1999: A Year of Growth for the United Religions Initiative (URI)

By Lee Penn

Summary:

This story covers the activities worldwide of the United Religions Initiative (URI) in 1999, describes its leadership and its sources of funds, and comments on the ways that the United Religions has changed from the vision that its founders had in 1995.

Since this story was written, there are reports from those who attended Bishop Swing's URI meeting in Pittsburgh that the URI has received a grant of about $1.7 million from a Pittsburgh-area foundation - so that the financial squeeze mentioned in this story may be over.

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 abridged version of this information is appearing in the series of articles "The United Religions Initiative: Foundations for a World Religion" (Part 1 and Part 2). The first article was published in the spring of 1999, and the second part is being published in the fall of 1999 by the Journal of the Spiritual Counterfeits Project. You may order the complete stories 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/."

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The United Religions Initiative (URI) and its goals may all sound like just a fond liberal dream, but the URI is gaining worldwide support, prominent staff, and funding from powerful people and foundations. Nevertheless, the movement also shows some signs of stagnation - a Board dominated by leaders from the San Francisco Bay Area, a funding crisis, and limited media coverage.

Worldwide URI activity since the June 1998 summit conference

URI organizers are promoting the global cease fire and circulating the Charter in Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Great Britain, Brazil, Los Angeles, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, India, Washington DC, (106) and Sudan.(107) In the San Francisco Bay Area, URI staff cooperate with the local World Affairs Council and the Resource Center for the United Nations.(108) Meanwhile, many liberal Christian, interfaith, and New Age web sites have established links to the URI web site, accepting the URI as a colleague and as a resource. Some of the more prominent web sites with URI links include the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the North American Coalition for Christianity and Ecology, the Graduate Theological Union, and the Anglican Diocese of Ottawa.(109) The URI claims credit for plans by the Pakistan "Catholic Bishops National Commission for Christian-Muslim Relations" to organize a "March for Peace from Khyber to Karachi." (110)

In the winter and spring of 1999, local URI groups were active in New York City, London, Addis Ababa, San Francisco, Seattle, Santa Cruz (California), Houston, Washington DC, Oxford, Los Angeles,(111) Manila, Brazil, Lahore (Pakistan), (112) Malawi, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, San Jose (California),(113) and North Carolina.(114) Jinwol Lee, a Buddhist monk from South Korea, said that there are 50 members from six faiths in the South Korean URI chapter, which had been established one month previously, in May 1999. (115) According to the Executive Director of the URI, there were 30 such local URI "cooperation circles" by June 1999.(116)

The URI claims substantial strength in eastern and southern Africa. "In Zimbabwe, the Ecumenical Documentation and Information Center for Eastern and Southern Africa (EDICESA) agreed to help coordinate the work of the URI from their offices in Harare." (117) Katende Abdu, the deputy coordinator for URI-Uganda, said that there are 30,000 Christian and Muslim members of the URI in Uganda as of mid-1999. (118)

The URI said that "Mac Kiiru, the East Africa Coordinator, Kelvin Sauls, URI Board Member, Godwin Hlatshwayo, African coordinator, and Andre Porto, URI Brazilian coordinator, participated in WCC [World Council of Churches] forums," and that "the URI Draft Charter and the 72 Hours of Peace building [sic] stirred enthusiasm and interest" among those who attended the WCC meeting in December, 1998. (119) However, Faith McDonnell, of the Institute for Religion and Democracy, a conservative organization that attended and reported on the 1998 WCC meeting, said that URI presence and influence at the meeting did not extend beyond the small discussion group attended by URI representatives.(120)

Meanwhile, Bishop Swing continued his worldwide junkets to advance the cause of the URI. He has spoken in several cities in the US - including Salt Lake City (regarding possible URI involvement in the 2002 Olympics opening ceremonies) and Washington DC (before the Congressional Human Rights Caucus).(121)

Bishop Swing also "spoke in Shanghai, Kyoto, Bucharest and London, and presented a paper at the European Commission in Brussels." (122) (Why would the URI be of interest to the European Union?) Speaking in London to the World Congress of Faiths, Bishop Swing said that "the Dalai Lama would bring ten religious leaders together in November [1998] to examine the proposed UR's purpose and principles."(123) As of mid-1999, the Dalai Lama remains a firm supporter of the URI (124) - as he has been since Bishop Swing presented the idea to him in 1996.

