproved by the simple fact of the history of religion."(839)

Against the false teachings of the relativists, Pope John Paul II reminds us of the teaching from the Bible:

"Christ, the Redeemer of the world, is the one mediator between God and men, and there is no other name under heaven by which we can be saved (cf. Acts 4:12)."(840)

Pope John Paul II is repeating a warning that Pope John XXIII had given in 1959:

"To reckon that there is no difference between contraries and opposites has surely this ruinous result, that there is no readiness to accept any religion either in theory or in practice. For how can God, who is Truth, approve or tolerate the heedlessness, neglect, and indolence of those who, when it is a question of matters affecting the salvation of us all, give no attention at all to the search for and the grasp of the essential truth, nor indeed to paying the lawful worship due to God alone?"(841)

This-worldly, utilitarian view of religion

Bishop Swing

The eighth problem is that URI leaders have a this-worldly view of religion. In justifying the URI, Bishop Swing said in 1998 that "global good and global harmony" is the ultimate concern of religion:

"There is going to come a time when the world is just going to insist that religions grow up and begin to talk to each other for the sake of global good and global harmony."(842)

Bishop Swing is restating a utilitarian, worldly view of religion that he has held for years. In his opening speech to the 1996 URI global summit meeting, he had said:

"The quickest recognition for the creation of a United Religions came from ambassadors and diplomats. Also politicians, economists, scientists (especially ecologists) were most supportive. ... The most basic issue is whether or not a religion believes that the world holds together in an ultimate unity. ... The sooner we can get religions to come together to serve the common good, the sooner global issues will have a chance for solution."(843)

Charles Gibbs, URI Executive Director

The Rev. Charles Gibbs, Executive Director of the URI, said in 1997 that one of the reasons why the current attempt to form a United Religions would work - although previous efforts had failed - was secular leaders' desire for spiritual guidance in developing a "global civilization":

"There is increasingly a realization all around the world, not only among religious leaders but among politicians and scientists and business leaders, that if there is not a firm foundation in values, that if there isn't a deep spirituality that informs the choices we make and how we move into a global civilization, our time on earth may well be limited. We can't afford to continue to live the way we have been. All over you hear a call for religion and for deep spiritual values to join this dialogue."(844)

Gibbs did not define the nature of the "spirituality" that will "inform our choices" as our leaders build the "global civilization".

Robert Muller

In "Preparing for the Next Millennium," Robert Muller said:

"The new age we are entering will be an age of communities and cooperation: it will be an age of family (celebrated by the UN in 1994), and of the family of nations. The family of religions cannot be absent; its absence could mean the retrocession and evanescence of religions, left behind by rapidly growing political, economic, scientific, ecological, and social globalizations [sic] of the world."(845)

In short: religions must globalize, or they will evanesce - which means, "to dissipate like vapor." This might be a gradual and peaceful disappearance, or it might be violent suppression of recalcitrant religions, as occurred during the French Revolution:

"Look at all the religious wars we had during the Middle Ages. Killing in the name of God was the rule. Religion was discredited to the point that the French Revolution abolished religions as troublemakers. Even today, many regard religions as troublemakers. This is why the common values between all religions should be expressed. They should cooperate in order to work on common values such as faith, prayer, compassion, charity, forgiveness, etc. With the Cold War over and the opposition to religion and spirituality ended in the former communist countries of Eastern Europe, we can move, we must move, to a global renaissance, to a global spirituality."(846)

Here, Muller poses two alternatives for the future of religions: being abolished as "troublemakers," or movement toward a new "global spirituality."

Bettina Gray

Bettina Gray, of the North American Interfaith Network, issued a similar warning to religions during the January 19, 1997 URI forum at Grace Cathedral:

"Religion is standing before the bar of human need. ... Society at large is looking at religion and saying, 'What are you doing, and why are you creating more difficulties and more antagonisms?' ... The hope for spirituality to continue and thrive on the planet is based on our willingness as religious people to find what we can do together, to find what we can [do to] cooperate with the world and for the world together."(847)

If "spirituality is to continue and thrive on this planet" we must "cooperate with the world."

