Category Archives: One World Religion

Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth sequel program recruits world religions for holy war on changing climate

goreAl Gore. Photograph by Graeme Robertson

“I’ve done a Christian [-based] training program; I have a Muslim training program and a Jewish training program coming up, also a Hindu program coming up. I trained 200 Christian ministers and lay leaders here in Nashville in a version of the slide show that is filled with scriptural references. It’s probably my favourite version, but I don’t use it very often because it can come off as proselytising.”

Nobel winner adapts fact-based message to reach those who believe they have a moral duty to protect the planet in Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis

guardian.co.uk | Nov 2, 2009

Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth sequel stresses spiritual argument on climate

by Suzanne Goldenberg

Al’s Gore’s much-anticipated sequel to An Inconvenent Truth is published today, with an admission that facts alone will not persuade Americans to act on global warming and that appealing to their spiritual side is the way forward.

In his latest book, Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis, the man who won a Nobel prize in 2007 for his touring slideshow on disappearing polar ice and other consequences of climate change, concludes: “Simply laying out the facts won’t work.”

Instead, Gore tells Newsweek magazine in a pre-publication interview, that he has been adapting his fact-based message – now put out by hundreds of volunteers – to appeal to those who believe there is a moral or religious duty to protect the planet.

“I’ve done a Christian [-based] training program; I have a Muslim training program and a Jewish training program coming up, also a Hindu program coming up. I trained 200 Christian ministers and lay leaders here in Nashville in a version of the slide show that is filled with scriptural references. It’s probably my favourite version, but I don’t use it very often because it can come off as proselytising,” Gore tells Newsweek.

Gore’s book arrives at a time of intense international scrutiny of America’s moves on the environment ahead of an international meeting on global warming at Copenhagen, now just more than a month away.

It draws on the scholarly approach Gore developed for Inconvenient Truth. Since 2007, the former vice-president has been calling experts together from fields ranging from agriculture to neuroscience to discuss possible solutions to climate change.

The book draws on 30 such “solutions summits”, as well as Gore’s countless telephone conversations with scientists at America’s best institutions. According to the book’s press release, “Among the most unique approaches Gore takes in the book is showing readers how our own minds can be an impediment to change.”

New polling last month showed a steep decline in the numbers of Americans who share Gore’s sense of urgency in acting on climate change.

Related

Gore poised to become world’s first “carbon billionaire”

The book aims to reach those Americans by familiarising readers with emerging alternative energy sources, such as geothermal, biomass and wind power, as well as the possibilities of making cleaner coal power plants, and developing a more efficient and responsive “smart” electrical grid.

Gore also explores how deforestation, soil erosion, and the rising world population are multiplying the effects of rising greenhouse gas emissions.

Much of the material was developed through the series of brainstorming sessions organised by Gore. Since 2007, the former vice-president has been calling experts together to discuss possible solutions to climate change. He has also held countless telephone conversations with scientists at America’s best institutions.

“He is one of the only politicians that takes the time to actually talk to scientists who are producing the cutting-edge stuff and he comes in with questions. He doesn’t ask us how our results impinge on a particular policy he actually asks about science,” said Gavin Schmidt, a climatologist at Nasa’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, who spoke to Gore along with colleagues four or five times for the book. “Nobody that we have dealt with has ever taken as much time to understand the subtlety of the science and all the different complications and what it all means as Al Gore.”

Those conversations led Gore to politically inconvenient conclusions in this new book. In his conversations with Schmidt and other colleagues at the beginning of the year, Gore explored new studies – published only last week – that show methane and black carbon or soot had a far greater impact on global warming than previously thought. Carbon dioxide – while the focus of the politics of climate change – produces around 40% of the actual warming.

Gore acknowledged to Newsweek that the findings could complicate efforts to build a political consensus around the need to limit carbon emissions.

“Over the years I have been among those who focused most of all on CO2, and I think that’s still justified,” he told the magazine. “But a comprehensive plan to solve the climate crisis has to widen the focus to encompass strategies for all” of the greenhouse culprits identified in the Nasa study.