Bishop Swing, Richard Blum, and the Dalai Lama: the Inter-Religious Friendship Group

As a parallel effort with the URI, Bishop Swing has formed the "Inter-Religious Friendship Group" (IRFG). Other leaders of this group are the Dalai Lama and Richard Blum, a wealthy Bay Area businessman and philanthropist - and the husband of Dianne Feinstein, a Democratic member of the U.S. Senate from California.(125) Blum has supported the URI since early 1996.(126) Additionally, according to the San Francisco Examiner,

"Blum has been a close associate of the Dalai Lama's for more than two decades, and has traveled extensively with the Tibetan leader, particularly to meetings with major world religious figures. Swing and Blum joined forces in 1998. The Friendship Group is designed as a loosely knit organization of more than a dozen spiritual leaders, theologians and lay activists from around the world. Participants range from Dr. Sudath Devapura, president of the All Ceylon Buddhist Congress of Sri Lanka, to Blu Greenberg, a prominent American Jewish feminist theologian." (127)

The founders of the IRFG say that their goal is to "create a confidential and relatively unstructured forum where the leaders of the world's religions can have regular conversations with one another." (128) The IRFG "hopes to involve representatives from many major religions to meet several times per year and to promote tolerance and understanding by working on social problems of mutual concern. Over the next year, the group's leadership will be expanded to include members of the Eastern Orthodox churches along with others." (129)

The IRFG - including Bishop Swing, Richard Blum, and the Dalai Lama - held its initial meeting in November of 1998. (130) For 3 days in mid-June 1999, the IRFG held its second meeting in Jerusalem. (131) Bishop Swing said, "We want to make sure that Jerusalem is seen in the largest context - not only as a major center for three religions, but also as a force in the global interfaith conversation that is emerging." (132) The Jerusalem meeting was planned to "draw together dozens of participants from around the world, including Shintoists and Hindus from Asia; Christians, Jews and Muslims from the Middle East; and European and American religious delegations." (133) At the conference, the Dalai Lama said, "a variety of religions were needed to help different peoples heal."(134) President Carter will be the host for the next meeting of the IRFG, in November 1999 at the Carter Center for World Peace in Atlanta, Georgia.(135)

The 1999 URI global summit meeting: a smaller crowd

The URI held its "Fourth Global Summit" at Stanford University from June 20 through 25, 1999. About one hundred delegates attended the conference - half the number that had attended in 1997 and 1998.(136) Delegates came from 26 countries; all inhabited continents except Australia were represented.(137) A URI publicist said of the convention, "As in 1997 and 1998, this gathering is a visibly, audibly multiethnic, interreligious global microcosm. From the Covenant of the Goddess to Catholicism, from Jainism to Judaism, we come from the grassroots, from faith families sharing the dream of an interfaith world at peace."(138) (The Covenant of the Goddess says that it "was founded in 1975 to increase cooperation among Witches and to secure for Witches and covens the legal protections enjoyed by members of other religions.")(139) However, there were no delegates from Israel, the Muslim countries in the Middle East, or North Africa. (140)

The agenda for the meeting included preparing for the 72-hour cease-fire, revising the draft URI charter, and "strengthening regional efforts around the world." (141) The URI plans to release the next version of the Charter in September 1999; they expect that this will be the version that adherents will sign in June of 2000. (142) Delegates discussed Bishop Swing's proposal to build a United Religions institute at the Presidio in San Francisco, in order to "train UR leaders, establish programs in conflict management and perhaps oversee a United Religions 'Peace Corps' for young people." (143) Delegates also made plans to elect "an international group of representatives to join the URI board of directors to form a transition team" from the URI to the post-2000 structure of the United Religions. (144) They condemned the June 1999 fire bombings of three synagogues in Sacramento, California.(145)

Jimmy Carter, URI supporter?

In late 1999, "Bishop Swing will attend an interfaith forum in Atlanta, Georgia, hosted by former US President Jimmy Carter, who has expressed interest in the project." (146) The open question is whether Carter will move from "expressed interest" to active support of the URI.

