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From the June, 2000 issue of Touchstone

 

Midwives of a Common God by Lee Penn

Midwives of a Common God

The Myriad Friends of the United Religions Initiative

by Lee Penn

San Francisco’s Episcopal Bishop William E. Swing expects “tens of thousands of leaders of the world’s religions, spiritualities, and indigenous traditions”1 to attend the signing of the United Religions Initiative (URI) Charter in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on June 26, 2000. The URI also expects United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the Dalai Lama to attend.2

Bishop Swing founded the United Religions Initiative in 1995. The URI intends to become “a permanent assembly, with the stature and visibility of the United Nations”3 encompassing “all religions, spiritual expressions, and indigenous traditions.”4

While the URI actually may not see its “tens of thousands” show up in Pittsburgh in June, it has been highly successful in extending its reach in only five years and is growing steadily. So far, URI activities have occurred in 58 countries on all continents, and in 33 states in the United States.5 The URI claims that one million people participated in its three-day global “religious cease-fire” from December 31, 1999, to January 2, 20006—a millennial bash dedicated to the propositions that good intentions are the road to peace, and that all religions really intend the same thing.

Birthing & Funding the “New Hope”

The leaders of the URI hope to assist in creating an earthly utopia. The proposed URI charter says that the organization’s purpose is “to promote enduring, daily interfaith cooperation” and to “end religiously motivated violence.” The URI also plans to “create cultures of peace, justice and healing for the Earth and all living beings.”7 Bishop Swing told the 1997 URI summit conference: “If you have come here because a spirit of colossal energy is being born in the loins of earth, then come here and be a midwife. Assist, in awe, at the birth of new hope.” This “new hope”8 will have the Earth, not the Church or the Virgin Mary, as its mother. In a sermon given during the 1999 Parliament of World Religions, Bishop Swing said, “What a time to wait on God. . . . for the coming new light among religions, spiritual expressions, and indigenous traditions.”9 This “new light” will not be the light of Christ.

As a parallel effort with the URI, Bishop Swing has formed the Inter-Religious Friendship Group (IRFG). Other leaders of the IRFG are the Dalai Lama and Richard Blum, a wealthy San Francisco investment banker—and the husband of United States Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).10 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.”11

The IRFG has met three times, most recently in November 1999 at the Carter Center in Atlanta, Georgia. The Reverend Dr. Gary Gunderson, director of the Carter Center’s Interfaith Health Program,12 says that the URI “is one of the most promising global initiatives,” a “long term alignment that will bear fruit for decades.”13 He said, “While not a formal member of the URI, President Carter stressed how much the Center valued the role of religious leaders in conflict situations. . . . He asked the group to request his involvement in the future as specific interventions or projects crystallize.”14 Thus, President Carter may become an open ally of the URI.

The URI has recently acquired substantial funding. In October 1999, Bishop Swing announced that the URI had received a $1.7 million grant from a Pittsburgh-area foundation, and that the URI will move its headquarters there from San Francisco.15 Swing noted that many people have not wanted to cooperate with the URI because the current San Francisco location carries “negative connotations.”16 A source in close contact with the ECUSA hierarchy indicates that “the move is being sponsored by some foundations with deep pockets and a strong liberal agenda that includes putting pressure on the Episcopal diocesan structure”; one of these foundations is the Hillman Foundation, associated with a wealthy, nationally prominent liberal Republican family and with Calvary Church, “one of the few remaining liberal parishes in Pittsburgh.”17

The Pittsburgh URI coordinator is a UN employee, Karen Plavan; she is also associated with the Pittsburgh Leadership Foundation.18 The URI has applied for UN recognition as a nongovernmental organization,19 showing that it seeks a UN seal of approval.

