546 – Revd Dr Marcus Braybrooke

In Letters of Support, United Kingdom by Sulayman Hart

Title/ Positio
Interfaith Scholar, IFIID and Independent Culture Writer

World Congress of Faiths


I enthusiastically endorse World Interfaith Harmony Week. In light of the current strife in Israel and Palestine–and its reverberations worldwide–it is imperative that the event be widely supported and publicized.

I write to give my strong support to World Interfaith Harmony Week. It was never more important with the tragic situation in in Israel and Gaza and the increase of interfaith conflict in many parts of the world.

Indeed, I have devoted much of my life to the World Congress of Faiths, which was founded by Francis Younghusband in 1936 and other interfaith organizations and have written several books about interfaith history and edited 1,000 World Prayers abd other books of prayers from different world faiths.

May blessings abound on all who work for interfaith harmony

Interfaith Pioneers 1893-1939
The Legacy of the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago

By Marcus Braybrooke

The modern interfaith movement dates from the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago in 1893. Accounts of the Parliament often ignore the important fringe meetings. These forgotten gatherings are described here.

Interfaith Pioneers highlights the contribution of Asian participants: Jains, Zoroastrians, Shinto and especially Hindus, led by Swami Vivekananda and Buddhists, led by Dharmapala.

Also of two Jewish Congresses, one for men and one for women
and the Prophetic Voices of many women, including Julia Ward Howe, author of the Battle Hymn of the Republic

The International Association for Religious Freedom was founded soon after the Parliament: but further progress was over-shadowed by the coming of war and by World War

Post World War One

The Religions of Empire Conference 1924

The first major post-war international inter-religious gathering was in London in 1924 for the Religions of Empire Conference. This was chaired by Denison Ross, who stressed the importance of the academic study of religions which was promoted by the International Congress of the History of Religions. Other speakers, especially Francis Younghusband highlighted the practical importance of meeting people of another religion and learning about their beliefs .

The Second of World Parliament of Religions 1933

In 1933, a Second Parliament of World Religions was held in Chicago, in which people of many faiths discussed what practical action could be taken to reduce antisemitism and the danger of war.

The World Congress of Faiths

Subsequently, Francis Younghusband was invited to take the lead in arranging a third Parliament of Religions in London. This became known as the World Congress of Faiths. Spiritual leaders and scholars came from across the world, including D.T Suzuki from Japan, Yusuf Ali, Savepalli Radhakrishnan and S N Das Gupta from India and Malalasekera from Ceylon.

A continuing body called the World Congress of Faiths (WCF) was established and the book describes the conferences held in Oxford,Cambridge and Paris

Looking to the Future

A Second World War made international gatherings impossible, but annual meetings were held in the UK. Even during the war some religious and political leaders were thinking about the post word war, as shown by the Atlantic Charter and The Three Faith Declaration. Faith leaders also shared in planning for the creation of the United Nations (UN).