Changes along the way, 1995-1999

Between the summer of 1995 and mid-1999, the focus and schedule for the URI have changed. Bishop Swing originally planned that the URI would be a daily assembly of representatives of the world's major religions at a UN-style headquarters in San Francisco. Now, URI organizers plan for a decentralized global network encompassing all the world's religions and spiritual movements, with a small headquarters facility.

In the fall of 1995, Bishop Swing said that there would be "a Charter-Writing Session in San Francisco on June 24, 1996."(147) As of April 1996, Bishop Swing planned that the signing of the United Religions charter would occur in June 1998.(148) By the summer of 1996, the signing of the charter was delayed again to June 26, 2000. In the three years since then, there have been no further delays in the planned date for signing the charter.

In 1995, the URI vision had included the "great religions." A first draft charter for the URI included a discussion of the number of members and duration of existence that a religion should have in order to be represented:

"It is suggested that permanence, size and geography be used in the criteria for member representation, but not as absolutes. The Charter could require, for example, that in order to be entitled to a representative in the assembly, a member [religion] 'must have more than two million believers and have been in continuous existence for more than 50 years'." (149)

The scope of the URI had already broadened to include "spiritual movements" by the time of Bishop Swing's spring 1996 pilgrimage. (150) This was a critical decision, a choice by Bishop Swing to officially open the doors of the URI to the New Age movement. In a speech to the Commonwealth Club on March 24, 1997, Bishop Swing extended the scope of the URI even further, including "earnest agnostics" and those who are "not religious but are spiritual":

"The participants must include those who align with modern spiritual movements, which unlike the traditional world religions include women. The contributors should also include the growing group of those who claim that they are 'not religious but are spiritual,' said Swing. Agnostics would also be a viable addition for the People of the United Religions Initiative. In a diverse climate, with the inconsistencies, the blood thirstiness and the concern for control, it is no wonder that there are 'earnest agnostics,' said Swing."(151)

Among the "new spiritual movements" associated with the URI are the Covenant of the Goddess,(152) an association of Wiccans, and the Association for Global New Thought, whose constituents are "churches among Unity, Religious Science, and non-denominational NT [New Thought] lineage."(153)

Plans for a large United Religions complex in the Presidio have been shelved. In 1995 and 1996, Bishop Swing hoped for "a United Religions complex, including a Hall of Speaking, Hall of Listening, Hall of Action, and Hall of Meeting" to occupy a 10-acre site in the Presidio.(154) By the June 1997 URI summit conference, Bishop Swing shelved these plans for a large edifice, saying: " 'We don't need to spend hundreds of millions of dollars for new buildings. San Francisco still might be a 'symbolic place to put a letterhead and office,' he said."(155) At the June, 1999 URI summit, delegates considered Bishop Swing's plan to build a URI training institute at the Presidio - a far more modest central structure than Bishop Swing had envisioned in 1995 and 1996.(156)

URI plans for 2000 and beyond

In June of 2000, the URI plans to have global ceremonies marking the signing of the Charter of the United Religions. The charter will be signed on June 26, 2000 - the anniversary of the signing of the United Nations Charter - in the same room of the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco where the UN Charter was signed.(157)

Bishop Swing hopes to "gather 60 million signatures (one percent of humankind) on the Initiative in the year 2000."(158) The result would be to create what the URI describes as "a Worldwide Movement to create the United Religions as a lived reality locally and regionally, all over the world."(159) Presumably, the next step is to get the other 99% of us to go along with the New Religious Order.

Bishop Swing states that the URI strategy is to build support among the "grassroots faithful," building a movement with enough momentum to convince religious leaders to join in.(160) By 2000, once a charter draft has been written and is ready for circulation and signature, the URI will begin to seek organization-level endorsements.(161) The URI has confidence that it will succeed. It plans to hold summit meetings at Stanford through 2003, at least. (162)

URI staffing: big names sign on

URI headquarters are in the Presidio, a former military base in San Francisco; there are branch offices in Washington, DC and in Belgium. The URI now lists eighteen people as "staff and leadership,"(163) - a marked increase from the five staff members acknowledged by the URI in late 1997. The Rev. William Rankin, formerly the President and Dean of the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, joined the URI staff in 1998. (Regarding the ecclesiastical trial of Episcopal Bishop Walter Righter for ordaining an openly homosexual deacon, Rankin had said, "Heresy implies orthodoxy, and we have no such thing in the Episcopal Church.") (164) The presence of Rankin on the URI staff is significant; it seems that he considers the URI to have enough promise of success that it is reasonable for him to leave a position at the helm of a major Episcopalian seminary.