The former vice-president has been working behind the scenes to try to nudge the White House and Congress to move forward on a 920-page proposed law to cut America’s greenhouse gas emissions and encourage its use of clean energy sources like solar and wind power.

On Saturday, he told the German newspaper, Der Spiegel, he was “almost certain” Obama would attend the negotiations. The White House has so far refused to make a commitment.

But Gore has also been confronted with almost daily fresh reminders of the difficulties of prodding Americans to action.

The proposed legislation has set off a ferocious debate about the costs of dealing with climate change – with conservative Democrats and Republicans saying reducing America’s use of oil will deepen unemployment and hurt average American families.

Republicans in the Senate have threatened to boycott a session today that had been called to move forward a draft of a 920-page proposed law to deal with climate change.

Progress on the bill is seen as crucial to getting a binding deal at Copenhagen. Barbara Boxer, the chair of the Senate’s environment and public works committee, said yesterday she was ready to move ahead without any Republican participation.

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Glenn Beck-Lord Monckton Debate Global Warming

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Non-Christians to marry in Anglican churches

The Australian | Oct 20, 2009

by Caroline Overington

Anglican Australia ArmsAUSTRALIA’S largest and most conservative Anglican diocese will tomorrow approve changes that would permit couples to marry in church, whether or not they are Christian.

The change to be passed at the Sydney synod tomorrow makes the diocese the 14th of the country’s 23 to approve the reform that would allow an unbaptised Australian to be married in church provided he or she meets the basic standards for civil marriage: a union between a man and woman voluntarily entered into for life.

The change was first mooted at the Anglican general synod in 2007. It has since been put to the different dioceses for agreement and will go back to the national synod next year. Of 16 dioceses that have so far considered it, 13 have agreed, including Melbourne and Adelaide, with Sydney to follow tomorrow, breaching the halfway mark.

The reform drops the “faith requirement” promulgated in 1981 that requires at least one half of the couple be baptised into the Christian faith (not necessarily Anglican).

The Catholic Church, by comparison, requires both parties to be baptised before they can be married, and one half of the couple must also be Catholic. The Uniting Church does not require a declaration of faith.

Anglicans insist the change has nothing to do with the decline in popularity of the church marriage.

On the contrary, the church in Sydney has recently had to appoint Richard James to do nothing but meet the engaged and conduct weddings at the classic, neo-Gothic St Thomas Church in North Sydney, which has lately been overwhelmed by couples wanting to marry there.

“My target market are people who wouldn’t call themselves Christian,” the Reverend James said yesterday.

“They are people who have no relationship with God, who want to get married in a church and I welcome them with open arms.”

He doesn’t always know why couples who aren’t Christian want to marry in his church, but suspects it may be because the church is pretty and the service so lovely.

“But that’s OK. I want unchurched people, who don’t have a church, to come to us,” he said.

“My concern is, for too long, churches have been turning away people because they don’t fulfil the criteria.

“I’m not going to knock back people who aren’t Christian. I marry them, and I tell them God is present, and I pray for them, and they love it. And maybe, just maybe, we can introduce them to God that way.”

The Bishop of North Sydney, Glenn Davies, said the Anglican Church did not want to put conditions such as that in the 1981 law on marriage.

“If we say one half of the couple must be baptised, that might encourage people to get baptised just so they can get married. Baptism is more important than that,” Bishop Davies said.

Bishop Davies said it was particularly silly for the Anglican Church to say that only one half of the couple had to be baptised.

“If the requirement were that both had to be Anglican, that would have least made sense,” he said.

“To have one a Christian, and one not a Christian, that means you could have a Christian in the church marrying a Buddhist.”

He said some bishops were concerned about the change, saying a commitment to the teachings of Christ was surely a minimum requirement.

But he said many other clergy were not even aware of the requirement and did not ask couples if they were baptised before they married them.

Catholic Freemason Lauds Dan Brown’s Lost Symbol

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American Freemason Lauds Dan Brown’s Lost Symbol; Launches Website as Proof to Brown’s Claim

PRWeb | Sep 21, 2009

American Freemason and New York psychologist Dr. Patrick Swift launches website InterfaithReligiousTolerance.net as proof to one of Dan Brown’s claims regarding Freemasonry in the Lost Symbol. Swift is editor of the website, a member of George Washington Lodge #285 in New York City, and a practicing Catholic who previously studied to become a Jesuit priest.