The URI has received grants from the Soros Foundation and the Copen Family Foundation,20 the Christopher Columbus Foundation,21 the Surdna Fund,22 the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund,23 the Community Foundation of Monterey County,24 the San Francisco Foundation,25 the International Education and Resource Network,26 the Worldwide Education and Research Institute,27 and the Arthur Vining Davis Foundation.28 Foundation money has been essential to the URI from the start. In 1998, Bishop Swing said that “ninety-nine percent” of URI funding “is raised from private, nonreligious sources.”29

Gathering Religious Partners

Numerous leaders of Asian religions—most notably, the Dalai Lama30—support the URI. Muslim URI supporters include URI board member Iftekhar Hai, of the United Muslims of America;31 Javid Iqbal, a former Pakistani supreme court justice;32 and W. D. Mohammed.33 URI outreach now also includes Iranian Shiites. The URI in Zimbabwe “has formed a unique and innovative Partnership with the Iranian Embassy in Harare. The URI convened a meeting to be funded by the Iranian Embassy at which the URI Preamble, Purpose & Principles was discussed, and more members were received into the URI community.”34 Meanwhile, URI Vice President William Rankin has provided an excuse for the crimes of the Islamic regime in 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.”35

The URI has the tacit support or active cooperation of most of the other active interfaith organizations—including the Millennium Forum,36 the International Interfaith Centre,37 the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions,38 the Global Education Associates,39 the Interfaith Center of New York,40 the Interfaith Youth Corps,41 the Temple of Understanding,42 the North American Interfaith Network, the International Association for Religious Freedom, the World Congress of Faiths, the Peace Council, and the World Conference on Religion and Peace.43

The URI has support among liberal Protestants and Jews, dissident Catholics, a few bishops of non-Chalcedonian East Syriac and Coptic Churches, and the leaders of the China Christian Council, the state-approved Protestant church in China.44 In November 1999, URI Vice President William Rankin spoke to an interfaith forum at Foundry Methodist Church—the church usually attended by the First Family.45

Catholic supporters of the URI include Cardinal Paul Evaristo Arns, the retired Archbishop of São Paulo, Brazil;46 Archbishop Anthony Pantin, from Trinidad;47 and the auxiliary Bishop of Detroit, Thomas Gumbleton.48 Other Catholic URI activists include two URI board members—Fr. John LoSchiavo, S.J. (former president of the University of San Francisco), and Fr. Gerard O’Rourke, director of ecumenical affairs for the Catholic Archdiocese of San Francisco—URI treasurer Rick Murray, and Latin American URI Coordinator Fr. Luis Dolan.49 Sister Joan Kirby, of the Temple of Understanding, also supports the URI.50 Theologians supporting the URI include Paul Knitter, senior editor at Orbis Books and professor of theology at Xavier University;51 Leonard Swidler, professor at Temple University;52 and Hans Küng;53 all are dissenters from Church teachings.

These Catholic religious groups supported the URI’s global “religious cease-fire”: the Leadership Conference of Women Religious,54 Monastic Inter-Religious Dialogue,55 the Pakistani Catholic Bishops National Commission for Christian Muslim Relations,56 the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Saco, Maine,57 the Franciscan Sisters of the Poor in New York and New Jersey,58 the Sisters of St. Joseph in Wheeling, West Virginia59 and in Philadelphia,60 the Sisters of St. Francis in Philadelphia,61 the Medical Mission Sisters in Philadelphia,62 the Sisters of the Humility of Mary in Villa Maria, Pennsylvania,63 40,000 Benedictine and Cistercian monks worldwide,64 Pax Christi of Cleveland, Ohio,65 the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine in Richfield, Ohio,66 the Notre Dame Sisters in Omaha, Nebraska,67 Pax Christi USA and the Los Angeles Catholic Worker,68 the Holy Redeemer Retreat Center in Oakland, California,69 the Justice and Peace Committee of the California province of the Sisters of the Holy Name,70 the Sisters of Providence in St. Mary-in-the-Woods in Indiana and the Religious Orders Partnership71 (associated with Global Education Associates and more than 165 religious orders worldwide),72 the Maryknoll religious,73 and the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary in the Philippines.74

In addition to Bishop Swing, the Anglican bishops who publicly support the URI include Frank Griswold, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States (ECUSA);75 Bishop James Ottley,76 formerly the Anglican Observer at the UN; Samir Kafity, formerly the Bishop of Jerusalem;77 Bishop Michael Ingham,78 of the Diocese of New Westminster in Canada; and the Nobel laureate Archbishop from South Africa, Desmond Tutu.79 Bishop Clark Grew of Ohio, who is one of 11 members of Griswold’s “Council of Advice,”80 asked his diocese to participate in the URI’s three-day global “religious cease-fire.”81 The annual convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles has likewise endorsed the “cease-fire”;82 Bishop Talton, suffragan Bishop for this diocese, is also a member of Griswold’s “Council of Advice.”83