Bishop Ottley: "the world's agenda is the agenda of the Church"

Anglican Bishop James Ottley, a URI supporter, said in 1997 that:

"Increasingly, the agenda of the world is shaped by global political, economic, environmental, and social forces. Because the world's agenda is the agenda of the church, we can no longer consider ourselves to be living in isolation from one another." (848)

That's a central fallacy of the United Religions movement, the view that "the world's agenda is the agenda of the church." The goal of the URI is not to serve and glorify God, but to serve "global good and global harmony" by solving global issues. A religious initiative funded by non-religious interests will attempt to observe its version of Jesus' second commandment, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Mt. 22:39), while forgetting Jesus' "great and the first commandment," "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind." (Mt. 22:37-38).

The cause of the problem: a worldly definition of "religion"

The core of the problem may be the way that URI leaders define "religion," a definition different from the one that most people - of any faith - would use. URI Vice President William Rankin said, "J. M. Yinger defines religion as 'a system of beliefs and practices by means of which a group of people struggles with ultimate problems of human life. It expresses their refusal to capitulate to death, to give up in the face of frustration, to allow hostility to tear apart their human aspirations.' So far, so good."(849) After saying "so far, so good," Rankin did not progress to a God-centered definition of religion; he accepted the proposed humanistic definition without change. Yinger's (and Rankin's) definition reduces religion to psychology and social action. By contrast, Webster's Dictionary defines religion as "the service and worship of God or the supernatural; commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance."(850)

Utopian globalism

URI utopians: Bishop Swing, Barbara Marx Hubbard, and others

Bishop Swing uses the lust for earthly utopia to sell the notion of United Religions. Bishop Swing told the June, 1996 URI summit conference that he proposes to "expand the thinking patterns of religions" and to bring forth "an entire new life for the world" after a "long march":

"I marvel that I am standing here talking about something that has never happened in the world and almost everyone who has had access to my ears has told me will never happen. ... Today indeed is a special moment. Credulity trembles. And delirious hope gasps for a first breath. An entire new life for the world beckons us to step ahead."(851)

"We want to enlist your imagination to become pioneers on a spiritual quest to serve all of God's creation beginning with religions and ending with religions. ... To attempt to expand the thinking patterns of religions is a daunting task of highest challenge. ... Today is the first day of a long march toward coalition binding around the vision."(852)

The "spiritual quest" is to "serve all of God's creation," not to serve God. In the letter that formally invited delegates to the summer 1997 summit conference, Bishop Swing wrote that United Religions would be "a deep new source of hope and healing for people and the earth itself."(853) It would be hard to define a larger earthly dream for a human enterprise. The URI has not extended its mission to the planets and to the stars - yet.

URI fundraising letters also make high-flown appeals to "turn the impossible into the improbable into the inevitable":

"We are embarked on a mission to do something unprecedented in human history. We are at the foot of one of the tallest mountains in the world with little experience scaling these peaks. But our resolve to turn the impossible into the improbable into the inevitable grows each day, and so do we all. Please join us in this initiative."(854)

Barbara Marx Hubbard has a similar vision of an earthly utopia:

"In the past our glorious visions of the future - heaven, paradise, nirvana - were thought to happen after death. The newer thought is that we do not have to die to get there! We are not speaking here of life after death in some mythical heaven, but life more abundant in real time in history. We are speaking of the next stage of our social evolution."(855)

Bishop Swing and other URI supporters also make use of the current millennial fever. He closed a September 1996 speech to a conference of San Francisco Episcopalian leaders by saying, "All kinds of spiritual things will break loose in 2000,"(856) presumably including the signing of the Charter for the United Religions. In October 1996, Bishop Swing told the annual Diocesan convention:

"I can see the year 2000 coming with soulful urgency, the world on the verge of the first global civilization, spiritual refugees wandering the earth seeking a symbol of hope. I do believe that at the bottom of religions there is a treasure chest of hope which the world yearns for. ... I can see the day of a United Religions."(857)

The Rev. James Davis, of the Wittenberg Center, who attended the URI conference held in New York City in the spring of 1997, said,

"Part of the impetus [for the URI] was the interest in the millennium, the changes predicted by so many denominations for the year 2000."(858)

Davis referred to "so many denominations" that are predicting changes by the year 2000. However, such a viewpoint is uncommon in any of the mainstream Christian denominations. Perhaps Davis was instead referring to millennial and New Age cults. Stephen Fuqua, an activist with the United Communities of Spirit, who attended the 1997 URI summit conference, vowed to ensure that "something Big" does indeed happen in 2000:

"The millennial fever is upon us once again. Religion after religion after religion think that something Big is going to happen. Shall it? So many doubt - but their doubt is unfounded. For we are here to insure [sic] that something Big does happen."(859)

Traditional Jewish and Christian realism: the antidote to utopian delusion

Jewish and Christian teachers warn us against such attempts to build heaven on earth with our own hands. In a note of wisdom that is rare in URI documents, Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg, Vice President Emeritus of the World Jewish Congress, warned against utopianism:

"I warn against the delusion that we can make a shining heaven on earth. That can happen only at the end of days, when God wills it."(860)

The Catechism of the Catholic Church likewise warns against globalism:

"After the unity of the human race was shattered by sin God at once sought to save humanity part by part. The covenant with Noah after the flood gives expression to the principle of the divine economy toward the 'nations,' in other words, towards men grouped 'in their lands, each with [its] own language, by their families, in their nations.' This state of division into many nations is at once cosmic, social, and religious. It is intended to limit the pride of fallen humanity, united only in its perverse ambition to forge its own unity as at Babel."(861)

The only time that the world should be unified is when Christ returns to reign in glory. No organization and no person other than the Son of Man can be trusted with the title or position of world ruler.

The Catechism also speaks against all forms of earthly millennialism:

"Ignorance of the fact that man has a wounded nature inclined to evil gives rise to serious errors in the areas of education, politics, social action, and morals."(862)

"Before Christ's second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers. The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth will unveil the 'mystery of iniquity' in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in the place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh. The Antichrist's deception already begins to take shape in the world every time the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can be only realized beyond history through the eschatological judgment. The Church has rejected even modified forms of this falsification of the kingdom to come under the name of millenarianism, especially the 'intrinsically perverse' political form of a secular messianism."(863)

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen summarizes these warnings:

"We do know that at the end of time, when the great conflict between the forces of good and evil takes place, Satan will appear without the Cross, as the Great Philanthropist and Social Reformer to become the final temptation of mankind."(864)

The Eastern Orthodox repeat these admonitions. Bishop Kallistos Ware writes:

"Scripture and Holy Tradition speak to us repeatedly about the Second Coming. They give us no grounds for supposing that, through a steady advance in 'civilization,' the world will grow gradually better and better until mankind succeeds in establishing God's kingdom on earth. The Christian view of world history is entirely opposed to this kind of evolutionary optimism. What we are taught to expect are disasters in the world of nature, increasingly destructive warfare between men, bewilderment and apostasy among those who call themselves Christians (see especially Matt. 24:3-27). This period of tribulation will culminate with the appearance of the 'man of sin' (2 Thess. 2:3-4), or Antichrist, who, according to the interpretation traditional in the Orthodox Church, will not be Satan himself, but a human being, a genuine man, in whom all the forces of evil will be concentrated and who will for a time hold the entire world in his sway. The brief reign of Antichrist will be abruptly terminated by the Second Coming of the Lord, this time not in a hidden way, as at his birth in Bethlehem, but 'sitting on the right hand of power, and drawing near upon the clouds of heaven' (Matt. 26:64). So the course of history will be brought to a sudden and dramatic end, through a direct intervention from the divine realm."(865)

All should heed such warnings, even if the Parousia is 10,000 years in the future. These sobering teachings apply to all times and places until the Second Coming of Christ. Catholic evangelist Frank Sheed explains:

"But if Anti-Christ is to be a real person and the Apostasy a real Apostasy coming at the end of the world, both Anti-Christ and Apostasy have their forerunners in every age of the world. For the truth is that just as every death is the end of the world in miniature, so every age is the last age in miniature. In that sense we are all in the last age. Anti-Christ is to come; but we have heard St. Paul say that 'the conspiracy of revolt is already at work'." (866)

The political agenda of the URI

URI leaders and supporters speak from both sides of their mouth when discussing the political role of the URI. On the one hand, Bishop Swing said, "It would not be in the interest of the whole earth for a United Religions to become a political debating society with a right-wing or left-wing bias."(867) Ravi Peruman, a member of the URI Board, said of the URI, "It's not an attempt to be political."(868)