New York, NY (PRWEB) September 21, 2009 — American Freemason and New York psychologist Dr. Patrick Swift launches website InterfaithReligiousTolerance.net as proof to one of Dan Brown’s claims regarding Freemasonry in the Lost Symbol. Swift is editor of the website, a member of George Washington Lodge #285 in New York City, and a practicing Catholic who previously studied to become a Jesuit priest.

In The Lost Symbol (http://www.thelostsymbol.com/), Dan Brown presents his main character Robert Langdon teaching that, “One of the prerequisites for becoming a Mason is that you must believe in a higher power. The difference between Masonic spirituality and organized religion is that the Masons do not impose a specific definition or name on a higher power.” Swift supports that statement as accurate, but says Brown takes artistic license as well. “He is absolutely correct to write that religious tolerance is one of the foundational principles of Freemasonry,” says Swift. “It’s what drew me to the Fraternity in the first place, and continues to inspire me today. I must say though that I’m no official voice for Freemasonry.”

“I have enormous respect for the Masons,” Brown told The Associated Press during a recent interview (Yahoo! News) (http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090915/ap_en_ot/us_books_brown_masons). “In the most fundamental terms, with different cultures killing each other over whose version of God is correct, here is a worldwide organization that essentially says, `We don’t care what you call God, or what you think about God, only that you believe in a God and let’s all stand together as brothers and look in the same direction.”

A healthcare provider to 9/11 victims and author of One Mountain, Many Paths, Swift promotes religious tolerance with his website and offers it as proof that at least one of Brown’s basic claims about Freemasonry is accurate. According to the website, the mission of InterfaithReligiousTolerance.net is to promote communication and constructive dialogue between people of faith – regardless of any difference in spiritual orientation, faith, creed, or religious denomination (details) (http://www.interfaithreligioustolerance.net/About.html).

“I feel compelled to speak out in support of religious tolerance because intolerance and bigotry threaten to tear our country and our world apart,” says Swift.  “Religious tolerance is a basic American value within our government and our Constitution. Founding Fathers like George Washington, Ben Franklin, Paul Revere, and John Hancock understood the importance of this as Freemasons.”

Holding a firm belief that our likenesses vastly outnumber our differences, Swift compiled his award-winning book One Mountain, Many Paths (Double Eagle Press) in the wake of 9/11. Swift’s book contains uplifting quotes from the sacred texts of all the great religious traditions, organized into chapters such as “Love One Another” and “Love Your Enemy.” Swift is giving away free copies of his book online at InterfaithReligiousTolerance.net (http://www.interfaithreligioustolerance.net/).

A clinical psychologist at a major medical center in Manhattan with faculty appointments in neurology and rehabilitation medicine, Swift has cared for thousands of people from different faiths and offers diversity training to healthcare providers (details at PatrickSwift.com (http://www.patrickswift.com/). “One of my favorite stories involves a time when I worked with a Muslim physician from Pakistan to care for a Hindu patient from India, with me as a Catholic neuropsychologist from Texas. Religion doesn’t have to be a dividing force between us. It can actually bring us closer together.”

Click here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=af6WKMh-t7o) to watch Dr. Swift speak at a performing arts center in Ohio. See him on the O’Reilly Factor here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qw1djiEEARA).

About Double Eagle Press LLC:

Established in 2006, Double Eagle Press’ mission is to produce hardcover, trade paperback, and e-book editions that make a positive difference in the world. Their consumers are people who care about the world in which they live and strive for peace and tranquility in their own lives. National and international book distribution is available through Ingram, Baker & Taylor, and The Bookmasters Group. Double Eagle Press publishes Interfaith Religious Tolerance.net and is solely responsible for its content.