Joining Rankin as a key URI adviser is Dee Hock, founder and CEO Emeritus of VISA U.S.A. and VISA International.(165) (Barbara Marx Hubbard, a New Age futurist, introduced Hock to the URI and to Bishop Swing).(166) Hock worked for three months with a 14-member URI design committee, designing a decentralized structure for the URI, "one that calls for thousands of self-governing 'cooperation circles' to carry out the United Religions peacekeeping mission."(167) His goal was to create "an organization based on biological models that would totally distribute power ... remaining open to all interested parties and dominated by none." (168) The URI also includes Dr. David Cooperrider and three other members of the SIGMA project on its list of staff and leaders.(169)

The URI board: northern California dominates

Bishop Swing claims that the URI "now has strong backing from the religious, philanthropic, cultural, and private sectors of the San Francisco Bay Area."(170) There are 23 URI board members and officers, most of whom are from the San Francisco Bay area. Officers include Board Chair Rita Semel (vice-president of Jewish Family and Children's Services, and a member of Temple Emmanuel), Secretary Paul Chafee (a minister in the United Church of Christ, and executive director of the Interfaith Center in the Presidio), Vice-Chair Jack Lundin (a Lutheran minister), and Treasurer Rick Murray (a Catholic layman).

Other board members include Dr. Glenn Bucher (a Protestant and the president of the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley), Fr. John LoSchiavo, S. J. (former president of the Jesuit-run University of San Francisco), Fr. Gerard O'Rourke (in charge of ecumenical affairs for the Catholic Archdiocese of San Francisco), and Catholic deacon William Mitchell. Regarding local Catholic participation in URI leadership, Fr. O'Rourke wrote, "None of us and especially myself are representing the Archdiocese or the Church in any liable sense to the institution." (171)

Other Board members include Iftekhar Hai (director of the United Muslims of America, a San Jose-based organization), Sri Ravi Peruman (a Hindu), Rabbi Doug Kahn (executive director of the San Francisco-based Jewish Community Relations Council), Heng Sure (Director of the Berkeley Buddhist Monastery), and Sister Chandru Desai (a member of the Brahma Kumaris order of Hindu nuns).(172)

URI funding: blue-ribbon, non-religious sources

The URI plans for its money to come from individuals and foundations, not religious institutions. The URI wishes to avoid competition with other interfaith organizations.(173) At the 1998 Lambeth conference, Bishop Swing confirmed that "ninety-nine percent" of URI funding "is raised from private, non religious sources," and "additional support sometimes has come from surprising places."(174) The "surprising places" include the following foundations: the Soros Foundation, the Christopher Columbus Foundation, the Surdna Fund, the Community Foundation of Monterey County, the San Francisco Foundation, the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund, the Copen Family Foundation, the International Education and Resource Network, and the Worldwide Education and Research Institute. (175, 176, 177)

URI staff member Paul Andrews said in the fall of 1997, "We do not want to be funded by any one particular source. We want a broad base of support for the URI, so that there is no question of a funding source setting a religious agenda." (178) Bishop Swing acknowledges that secular support is critical for success of the URI; he says, "there is just enough help from non-religious resources: Case Western School of Management in Cleveland, Ohio; Dee Hock, founder of the VISA Card; the Presidio Trust in San Francisco, where the URI office is located; plus individuals from around the world who produce 99.4% of all contributions that URI receives."(179)

The URI is avoiding dependence on religious funding sources to avoid having anyone dictate a religious agenda. By the same logic, URI dependence on "private, non-religious" benefactors will allow those donors to promote a secular agenda for the URI.