Not Everyone Is Friendly

The Archbishop of Canterbury has not spoken publicly about the URI, although the Church of England newspaper offered gentle criticism in an October 1999 editorial.84 One active Anglican bishop—Archbishop Harry Goodhew, of Australia—has publicly criticized the URI.85 Bishop Charles Murphy, recently consecrated in Singapore by two conservative Anglican Archbishops, has denounced the URI as part of the “crisis of faith”86 in ECUSA—but the Archbishop of Canterbury will not recognize Murphy as an Anglican Bishop because of his belief that the Singapore consecrations were “irresponsible and irregular.”87

No Eastern Orthodox bishops support the URI. Evangelical Protestants and the Vatican oppose the URI.88 In 1996, Cardinal Arinze declined Bishop Swing’s invitation to participate in the URI. In mid-1999, a representative of the Vatican department responsible for interfaith work stated: “Religious syncretism is a theological error. That is why the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue does not approve of the United Religions Initiative and does not work with it.”89 In a January 28, 2000 message to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the pope said, “It is erroneous to consider the Church as a way of salvation equal to those of other religions, which would be complementary to the Church.”90

No Fundamentalists, No Martyrs

Faithful Christians have good reason to shun the URI. Bishop Swing condemns Christian evangelism, which he calls “proselytizing.”91 Swing says that “proselytizing, condemning, murdering, or dominating” will “not be tolerated in the United Religions zone”92—the whole world. URI leaders say “proselytizing” is the work of “fundamentalists,” and URI board member Paul Chafee said in 1997 that “We can’t afford fundamentalists in a world this small.”93 ECUSA Presiding Bishop Griswold shares the URI’s loathing of “fundamentalism.” When denouncing the Singapore consecrations of two evangelical bishops to serve in the United States, Griswold condemned “the dangerous fundamentalism—both within Islam and our own Christian community—which threatens to turn our God of compassion into a [sic] idol of wrath.”94

Bishop Swing has said, “The United Religions will not be a rejection of ancient religion but will be found buried in the depths of these religions.”95 If United Religions were “buried in the depths” of Christianity, countless martyrs could have avoided death by burning incense before the statue of the Roman emperor, and today’s martyrs in Sudan and China could apostatize with a clear conscience.

Maybe martyrs are passé; URI Vice President William Rankin says, “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.”96 Rankin, formerly the president 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 said in 1995, “Heresy implies orthodoxy, and we have no such thing in the Episcopal Church.”97

Despite the URI’s insistent denial that it intends to mix the world’s religions or start a new religion, URI ceremonies point in that direction. Lex orandi, lex credendi—the law of praying is the law of believing. At the 1995 interfaith service that launched the URI, “holy water from the Ganges, the Amazon, the Red Sea, the River Jordan, and other sacred streams” was mixed in a single “bowl of unity” on the altar of Grace Cathedral.98 Bishop Swing made the meaning of the ritual clear: “As these sacred waters find confluence here . . . may the city that chartered the nations of the world bring together the religions of the world.”99

Anglican Bishop Michael Ingham said in support of the URI that “I can imagine a time when the founders and saints of all the traditions—Moses, Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, Guru Nanak, and so on—are honoured and cherished in all of them.”100 In The Coming United Religions, Bishop Swing says, “The time comes, though, when common language and a common purpose for all religions and spiritual movements must be discerned and agreed upon. Merely respecting and understanding other religions is not enough.”101 Since the purpose of religion is the service and worship of God, Bishop Swing’s call for “all religions and spiritual movements” to have “common language and a common purpose” is, in effect, a call for all to worship a common god.

No Closed Doors

Organizations should be known by the company they keep. Enthusiastic URI supporters include New Age authors Robert Muller102 (former Assistant Secretary-General of the UN), Neale Donald Walsch103 (author of the best-selling Conversations With God books), and Barbara Marx Hubbard.104 Ms. Hubbard introduced Dee Hock, the founder of VISA, to the URI and to Bishop Swing;105 he is now an active supporter of the URI.106 Ms. Hubbard was also active in the early 1998 preparation of the draft URI Charter.107 The Rudolf Steiner Foundation, which promotes theosophical schools, has recently made a grant to the URI.108 The New York-based Lucis Trust, which spreads the teachings of American theosophist Alice Bailey, praised the URI in two 1999 issues of its newsletter World Goodwill, citing it as part of a “global shift in consciousness” that will usher in “an era in which the glory of the One will be free to shine forth in all human actions.”109

