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Title: Baha'is Call for Religious Leaders at the UN to Identify Core Values
Bahá'í World News Service
News from the Bahá'í International Community
Date: 29 August 2000
For more information, contact: Brad Pokorny, 212-803-2500 or bpokorny@bic.org

BAHA'IS CALL FOR RELIGIOUS LEADERS GATHERED AT THE UNITED NATIONS TO IDENTIFY "CORE VALUES" THAT CAN LAY THE FOUNDATION FOR PEACE

UNITED NATIONS (29 Aug 2000) Calling for a "global community based on unity in diversity," the representative of the Bahá'í International Community to the Millennium World Peace Summit of Religious and Spiritual Leaders today called for the world's religious leaders to take on the task of identifying "core values that are common to all religious and spiritual traditions."

Addressing religious and spiritual leaders gathered at the United Nations for an historic four-day meeting aimed building tolerance, fostering peace and encouraging interreligious dialogue among all of the world's religions, Albert Lincoln, the Secretary General of the Bahá'í International Community, urged fellow religious leaders to put aside differences and to work together in the cause of peace and for the sake of the world's children.

"Our disordered world is in desperate need of a moral compass that is above passing fashion and untainted by the pervasive materialism of the modern era," said Dr. Lincoln, addressing the first such gathering of high-level religious leaders ever held in the United Nations. "The convening of this summit suggests that the world has become aware of this need and of the capacity latent in the world's religious traditions."

Dr. Lincoln said that one of the greatest dangers facing mankind comes from a generation of children growing up in a moral vacuum.

"Each child is potentially the light of the world, and its darkness," said Dr. Lincoln. "Lighting the lamps of these souls is a responsibility we must collectively assume if civilization is to thrive. Children must not be deprived of the light of moral education, especially the girl-child, who is the transmitter of values to future generations. Indeed, educated women are one of the most important keys to world peace."

Attended by more than 1,000 religious leaders from around the world, the Millennium World Peace Summit of Religious and Spiritual Leaders is scheduled to run from 28 to 31 August. Representatives of virtually all of the world's religions are in attendance, including leaders from the Bahá'í Faith, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Jainism, Judaism, Islam, Shintoism, Sikhism, and Zoroastrianism, as well as indigenous religions.

Dr. Lincoln said the convening of such a gathering was an historic event, reflecting a new level of interaction between the world's secular and spiritual institutions.

"Above and beyond a remarkable maturation in inter-religious dialogue, this meeting of spiritual leaders in the Chamber of the United Nations General Assembly, on the eve of the Millennium Summit of the world's Heads of State and Government, marks an historic and vital step forward in creating the necessary mutual respect and cooperation between religious and political leadership, conditions without which world peace and the prosperity of humankind are probably unattainable," said Dr. Lincoln.

Organizers of the Summit include a wide range of interfaith groups, private foundations and non-governmental organizations. Organizers say they hope that religious leaders will end the meeting by issuing a joint "Declaration for World Peace." They also expect to establish an ongoing International Advisory Council of Religious and Spiritual Leaders, which they hope will serve as an ongoing interfaith resource for the United Nations in its quest for peace, global understanding and international cooperation.

Dr. Lincoln endorsed the concept of such an International Advisory Councils of Religious and Spiritual Leaders, saying they "could function as a most effective vehicle to channel the power of religion to bring about a better world, for all, including the children."

"Essential to all the functions of the Advisory Councils would be the task of identifying the core values that are common to all religious and spiritual traditions," he said. "This would form a firm foundation for united effort in the spirit of service to humankind as a whole."

The Councils could also serve in helping to develop appropriate curricula and delivery systems for the moral education and training of children and youth. "The Regional Councils could be instrumental in nurturing consultative processes at the national and regional levels, involving educational experts and representatives of the religious and spiritual traditions espoused by the relevant populations," said Dr. Lincoln.

Dr. Lincoln is the highest-ranking officer of the Bahá'í International Community, an international non-governmental organization that represents and encompasses the worldwide membership of the Bahá'í Faith. Dr. Lincoln reports directly to the Universal House of Justice, the elected governing body of the Bahá'í Faith. With a membership of more than 5 million people and significant communities in more than 235 countries and territories, the Bahá'í Faith is the second-most widespread independent world religion.

For more information about the Summit, visit http://www.millenniumpeacesummit.org

For more information about the worldwide Bahá'í community, visit htttp://www.bahai.org

Contact Brad Pokorny at 212-803-2500 or by email at bpokorny@bic.org

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©Copyright 2000, Bahá'í World News Service

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