Missing some targets: the money crunch of 1999

Although URI fundraising has grown, it is far behind the goals set in 1997. In a fall 1997 interview, URI staff member Paul Andrews said that the URI funding goal for the 1997-1998 fiscal year was $2.5 million; he added, "Between now and 2001, we'd like to raise $12 million." (180) By February 1998 the URI switched to a lower target - raising $10 million between 1998 and 2001.(181) Bishop Swing told Lambeth Daily in the summer of 1998 that the URI annual budget was roughly $1.5 million (182) - $1 million below the fall 1997 target for the 1998 fiscal year. This level of funding is enough to finance much mischief, but it is not enough to build a global mass movement for religious unity.

Financial difficulties continued to plague the URI in early 1999. At that time, the Executive Director said, "the URI's financial situation is causing us to consider a smaller summit than in the previous two years." (183) This was an accurate prediction. The URI's 1999 summit conference had 100 delegates in attendance, compared to the 200 who attended in 1997 and 1998 - a change that the URI attributed to financial problems.(184)

Is anyone listening?: the limits of the URI publicity effort

Despite URI growth since 1996, the movement shows some signs of difficulty as of mid-1999. The URI has received almost no coverage in the nation's wire services or in the national newspapers of record, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the Washington Post. The URI has received less coverage in 1998 and 1999 from the two major San Francisco area papers (the San Francisco Chronicle and the San Jose Mercury News) than it had in 1996 or 1997.(185) The URI web site is overhauled and expanded two or three times a year, but it is limited in scope and amateurish in design when compared to a Fortune 500 corporate web site - or to the elaborate web site of the State of the World Forum. Many active Episcopalians in the San Francisco Bay Area tolerate the URI as one of their local Bishop's two hobbies - the other one is golf; they do not take the URI seriously enough either to oppose or to actively support the movement.(186) Few Episcopal seminary professors or students in the Eastern and Southern states are aware of the URI.(187)

Bishop Swing's book, The Coming United Religions, is a slow seller at Amazon Books, with a ranking (as of August 28, 1999) of 1,015,963.(188) (By contrast, Neale Donald Walsch's first volume of Conversations With God has an Amazon sales rank of 173, and Barbara Marx Hubbard's Conscious Evolution has an Amazon sales rank of 3,568.) (189)

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Footnotes

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.