The URI proclaims its openness to all “spiritual expressions,” and its logo—15 miniature religious symbols in a circle around the letters “URI”—includes a Wiccan pentagram, as well as an empty circle to represent “the people of all beliefs yet to come.”110 A motley crew has responded to the invitation. Participants in URI events have included the Association for Global New Thought,111 Unity Church,112 the founder of “The Order of Divinity,”113 the “New Cult Awareness Network”114—dominated by Scientologists since they sued the former Cult Awareness Network out of existence in 1996—Reiki circles,115 the World Federalist Association,116 followers of “Supreme Master Ching Hai,”117 the Pagan Sanctuary Network,118 Druids,119 the Temple of Isis,120 the “Goddess Holding the World Mural Project,”121 the Covenant of the Goddess,122 the Coven of the Stone and the Mirror,123 the Wittenberg Center for Alternative Resources124 (an interfaith seminary whose core courses include such topics as “crystal & etheric healing”125), and the Western Federation Church and Tribe.126 The Tribe has adopted the URI as part of its “by-laws and tenets,” and declares that Mars and “the Earth’s Moon” are “entirely owned by the Western Federation Church and Tribe.”127

It does seem that maybe the sky is the limit. Bishop Swing has vowed that the URI will remain all-inclusive, saying, “Once you open the door, you have to keep it open.”128 Perhaps the Episcopalian prelate now wishes he had kept the key to the front door.

Notes:

1 E-mail messages dated 10/29/99 and 10/30/99 by a person who attended and reported upon Bishop Swing's 10/28/99 URI presentation in Pittsburgh.

2 Kathy Blair, "United Religions Gets Canadian start in B.C.," Anglican Journal, April 2000.

3 United Religions Initiative, "Questions: What Is the URI."

4 United Religions Initiative, "72 Hours," p. 1.

5 United Religions Initiative, "72 Hours: An Interfaith Peace-Building Project of the United Religions InitiativeSM," p. 1; analysis and country count by author.

6 United Religions Initiative, "URI Update," No. 7, Spring 2000, p. 1.

7 United Religions Initiative, "The United Religions Initiative Charter," November 18, 1999, Preamble, p. 2.

8 Bishop William Swing, to the 1997 URI summit conference, p. 2.

9 Dennis Delman, "Bishop Swing Preaches at Cape Town Cathedral: Urges 'New Day and New Way of Peacemaking'," Pacific Church News, February/March 2000, p. 25.

10 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.

11 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.

12 The Carter Center, Gary Gunderson, M. Div., "Biography."

13 12/2/99 e-mail message to the author from Gary Gunderson, of the Carter Center.

14 12/2/99 e-mail message to the author from Gary Gunderson, of the Carter Center.

15 E-mail messages dated 10/29/99 and 10/30/99, from a person who attended and reported upon Bishop Swing's 10/28/99 URI presentation in Pittsburgh.

16 E-mail messages dated 10/29/99 and 10/30/99, from a person who attended and reported upon Bishop Swing's 10/28/99 URI presentation in Pittsburgh.

17 E-mail message dated 11/29/99, from a source associated with Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry, an Evangelical ECUSA seminary in Pittsburgh.

18 E-mail dated 12/2/99 from a person who attended the 10/28/99 URI gathering in Pittsburgh, and who contacted the URI headquarters to confirm the information.

19 Conversation by the author with a UN staff member in the Department of Public Information, 4/18/2000.

20 "Youth Task Group," URI News Update, March 1997, no. 2, p. 1.

21 List provided on November 20, 1997 by Paul Andrews, a URI staff member.

22 List provided on November 20, 1997 by Paul Andrews, a URI staff member

23 List provided on November 20, 1997 by Paul Andrews, a URI staff member; $50,000 per year for 1997-2001.

24 List provided on November 20, 1997 by Paul Andrews, a URI staff member.

25 List provided on November 20, 1997 by Paul Andrews, a URI staff member.

26 "Youth Task Group," URI News Update, March 1997, no. 2, p. 1.

