Parliament of the World’s Religions comes to Salt Lake in 2015

The Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions has news it hopes will excite advocates and religious activists from around the world.

The Parliament will host its 2015 conference in Salt Lake City, which will be the first time the Parliament has met in the United States in 22 years.

“America is the home base of the interfaith movement and it’s about time the Parliament come back home,” Chair Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid said in an announcement seen above.

On Tuesday, he was joined by Executive Director Dr. Mary Nelson, Dr. Arun Gandhi, Andrew Himes, and Sande Hart for a press conference at the Salt Palace Convention Center, where the conference will be held from October 15 – 19, 2015.

The conference will engage participants and speakers on several themes, Mujahid stated to media, including climate change, the wealth gap, and global violence.

“We selected these issues because 10 to 15 thousand people show up to the Parliament, and they are not just lay people,” Mujahid stated to the media. “They’re activists. These people have by and large influenced what gets said from the pulpit, and people speaking from the pulpit are in a good position to influence the longterm solutions.”

Mujahid said that he could not yet comment on next year’s speakers. Previous Parliament guests have included the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, President Jimmy Carter, Dr. Shirin Ebadi, Queen Noor of Jordan, Dr. Jane Goodall, Dr. Karen Armstrong, Swami Vivekananda, Rabbi David Saperstein, Dr. Hans Kung, Deepak Chopra, and Amma the Hugging Saint.

With a focus on the environment, Mujahid said that conference attendees can expect climate experts and scientists to be in attendance.

In addition to international guests, the conference will likely engage with the local faith community in Salt Lake city, which is perhaps best known as the headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

“We feel that there is extraordinary openness and desire on the part of the LDS church to be a part of the multi-religious movement,” Mujahid said regarding the LDS presence. “We have been very thankful for their openness and hospitality.”

The Parliament is also making a major push to encourage students and young adults to attend and is giving discounts for young people to attend.

The increase in youth-led activism, religious and otherwise, is something that both Horan and Mujahid said will influence the Parliament’s direction.

“With the birth of the Interfaith Youth Core and all the grassroots and local groups that have spread out in the last 10 years, we’re looking at a tremendously different Parliament,” Horan stated about the youth movements.

In a statement on the Parliament’s website, Mujahid said the decision to host the Parliament meetings every two years instead of every five to “shorter attention spans” in an interconnected world.

The 2015 conference will mark the Parliament’s fifth in recent decades. Previous ones having taken place in Chicago, Cape Town, Barcelona and Melbourne. The first and founding Parliament conference took place in 1893 in Chicago during the world’s fair.

Even as the announcement of the 2015 event is still new, plans for a 2017 conference is already in the works with 20 cities vying to host it. For now, the Parliament will focus on making the 2015 conference a success.