106 URI News Update, "URI in the world," Fall 1998, pp. 6-7 107 United Religions Initiative, "United Religions Initiative: Building spiritual partnerships for a just, sustainable and peaceable world," leaflet issued September 15, 1998, "Where We Are: Regional Highlights - Communities in Action" section 108 Resource Center for the United Nations, "Women and the Culture of Peace in the 21st Century - In Honor of International Women's Day, Monday, March 8, 1999," Internet document, http://www.unpresidio.org/99_march8.html, pp. 6, 7 109 Hot Bot, June 19, 1999 Internet search for sites with links to the URI's web site 110 Dennis Delman, "Peace Projects Proliferate for 72 Hours at the Millennium," Pacific Church News, June/July 1999, p. 21 111 "URI in the world," URI Update, no. 5, spring 1999, p. 3 112 "URI in the world," URI Update, no. 5, spring 1999, p. 4 113 "URI in the world," URI Update, no. 5, spring 1999, p. 5 114 Richard Scheinin, "Peace Among Faiths: Delegates of world's religions meet to end 'killing in the name of God'," San Jose Mercury News, Saturday, June 19, 1999; Internet version, downloaded from http://www.mercurycenter.com/, p. 2 115 Joshua L. Kwan, "Forging a vision for peace in world: Interfaith group opens conference," San Jose Mercury News, Monday, June 21, 1999; Internet version, downloaded from http://www.mercurycenter.com/, p. 2 116 Joshua L. Kwan, "Forging a vision for peace in world: Interfaith group opens conference," San Jose Mercury News, Monday, June 21, 1999; Internet version, downloaded from http://www.mercurycenter.com/, p. 1 117 "URI in the world," URI Update, no. 5, spring 1999, p. 5 118 Joshua L. Kwan, "Forging a vision for peace in world: Interfaith group opens conference," San Jose Mercury News, Monday, June 21, 1999; Internet version, downloaded from http://www.mercurycenter.com/, p. 2 119 "URI in the world," URI Update, no. 5, spring 1999, p. 3 120 Telephone interview by Lee Penn of Faith McDonnell, of the Institute for Religion and Democracy, June 22, 1999 121 Dennis Delman, " 'Lambeth Erred ... ': Diocese to Tackle Lambeth Statement: 'Homosexual Practice Incompatible With Scripture'," Pacific Church News, December 1998/January 1999, p. 43; "Excerpts from the Bishop's Address" [to the 1998 Diocesan convention], p. 42 122 Dennis Delman, " 'Lambeth Erred ... ': Diocese to Tackle Lambeth Statement: 'Homosexual Practice Incompatible With Scripture'," Pacific Church News, December 1998/January 1999, p. 43 123 "Bishop Swing Addresses World Congress of Faiths: Raises Possibility That URI Might Play A Role in Salt Lake City Olympics Opening Ceremony," Pacific Church News, December 1998/January 1999, p. 39 124 Ross Dunn, "Anglican bishop hopes to set up 'United Religions' organization," Ecumenical News International, June 22, 1999 125 Elaine Ruth Fletcher, "S.F. group's interfaith meeting draws Dalai Lama to Jerusalem," San Francisco Examiner, June 11, 1999, page A-2; Internet version; downloaded from http://www.sfgate.com, p. 1; Bill Wallace, "Lotus Fund's Ex-Leader Gets Prison," San Francisco Chronicle, June 5, 1999, page A-15; Internet version; downloaded from http://www.sfgate.com - for the relationship between Feinstein and Blum 126 Don Lattin, "Bishop Pushes Presidio Interfaith Group," San Francisco Chronicle, January 23, 1996, p. A-13 127 Elaine Ruth Fletcher, "S.F. group's interfaith meeting draws Dalai Lama to Jerusalem," San Francisco Examiner, June 11, 1999, page A-2; Internet version; downloaded from http://www.sfgate.com, p. 2 128 Elaine Ruth Fletcher, "S.F. group's interfaith meeting draws Dalai Lama to Jerusalem," San Francisco Examiner, June 11, 1999, page A-2; Internet version; downloaded from http://www.sfgate.com, p. 2 129 The Government of Tibet in Exile, "Press Statement Of Jerusalem Conference," Internet document, http://www.tibet.com/NewsRoom/jerusalem-statement.html, p. 1 130 "URI in the world," URI Update, no. 5, spring 1999, p. 3 131 Elaine Ruth Fletcher, "S.F. group's interfaith meeting draws Dalai Lama to Jerusalem," San Francisco Examiner, June 11, 1999, page A-2; Internet version; downloaded from http://www.sfgate.com, p. 1 132 Elaine Ruth Fletcher, "S.F. group's interfaith meeting draws Dalai Lama to Jerusalem," San Francisco Examiner, June 11, 1999, page A-2; Internet version; downloaded from http://www.sfgate.com, p. 1 133 Elaine Ruth Fletcher, "S.F. group's interfaith meeting draws Dalai Lama to Jerusalem," San Francisco Examiner, June 11, 1999, page A-2; Internet version; downloaded from http://www.sfgate.com, p. 1 134 Jack Katzenell, "Dalai Lama Brings Religion Together," Associated