27 Worldwide Education and Research Institute, "Philanthropic and Emergency Projects," p. 2.

28 Arthur Vining Davis Foundation, "1999 Grants," p. 7, and "About The Foundation," p. 1.

29 Carol Barnwell, "'United Religions' Is Bishop Swing's Goal," The Lambeth Daily, Issue 4, 22 July 1998, , p. 2.

30 Bishop William Swing, "Reactions from Religious Leaders," document released in the summer of 1996 by the URI.

31 Don Lattin, "Religious Violence Decried at Gathering," San Francisco Chronicle, June 26, 1997, p. A-19.

32 Paul Chaffee, "URI Global Conference Begins Work Toward June 2000 Charter Ceremony," Pacific Church News, October/November 1997, p. 32.

33 Paul Chaffee, "URI Global Conference Begins Work Toward June 2000 Charter Ceremony," Pacific Church News, October/November 1997, p. 32.

34 United Religions Initiative, "Africa."

35 The Center for Progressive Christianity, "President's Report, February 1999, part 3, 'The United Religions Initiative'," by William Rankin, p. 2.

36 Millennium Forum, "We The Peoples-Schedule," p. 4.

37 International Interfaith Centre, "Interfaith Action in a Global Context."

38 Council for a Parliament of the World's Religions, press release, Nov. 9, 1999.

39 Global Education Associates, "Religious Orders Partnership"; "United Religions Initiative."

40 Interfaith Center of New York, "Links."

41 Interfaith Youth Corps, Newsletter, February 2000, p. 2.

42 URI pamphlet, "Dear Brothers and Sisters . . ." first page signed by Bishop William Swing, Juliet Hollister, and Robert Muller, dated Fall 1996, front page; Temple of Understanding, "Media."

43 Bishop William Swing, The Coming United Religions, United Religions Initiative and CoNexus Press, 1998, ISBN 0-9637897-5-9; pp. 24-25.

44 Bishop William Swing, "Reactions from Religious Leaders," document released in the summer of 1996 by the URI, p. 4.

45 "Invitation to Conference," at Foundry Methodist Church, November 13, 1999.

46 Information received by Lee Penn during a telephone conversation with Barbara Hartford, May 11, 1998; confirmed by Paul Andrews, May 14, 1998.

47 "News Updates from Around the World," URI News Update, Spring 1998, No. 4, p. 5.

48 United Religions Initiative, "What People Will Be Doing . . ." Internet document; United Religions Initiative, "Some Early Supporters . . ." Internet document.

49 United Religions Initiative, "United Religions Initiative: Building Spiritual Partnerships for a Just, Sustainable and Peaceable World," leaflet issued May 15, 1999, "Board of Directors" and "Staff & Leadership" sections.

50 Charles Gibbs, "Report from the Executive Director," Journal of the United Religions Initiative, issue 3, Summer 1997, p. 2.

51 Paul Chaffee, "Ring of Breath Around the World: A Report on the United Religions Initiative Global Conference," document issued in the summer of 1997 by the United Religions Initiative, p. 3.

52 Bruce Schuman, "Letter to Drs. Leonard Swidler and Ingrid Shafer," Internet document, p. 1; see also, curriculum vitae of Leonard Swidler, Internet document, p. 1. Swidler attended the 1997 URI summit meeting.

53 Bishop William Swing, "The United Religions Initiative," document issued in April 1996, p. 6.

54 Leadership Conference of Western Religious, Update.

55 United Religions Initiative, "Some Early Supporters."

56 United Religions Initiative, "72 Hours-Geographical Listing of Projects Underway," March for Peace in Pakistan, p. 8.

57 United Religions Initiative, "72 Hours-Geographical Listing of Projects Underway," project in Saco, Maine, p. 19.

58 United Religions Initiative, "72 Hours-Geographical Listing of Projects Underway," projects in New York and New Jersey, p. 22.

59 United Religions Initiative, "72 Hours-Geographical Listing of Projects Underway," project in Wheeling, West Virginia, p. 23.

60 United Religions Initiative, "72 Hours-Geographical Listing of Projects Underway," project in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, pp. 25-26.

61 United Religions Initiative, "72 Hours-Geographical Listing of Projects Underway," project in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, p. 25.

62 United Religions Initiative, "72 Hours-Geographical Listing of Projects Underway," project in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, p. 26.

63 United Religions Initiative, "72 Hours-Geographical Listing of Projects Underway," project in Villa Maria, Pennsylvania, p. 27.