Contact:

Dr. Patrick Swift

Double Eagle Press LLC

(862) 205-1924

###

Contact Information
Patrick Swift
InterfaithReligiousTolerance.net
http://www.interfaithreligioustolerance.net/
(862) 205-1924

American Stonehenge: Monumental Instructions for the Post-Apocalypse

georgia_guidestones

The Georgia Guidestones may be the most enigmatic monument in the US: huge slabs of granite, inscribed with directions for rebuilding civilization after the apocalypse. Only one man knows who created them—and he’s not talking. Photo: Dan Winters

Wired | Apr 20, 2009

By Randall Sullivan

The strangest monument in America looms over a barren knoll in northeastern Georgia. Five massive slabs of polished granite rise out of the earth in a star pattern. The rocks are each 16 feet tall, with four of them weighing more than 20 tons apiece. Together they support a 25,000-pound capstone. Approaching the edifice, it’s hard not to think immediately of England’s Stonehenge or possibly the ominous monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Built in 1980, these pale gray rocks are quietly awaiting the end of the world as we know it.

Called the Georgia Guidestones, the monument is a mystery—nobody knows exactly who commissioned it or why. The only clues to its origin are on a nearby plaque on the ground—which gives the dimensions and explains a series of intricate notches and holes that correspond to the movements of the sun and stars—and the “guides” themselves, directives carved into the rocks. These instructions appear in eight languages ranging from English to Swahili and reflect a peculiar New Age ideology. Some are vaguely eugenic (guide reproduction wisely—improving fitness and diversity); others prescribe standard-issue hippie mysticism (prize truth—beauty—love—seeking harmony with the infinite).

What’s most widely agreed upon—based on the evidence available—is that the Guidestones are meant to instruct the dazed survivors of some impending apocalypse as they attempt to reconstitute civilization. Not everyone is comfortable with this notion. A few days before I visited, the stones had been splattered with polyurethane and spray-painted with graffiti, including slogans like “Death to the new world order.” This defacement was the first serious act of vandalism in the Guidestones’ history, but it was hardly the first objection to their existence. In fact, for more than three decades this uncanny structure in the heart of the Bible Belt has been generating responses that range from enchantment to horror. Supporters (notable among them Yoko Ono) have praised the messages as a stirring call to rational thinking, akin to Thomas Paine’s The Age of Reason. Opponents have attacked them as the Ten Commandments of the Antichrist.

Whoever the anonymous architects of the Guidestones were, they knew what they were doing: The monument is a highly engineered structure that flawlessly tracks the sun. It also manages to engender endless fascination, thanks to a carefully orchestrated aura of mystery. And the stones have attracted plenty of devotees to defend against folks who would like them destroyed. Clearly, whoever had the monument placed here understood one thing very well: People prize what they don’t understand at least as much as what they do.

The story of the Georgia Guidestones began on a Friday afternoon in June 1979, when an elegant gray-haired gentleman showed up in Elbert County, made his way to the offices of Elberton Granite Finishing, and introduced himself as Robert C. Christian. He claimed to represent “a small group of loyal Americans” who had been planning the installation of an unusually large and complex stone monument. Christian had come to Elberton—the county seat and the granite capital of the world—because he believed its quarries produced the finest stone on the planet.

Joe Fendley, Elberton Granite’s president, nodded absently, distracted by the rush to complete his weekly payroll. But when Christian began to describe the monument he had in mind, Fendley stopped what he was doing. Not only was the man asking for stones larger than any that had been quarried in the county, he also wanted them cut, finished, and assembled into some kind of enormous astronomical instrument.

What in the world would it be for? Fendley asked. Christian explained that the structure he had in mind would serve as a compass, calendar, and clock. It would also need to be engraved with a set of guides written in eight of the world’s major languages. And it had to be capable of withstanding the most catastrophic events, so that the shattered remnants of humanity would be able to use those guides to reestablish a better civilization than the one that was about to destroy itself.

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Prince of Wales calls for ‘bridges’ to be built between faiths

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Prince Charles has spoken of the need for society to develop understanding and find strength in diversity to help overcome ‘dangerous prejudice’

The Prince of Wales called for bridges to be built between faiths as he addressed members of a centre for Islamic studies at a special dinner.

Telegraph | Feb 26, 2009

He talked of the need for society to develop understanding and find strength in diversity to help overcome “dangerous prejudice”.