However, when asked in early 1997, "Is the United Religions intended to be a political movement? Will it be working with political leaders to help resolve conflict?" URI Executive Director Charles Gibbs replied, "I can't see how it would not be. ... Ideally, a well-established United Religions and the values it would embody would have a powerful impact on the work politicians do."(869) At the 1996 summit conference, Richard Barrett, from the World Bank, said, "It is important for the religions of the world to unite in order to have a unified voice of values which can be taken to the negotiating table in the major international organizations we have."(870) Fr. Gibbs reported that one of Barrett's requests was fulfilled at a May, 1997 URI conference in New York City; participants decided "to plan a gathering at the UN to explore the role the UR might have in advising and supporting global organizations such as the World Bank and the IMF [International Monetary Fund]."(871) The URI draft charter proposes that the URI will "unite to be a voice of shared values in the international arenas of politics, economics and the media, and to serve as a forum for research and excellence on values in action."(872)

Thus, if the United Religions attains its goals, it will pursue a new, global symbiosis between politics and religion. Most URI proponents and allies see the world's religions as means to earthly ends: peace, social justice, and preservation of the biosphere. Their view of how to attain these ends is specific and partisan; their articles and speeches correspond to the platforms of socialist parties in Europe, the environmental movement, the feminist movement, and the liberal wing of the Democratic Party. There's a problem here; most of humanity does not hold these beliefs. By what means will the URI and their allies obtain the acquiescence of the rest of us?



NOTE: Internet document citations are based on research done between September 1997 and August 1999. Web citations are accurate as of the time the Web page was printed, but some documents may have been moved to a different Web site since then, or they may have been removed entirely from the Web.

828 Bill Rankin, "URI Fundraising - What is Our Role," URI News Update, fall 1998, p. 2

829 The Center for Progressive Christianity, "President's Report, February 1999," section on the United Religions Initiative by William Rankin, Internet document, http://www.tcpc.org/newsFeb99.html, p. 7

830 Bishop William Swing, The Coming United Religions, United Religions Initiative and CoNexus Press, 1998, ISBN 0-9637897-5-9; p. 64

831 The Center for Progressive Christianity, "President's Report, February 1999," section on the United Religions Initiative by William Rankin, Internet document, http://www.tcpc.org/newsFeb99.html, p. 8

832 Carol Barnwell, " 'United Religions' is Bishop Swing's goal," The Lambeth Daily, Issue 4, 22 July 1998; Internet document, http://anglican.org/online/Lambeth-Daily/22/UR.html, p. 1

833 Bishop William Swing, "Magellan Was Headed In The Right Direction," Pacific Church News, June/July 1996, p. 12

834 From notes taken by Lee Penn of the speech given by Bishop Swing at the 9/11/96 meeting of the San Francisco Deanery for the Episcopal Diocese of California

835 Transcribed by Lee Penn from URI-provided tape of URI forum at Grace Cathedral, held on 2/2/97

836 Alice A. Bailey, Problems of Humanity, Lucis Publishing Company, New York, 1st ed. 1947; rev. ed. 1964, p. 156

837 Roger Corless, "A Plurality of Absolutes," Journal of the United Religions Initiative, issue 3, Summer 1997, p. 8

838 Peter Kreeft, Ecumenical Jihad: Ecumenism and the Culture War, Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 1996, ISBN 0-89870-597-7, pp. 23-24

839 Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Salt of the Earth: Christianity and the Catholic Church at the End of the Millennium - An Interview with Peter Seewald, translated by Adrian Walker, Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 1997, ISBN 0-89870-640-8; p. 23

840 Pope John Paul II, Tertio Millennio Adveniente: Apostolic Letter to the Bishops, Clergy, and Lay Faithful On Preparation for the Jubilee of the Year 2000, Vatican translation, Pauline Books and Media, 1994, ISBN 0-8198-7381-0, section 4, p. 10

841 Pope John XXIII, encyclical letter Ad Petri Cathedram, as quoted in James J. Drummey, Catholic Replies, C. R. Publications, 1995, ISBN 0-9649087-0-0; pp. 89-90

842 Baxter and Sax, (first names not stated), "Exclusive Interview: Bishop William Swing, Head of the United Religions Organization," Endtime, July/August 1998, Internet document, http://www.endtime.com/bishop.htm, p. 11

843 Bishop William Swing, opening speech for the United Religions summit meeting, June 24-28, 1996, pp. 3, 5

844 Kristen Fairchild, "If a United Nations, Why Not a United Religions: An Interview With Charles Gibbs," The Spire, February 1997, http://www.gracecom.org/thespire/textures/gibbs1.html, p. 5