64 United Religions Initiative, "72 Hours-Geographical Listing of Projects Underway," project in Lisle, Illinois, p. 29.

65 United Religions Initiative, "72 Hours-Geographical Listing of Projects Underway," project in Cleveland, Ohio, p. 31.

66 United Religions Initiative, "72 Hours-Geographical Listing of Projects Underway," project in Richfield, Ohio, p. 33.

67 United Religions Initiative, "72 Hours-Geographical Listing of Projects Underway," project in Omaha, Nebraska, p. 36.

68 United Religions Initiative, "72 Hours-Geographical Listing of Projects Underway," project at the Nevada Test Site, pp. 40-41.

69 United Religions Initiative, "72 Hours-Geographical Listing of Projects Underway," project in Oakland, California, p. 44.

70 United Religions Initiative, "72 Hours-Geographical Listing of Projects Underway," project in San Jose, California, p. 54.

71 Sisters of Providence, "General Officer Sister Joan Slobig Elected to Lead Branch of International Organization," p. 2.

72 Global Education Associates, "Religious Orders Partnership."

73 Maryknoll Magazine, "World Watch."

74 United Religions Initiative, "72 Hours-Geographical Listing of Projects Underway," worldwide project, pp. 63-64.

75 Diocese of California, "July 17, 1999-We Shined"-Griswold's statement was, "determined farsightedness is a characteristic I particularly associate with this diocese . . . as well as your present bishop's vision of the potential of the world's religions to bind up and bring together, rather than divide and turn the people of the earth against each other."

76 Telephone interview by Lee Penn of Bishop James Ottley, April 24, 1998; also, Anglican Communion Office at the United Nations, "Ministry Update-June 1997," p. 1.

77 Bishop William Swing, "The United Religions Initiative," document issued in April 1996, pp. 5-6.

78 Bishop Michael Ingham, "Christmas Message," as quoted in The Globe and Mail, Toronto, Canada, December 1, 1999, p. A-17.

79 Bishop William Swing, The Coming United Religions, United Religions Initiative and CoNexus Press, 1998, ISBN 0-9637897-5-9; foreword, p. 6.

80 List of members of Council of Advice provided by Jim Solheim, press officer for ECUSA, 4/17/2000.

81 Bishop Clark Grew, "Episcopal Address to the 1999 Diocesan Convention," pp. 2-3.

82 Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, "Resolutions Adopted from Diocesan Convention."

83 List of members of Council of Advice provided by Jim Solheim, press officer for ECUSA, 4/17/2000.

84 The Church of England Newspaper, "Editorial," October 21, 1999.

85 Archbishop Harry Goodhew, "The Cross of Christ in a Pluralistic World," Southern Cross Online, April 2000.

86 Bishop Charles Murphy, statement to The Living Church, February 13-20, 2000, interviewed by Patricia Nakamura, circulated as e-mail on 3/18/00.

87 "Press Statement from the Archbishop of Canterbury," 31 January 2000.

88 Bishop William Swing, "The United Religions Initiative," document issued in April 1996, p. 7.

89 Fr. Chidi Denis Isizoh, letter to the editor, Homiletic & Pastoral Review, Vol. XCIX, June 1999, p. 60.

90 John Paul II, message to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on Occasion of Plenary Assembly, January 28, 2000, version from http://www.geocities.com/romcath1/genarticle8.html.

91 Bishop William Swing, The Coming United Religions, United Religions Initiative and CoNexus Press, 1998, ISBN 0-9637897-5-9; p. 33.

92 Bishop William Swing, The Coming United Religions, United Religions Initiative and CoNexus Press, 1998, ISBN 0-9637897-5-9; p. 31.

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

94 Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold, statement of January 31, 2000, "For the Primates of the Anglican Communion," in response to the consecration in Singapore of Bishop Rodgers and Bishop Murphy, p. 1.

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

96 The Center for Progressive Christianity, "President's Report, February 1999, part 3, 'The United Religions Initiative'," by William Rankin, p. 4.

97 As quoted by Witness magazine (a liberal Episcopal magazine), December 1995, p. 36.

98 Richard Scheinin, "Interfaith Ceremony Promotes World Peace," San Jose Mercury News, June 26, 1995.

99 Don Lattin, "Religions of World Celebrated With Prayers to Dozen Deities," San Francisco Chronicle, June 26, 1995, pp. A1 and A11, front page section.