Press, June 13, 1999; Internet version; downloaded from http://www.washingtonpost.com 135 Elaine Ruth Fletcher, "S.F. group's interfaith meeting draws Dalai Lama to Jerusalem," San Francisco Examiner, June 11, 1999, page A-2; Internet version; downloaded from http://www.sfgate.com, p. 2; The Government of Tibet in Exile, "Press Statement Of Jerusalem Conference," Internet document, http://www.tibet.com/NewsRoom/jerusalem-statement.html, p. 2 136 Joshua L. Kwan, "Forging a vision for peace in world: Interfaith group opens conference," San Jose Mercury News, Monday, June 21, 1999; Internet version, downloaded from http://www.mercurycenter.com/, p. 1 137 United Religions Initiative, "June 1999 Global Summit Conference," Internet document, http://www.united-religions.org/events/jun2.shtml, p. 1; attendance information used for this analysis 138 United Religions Initiative, "June 1999 Global Summit Conference," Internet document, http://www.united-religions.org/events/jun2.shtml, p. 2 139 Covenant of the Goddess, "About COG," Internet document, http://www.cog.org/general/pamphlet.html, p. 1 140 United Religions Initiative, "June 1999 Global Summit Conference," Internet document, http://www.united-religions.org/events/jun2.shtml, p. 1; attendance information used for this analysis 141 Charles Gibbs, introductory article, URI Update, no. 5, spring 1999, p. 1 142 United Religions Initiative, "June 1999 Global Summit Conference," Internet document, http://www.united-religions.org/events/jun2.shtml, pp. 2, 4, 5 143 Richard Scheinin, "Peace Among Faiths: Delegates of world's religions meet to end 'killing in the name of God'," San Jose Mercury News, Saturday, June 19, 1999; Internet version, downloaded from http://www.mercurycenter.com/, p. 4 144 United Religions Initiative, "June 1999 Global Summit Conference," Internet document, http://www.united-religions.org/events/jun2.shtml, p. 3 145 Don Lattin, "Conference Rejects Religious Hate: 100 leaders meet at Stanford University to resolve conflicts," San Francisco Chronicle, June 23, 1999, page A17; Internet version, downloaded from http://www.sfgate.com 146 Ross Dunn, "Anglican bishop hopes to set up 'United Religions' organization," Ecumenical News International, June 22, 1999 147 Bishop William Swing, Diocesan convention address, October 21, 1995, p. 5 148 Bishop William Swing, "The United Religions Initiative," document issued in April 1996, p. 2 149 Peter Hart, "The United Religions Organization: A proposal for the 50th Anniversary of the Signing of the United Nations Charter at San Francisco, California, June 26, 1995," p. 8 150 Bishop William Swing, "Reactions from Religious Leaders," (comment by the Rev. John Buehrens criticizing this decision), document released in the summer of 1996 by the URI, p. 4 151 Jennifer Shaw, "Bishop Offers New Religious Vision for 21st Century," Contra Costa Sun, news section, page 6, March 26, 1997 152 United Religions Initiative, "June 1999 Global Summit Conference," Internet document, http://www.united-religions.org/events/jun2.shtml, p. 2; see also, Magical Acts, "Magical Acts ritual-theatre, PanthaeaCon '99 Schedule," Internet document, http://www.magicalacts.org/pc99.html, p. 3 - activities of Donald H. Frew 153 Association for Global New Thought, "AGNT Panel Presentation - Parliament of the World's Religions - Cape Town, South Africa December 1-8, 1999," Internet document, http://www.agnt.org/parliament~1.htm 154 Richard Scheinin, "Faith in Dialogue: Leaders From World's Myriad Religions Gather at Stanford in Hopes of Transcending Beliefs, Borders With 'Spiritual UN'," San Jose Mercury News, June 23, 1997, front section, page 1A; Don Lattin, "Bishop Pushes Presidio Interfaith Group," San Francisco Chronicle, January 23, 1996, p. A-13 155 Richard Scheinin, "Faith in Dialogue: Leaders From World's Myriad Religions Gather at Stanford in Hopes of Transcending Beliefs, Borders With 'Spiritual UN'," San Jose Mercury News, June 23, 1997, front section, page 1A 156 Richard Scheinin, "Peace Among Faiths: Delegates of world's religions meet to end 'killing in the name of God'," San Jose Mercury News, Saturday, June 19, 1999; Internet version, downloaded from http://www.mercurycenter.com/, p. 4 157 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, pp. 12, 13 158 Peace and Justice Connections, "The United Religions Initiative - 'No More of This' (Luke 22:51)"; report on May 1998 speech by Bishop William Swing, Peace and Justice Network of San Joaquin County, California, Internet document, http://www.sonnet.com/usr/pjc/07-98/unitedreligions.htm, p. 2 159 "URI Global