Special Report: 2015 Parliament of the World’s Religions

The 2015 Parliament held in Salt Lake City last week was a blockbuster sensation, themed “Reclaiming the Heart of Our Humanity: Working Together for a World of Compassion, Peace, Justice and Sustainability.”

The 10,000 participants, who hailed from 80 countries and 50 different religious and spiritual traditions, banded together in shared concern for the Earth and issued a call for a more just, peaceful, and sustainable world.


Founded in 1893, the Parliament of the World’s Religions is the oldest, largest, and as of 2015, the most inclusive gathering of people of all faiths and traditions from around the world.

The Parliament, People, and Critical Issues of Our Times

The 2015 Parliament featured a master class of today’s most influential leaders including Nobel Peace Prize laureates, religious leaders, global thinkers, scientists, and interfaith and environmental Activists from around the world. These luminaries included His Holiness The Dalai Lama, Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, Dr. Karen Armstrong, Dr. Tariq Ramadan, Dr. Vandana Shiva, Marianne Williamson, Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb, H.H. Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, Dr. Jane Goodall, Mairead Maguire, Dr. Eboo Patel, Michael Bernard Beckwith, Rev. Jim Wallis, Karenna Gore, Sheikh Saleh Abdullah bin Humaid of Mecca, Dr. Kathryn Hayhoe, Chief Arvol Lookinghorse, and Vancouver’s young Ta’Kaiya Blaney from the Sliammon Nation.

The most critical topics addressed by delegates in both speeches and plenaries were Climate Change and Care for Creation, Women’s Dignity and Human Rights, Income Inequity and Wasteful Consumption, War, Violence and Hate Speech, and Indigenous Communities.

“The phrase ‘Sense of the Earth” should be understood to mean the passionate concern for our common destiny which draws the thinking part of life ever further onward. In principle there is no feeling which has a firm foundation in nature, or greater power. But in fact there is also no feeling which awakens so belatedly, since it can become explicit only when our consciousness has expanded beyond the broadening, but still far too restricted, circles of family, country and race, and has finally discovered that the only truly natural and real human Unity is the Spirit of Earth.”

 –Pierre Teilhard de Chardin: Building the Earth, p.43

Host to the Next Parliament of the World’s Religions

The location of the next Parliament of the World’s Religions has not yet been announced. But envision Vancouver as a host city, marking the Parliament’s inaugural appearance in Canada in all its 124 year history.

Inarguably, there could not be a more timely moment, nor a more fitting place in the history of the Parliament of the World’s Religions, than to bring the Parliament to “Vancouver” – 2020 Greenest City in the World. To unite under the banner of Integral Ecology on our First Nations territories, and address the existential crisis we now face: “extreme economic disparity, increased competition for resources including land and water, a severely degraded natural world, failing nation states, and a climate on the verge of spinning out of control.”

Known throughout the world as Beautiful British Columbia, BC Supernatural with its abundant resources amidst majestic mountains, the Pacific Ocean, and the healing rainforests of the Pacific Northwest, our people stand in solidarity. United in justice for all, and united in preserving and protecting our Coast, and Mother Earth, our source of life. The Spirit of Earth.

Vancouver as Parliament Host City – Let’s bid! Let’s make it happen!

NEW MILESTONES: 2015 Parliamentary Facts

  • It was the first women’s assembly
  • The first Sacred Fire burned throughout the parliament
  • The Imam of Mecca for the first time attended the parliament
  • 73 countries represented, 30 major religions, 548 sub-traditions
  • It was the first live-streamed parliament: 28,000 views there
  • The largest number of programs 1,000-plus with 1,800 presenters
  • The largest number of exhibitors and films including Oprah’s Belief
  • The original documents of Gandhi and pieces of art in the cultural hall
  • The first mayor’s panel on Compassionate Cities along with the first panel of police chiefs
  • Each day from 12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m., Langara vegetarian meal that brings people together around sharing the meal, was shared at no expense to parliament attendees as a gift of the Sikh tradition.
  • In addition, all left over food (a total of 3,800 pounds over the five days, equal to 3,166 meals) was donated daily to the nearby Catholic Community Services St. Vincent de Paul Soup Kitchen, housing and homeless shelter
  • Women and young people under 30 made up just more than 65 percent of participants at the 2015 parliament!
  • The Charter for Compassion and the United Religions Initiative supported the Parliament from day one.
  • The Salt Lake Interfaith Roundtable converted a Parliament venue, for the first time, into a sacred space and organized a beautiful night of Sacred Music in the Salt Lake Tabernacle.
2015 PWR Report © Ellen Vaillancourt