100 Bishop Michael Ingham, "Christmas Message," as quoted in The Globe and Mail, Toronto, Canada, December 1, 1999, p. A-17.

101 Bishop William Swing, The Coming United Religions, United Religions Initiative and CoNexus Press, 1998, ISBN 0-9637897-5-9; p. 63.

102 Don Lattin, "Religions of World Celebrated With Prayers to Dozen Deities," San Francisco Chronicle, June 26, 1995, p. A11, front page section.

103 Neale Donald Walsch, "Ending Religious Conflict," Magical Blend, Issue 58, December 1997, p. 40.

104 Barbara Marx Hubbard, Conscious Evolution: Awakening the Power of Our Social Potential, New World Library, Novato, California, 1998, ISBN 1-57731-016-0, pp. 193, 194.

105 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.

106 The Chaordic Alliance, "United Religions Initiative."

107 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.

108 Rudolf Steiner Foundation, "Client Profiles," p. 1.

109 Lucis Trust, "Transition Activities: The United Religions Initiative," World Goodwill, vol. 1, 1999, pp. 21-22; Lucis Trust, "Invoking the Spirit of Peace," World Goodwill, vol. 3, 1999, pp. 2, 3.

110 Rowan Fairgrove, "Holy Brighid Holding the World in Her Hands."

111 Association for Global New Thought, "AGNT Panel Presentation-Parliament of the World's Religions-Cape Town, South Africa December 1-8, 1999," Internet document.

112 Unity School of Christianity, "Sowing the Seeds of Hope."

113 Carolyn Amrit Knaus, O.D., M.S., "New Spiritual Order for the Next Millennium: Order of Divinity," p. 3.

114 Cult Awareness Network, "CAN Update Archive," Vol. II, Issue I, p. 6; Pastor George Robertson, Chairman of the Board, New Cult Awareness Network, letter of 9/9/99 to a newspaper that criticized the New CAN, p. 3; "CAN Update Archive," Vol. II, Issue III, p. 2.

115 United Religions Initiative, "72 Hours-Geographical Listing of Projects Underway," projects in Long Island and Hampton Bays, NY, p. 21.

116 United Religions Initiative, "72 Hours-Geographical Listing of Projects Underway," project in Washington DC, p. 24.

117 Thomas One Wolf and others; "Sharing Master's Love at the World Vision Conference," p. 1.

118 "Pagan Sanctuary Network"-a member of the URI Web ring.

119 United Religions Initiative, "72 Hours-Geographical Listing of Projects Underway," project in Mobile, Alabama, p. 34.

120 United Religions Initiative, "72 Hours-Geographical Listing of Projects Underway," project in Isis Oasis, CA, p. 42.

121 United Religions Initiative, "72 Hours-Geographical Listing of Projects Underway," project in San Francisco, CA, p. 44.

122 United Religions Initiative, "June 1999 Global Summit Conference," p. 2.

123 "About Coven of the Stone and the Mirror."

124 Wittenberg Center for Alternative Resources, "Internship Programs: The Wittenberg Center 1998," Internet document, p. 1.

125 Wittenberg Center for Alternative Resources, "The Course: Survival & Empowerment for the Twenty-First Century," Internet document, p. 1.

126 Western Federation Church and Tribe, "Home Page," pp. 5-6.

127 Western Federation Church and Tribe, "Home Page," pp. 5-6.

128 Dennis Delman, "For the Sake of the Children, We've Got to Talk," Bishop Swing Tells Commonwealth Club Gathering," Pacific Church News, August/September 1999, p. 25. 7/16/00

This report is a revised and updated portion of the author’s feature article, “The United Religions Initiative: Foundations for a World Religion” (part 3 of a series), Journal of the Spiritual Counterfeits Project (Spring 2000). For more information on the series or the URI, visit the website or call 510-540-0300.

Lee Penn is a health care information systems consultant who is also active as a researcher and writer on Church affairs, covering the United Religions Initiative and the New Age movement. His work has appeared in the New Oxford Review, the Journal of the Spiritual Counterfeits Project, and the Christian Challenge. Episcopalian by background, Penn was received into the Russian Catholic Church, an Eastern Rite Church in communion with Rome, in 1995.

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