Conference: In the spirit of service," URI News Update, No. 3, Fall 1997, p. 3 160 Bishop William Swing, The Coming United Religions, United Religions Initiative and CoNexus Press, 1998, ISBN 0-9637897-5-9; p. 19 161 Interviews by Lee Penn of Paul Andrews, URI staff member, October 7 and December 11, 1997 162 Lisa Trei, "No summer slump: University a hot spot for camps and conferences," Stanford News Online; Internet document, http://www.stanford.edu/dept/news/report/news/august26/summercamp.html, p. 3 163 United Religions Initiative, "United Religions Initiative: Building spiritual partnerships for a just, sustainable and peaceable world," leaflet issued September 15, 1998, "Staff & Leadership" section 164 As quoted by Witness magazine (a liberal Episcopal magazine), December 1995, p. 36 165 United Religions Initiative news release to the Episcopal News Service, February 6, 1998 166 URI on-line archive, e-mail from Sally Ackerly to URI leadership, February 27, 1998, Internet document, http://origin.org/uri/txt/Org2Design.txt, p. 2 167 Richard Scheinin, "Peace Among Faiths: Delegates of world's religions meet to end 'killing in the name of God'," San Jose Mercury News, Saturday, June 19, 1999; Internet version, downloaded from http://www.mercurycenter.com/, p. 4 168 Richard Scheinin, "Peace Among Faiths: Delegates of world's religions meet to end 'killing in the name of God'," San Jose Mercury News, Saturday, June 19, 1999; Internet version, downloaded from http://www.mercurycenter.com/, p. 3; the ellipses were in the original document. 169 United Religions Initiative, "United Religions Initiative: Building spiritual partnerships for a just, sustainable and peaceable world," leaflet issued September 15, 1998, "Staff & Leadership" section 170 Bishop William Swing, The Coming United Religions, United Religions Initiative and CoNexus Press, 1998, ISBN 0-9637897-5-9; p. 14 171 Fr. Gerard O'Rourke, "United Religions Initiative: Perspective of Father Gerry O'Rourke," April 7, 1998, p. 2 172 Board member list from United Religions Initiative, "United Religions Initiative: Building spiritual partnerships for a just, sustainable and peaceable world," leaflet issued September 15, 1998, "Board of Directors" section. Organizational affiliations provided by Paul Andrews, URI staff person, November 20, 1997, and supplemented by Engineers Without Frontiers, "EWOF News And Events," Internet document, http://www.ewof.org/news.htm and Lorri Eppstein, "Jewish Activist to head international interfaith group," Jewish Bulletin of Northern California, May 23, 1997; Internet document, http://jewishsf.com/bk970523/sfahead.htm, p. 2 173 United Religions Initiative, "Who Is Funding the URI," Internet document, http://www.united-religions.org/questions/question_5.shtml 174 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. 2 175 List provided on November 20, 1997 by Paul Andrews, a URI staff member 176 "Youth Task Group," URI News Update, March 1997, no. 2, p. 1 177 Worldwide Education and Research Institute, "Philanthropic and Emergency Projects," Internet document, http://weri.org/projects/philanth.htm, p. 2 178 Interviews by Lee Penn of Paul Andrews, URI staff member, October 7 and December 11, 1997 179 "Bishop Swing Addresses World Congress of Faiths: Raises Possibility That URI Might Play A Role in Salt Lake City Olympics Opening Ceremony," Pacific Church News, December 1998/January 1999, p. 39 180 Interviews by Lee Penn of Paul Andrews, URI staff member, October 7 and December 11, 1997 181 United Religions Initiative news release to the Episcopal News Service, February 6, 1998 182 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. 2 183 Charles Gibbs, introductory article, URI Update, no. 5, spring 1999, p. 1 184 United Religions Initiative, "June 1999 Global Summit Conference," Internet document, http://www.united-religions.org/events/jun2.shtml, p. 1 185 Based on a review of press coverage, including hard copy stories and on-line archives 186 Based on conversations by Lee Penn with numerous San Francisco Bay Area Episcopalians between 1995 and 1999 187 Based on conversations by Lee Penn with Episcopal seminary professors and staff at Sewanee, Trinity, and Virginia 188 Search of Amazon web site, http://www.amazon.com, for data on Bishop Swing's book, The Coming United Religions, as of August 28, 1999 189 Search of Amazon web site, http://www.amazon.com, for data on Neale Donald Walsch's first volume of Conversations With God, and Barbara Marx Hubbard's Conscious Evolution, as of June 20, 1999

 

 

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