845 Robert Muller, "Foreword: Preparing for the Next Millennium," in Joel Beversluis, ed., on-line version of A Source Book for the Earth's Community of Religions, Internet document, http://www.silcom.com/~origin/sbcr/sbcr012, p. 4

846 Robert Muller and Douglas Roche, Safe Passage into the Twenty-First Century: The United Nations' Quest for Peace, Equality, Justice, and Development, Continuum (A Global Education Associates Book), New York, 1995, ISBN 0-8264-0866-4, p. 28

847 Transcribed by Lee Penn from URI-provided tape of the January 19, 1997 URI forum at Grace Cathedral

848 Anglican Communion Office at the United Nations, "Annual Report 1997," Internet document, http://www.aco.org/united-nations/annual97.htm, p. 2

849 The Center for Progressive Christianity, "President's Report, February 1999," section on the United Religions Initiative by William Rankin, Internet document, http://www.tcpc.org/newsFeb99.html, p. 6

850 Webster's Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam Company, 1970

851 Bishop William Swing, opening speech for the United Religions summit meeting, June 24-28, 1996, p. 1

852 Bishop William Swing, opening speech for the United Religions summit meeting, June 24-28, 1996, p. 4

853 Bishop William Swing, "Invitation Letter," Journal of the United Religions Initiative, issue 3, Summer 1997, p. 3

854 "Unprecedented, So Let's Do It," URI News Update, Spring 1998, p. 2

855 Barbara Marx Hubbard, Conscious Evolution: Awakening the Power of Our Social Potential, New World Library, Novato, California, 1998, ISBN 1-57731-016-0, p. 18

856 From notes taken by Lee Penn of the speech given by Bishop Swing at the 9/11/96 meeting of the San Francisco Deanery for the Episcopal Diocese of California

857 Bishop William Swing, "Diocesan Convention Address," October 19, 1996, p. 12

858 The Rev. James Davis (Wittenberg Center for Alternative Resources), telephone interview by Lee Penn, 12/10/97

859 United Communities of Spirit, "Voices of the Light: Full to Overflowing," vol. 11, Internet document, http://www.silcom.com/~origin/vol/vol011.txt, p. 2

860 Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg, "The Sins of Religion," Journal of the United Religions Initiative, issue 3, Summer 1997, p. 8; see also, http://www.worldforum.org/1996forum/init_religion.html, p. 6

861 Catechism Of The Catholic Church, Image Books/Doubleday edition, 1995, ISBN 0-385-47967-0, sections 56-57, p. 25; incorporates 1997 Vatican modifications to the official text of the Catechism ("Modifications from the Editio Typica," Libreria Editrice Vaticana/United States Catholic Conference, ISBN 1-57455-166-3, 1998, p. 3)

862 Catechism Of The Catholic Church, Image Books/Doubleday edition, 1995, ISBN 0-385-47967-0, section 407, p. 115

863 Catechism Of The Catholic Church, Image Books/Doubleday edition, 1995, ISBN 0-385-47967-0, sections 675-676, pp. 193-194

864 Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, Life of Christ, Image Books, 1977, ISBN 0-385-13220-4, p. 10

865 Bishop Kallistos Ware, The Orthodox Way, St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1979, ISBN 0-913836-58-3, pp. 179-180

866 Frank J. Sheed, Theology and Sanity, Ignatius Press, 1993, ISBN 0-89870-470-7, p. 353

867 Bishop William Swing, "The United Religions Initiative," document issued in April 1996 by the URI; p. 1

868 Transcribed by Lee Penn from URI-provided tape of January 19, 1997 URI forum at Grace Cathedral

869 Kristen Fairchild, "If a United Nations, Why Not a United Religions: An Interview With Charles Gibbs," The Spire, February 1997, http://www.gracecom.org/thespire/textures/gibbs1.html, p. 6

870 Daniel Sneider, "United Nations of Clerics?: Religious Leaders Envision 'Spiritual UN'," Christian Science Monitor, July 18, 1996, p. 3

871 Charles Gibbs, "Regional Conferences Prepare for URI Global Summit," Pacific Church News, August/September 1997, p. 23

872 United Religions Initiative, "Benchmark Draft Charter," Internet document, http://www.united-religions.org/charter/index.shtml; Draft Preamble, paragraphs 9 and 10, p. 3


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