World religious leaders gather in Salt Lake City

Dr. Vandana Shiva of India speaks at the Parliament of the World's Religions in Salt Lake City. Credit: N.C. Interfaith Power and Light

SALT LAKE CITY – Almost 10,000 religious leaders from around the world are fired up and ready to act on the major issues affecting the world today, after attending the four-day Parliament of the World’s Religions, which finished up on Monday in Salt Lake City.

Susannah Tuttle, director of North Carolina Interfaith Power and Light, said the overarching theme this year was climate change.

“The religions have been unprecedentedly silent on this incredible human rights issue of climate justice,” she said. “There was an indigenous plenary with a lot of focus around Keystone Pipeline and water and food crises.”

The conference included representatives from more than 50 different faiths hailing from 80 countries around the world.

Tuttle said the Imam of Mecca said climate change is the biggest challenge facing the world today – and then pivoted to the need to combat religious extremism.

“He spoke to the fact that folks that have nothing to live for are the most dangerous people alive,” she said, “and the role of religion is to provide that context for a sense of purpose in coming together.”

The Parliament of the World’s Religions is known as the Olympics of religion. Normally it happens every five years, but in light of the speed of world events and the advent of social media, the group decided to start meeting every two years from now on.

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