The Prince was speaking at a reception hosted by The Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, a recognised independent Centre of Oxford University.

Established in 1985 the Centre encourages a better understanding of the culture and civilisation of Islam and of contemporary Muslim societies.

The Centre, of which the Prince is patron, pursues academic excellence through teaching, research and publication, and the cultivation of sustained dialogue and collaboration within the global academic community.

The Prince, who was invited in celebration of his 60th birthday, last night addressed an audience including local dignitaries, scholars and other guests including Jack Straw at the university’s Magdalen College.

He told them: “One of the challenges we face is the process of integration which in many ways is a dynamic one, evolved with each successive generation.

“To be successful in developing a truly harmonious society in which everyone’s talent can be recognised and developed on its own merits, we have to find the right ways to derive strength from our diversity.

“As inhabitants of this country we all have a role to play in shaping our society on the basis of one fundamental principle and that is understanding.”

The Prince said the great faiths needed to concentrate on what they shared in common rather than “an obsession with the differences between them” and the chasms that creates.

He added: “The future surely lies in rediscovering the universal truths that dwell at the heart of these religions.

“All I have ever wanted to do is build bridges that span these chasms.”

The Prince said he was delighted by the Centre’s work in increasing understanding and breaking down barriers.

He also talked about the Centre’s positive response to raising awareness of the need to protect the environment and “human stewardship” of the natural world.

He thanked the Centre for helping conduct research into conservation practices in the Islamic world including methods of preserving rainwater.

At present Centre Fellows teach in a range of departments and faculties of the University of Oxford including Politics, International Relations, Development Studies, Theology, Anthropology, History and Continuing Education.

It attracts visiting scholars from all parts of the Muslim world.

It is currently constructing a new building including a library, auditorium, prayer hall, dining hall and exhibition gallery.

Next year it will begin a scholarship programme for young British Muslims.

Dr Farhan Nizami, the Director of the Centre, paid tribute to the Prince’s “guidance and encouragement” and said they owed him a great debt of gratitude.

He said: “These great environmental practices are examples of how the centre is trying to learn from the works of his Royal Highness.

“We wish to contribute to a society where people work together for the common good and equality and mutual respect.”

Obama stresses unity among religions, prepares faith office

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Obama with Cardinal Egan. The White House Office of Faith-Based Partnerships has drawn criticism for blurring the line separating church and state

Earth Times | Feb 5, 2009

Washington – US President Barack Obama on Thursday reached out to believers of all faiths as he expanded the White House office of faith-based partnerships. Speaking at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, Obama acknowledged differences among religions, but stressed the common beliefs of all faiths to care for others.

“Instead of driving us apart, our varied beliefs can bring us together to feed the hungry and comfort the afflicted; to make peace where there is strife and rebuild what has broken; to lift up those who have fallen on hard times,” he said.

“This is not only our call as people of faith, but our duty as citizens of America, and it will be the purpose of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighbourhood Partnerships that I’m announcing later today.”

Former president George W Bush created a White House Office of Faith-Based Initiatives that helped religious groups seek grants to provide social services. Obama, who signed an order later Thursday creating his own programme, is expected to keep a similar structure. He has also created a council of religious advisors from various backgrounds to provide input on policy.

The office has drawn criticism for blurring the line separating church and state, but Obama insisted his work would not favour religious groups over secular ones but simply allow all organizations to provide services to their communities.

Obama made an effort during his election campaign to reach out to religious groups, even designating staff specifically to the task. He faced controversies, however, over inflammatory statements made by his then-pastor and rumours that he was a Muslim.

At the breakfast, Obama outlined his religious journey as the child of a Muslim father who became an atheist and non-religious mother, and how he became a Christian as an adult while working with disadvantaged residents in Chicago.

The breakfast draws thousands, including many legislators and religious leaders, each year. Former British prime minister Tony Blair gave the key note address, speaking of religion’s attack from extremists within and non-believers.

Haitian President Rene Preval, Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha, Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski and Mauritius Prime Minister Navinchandra Ramgoolam also attended.

Blair hails ‘God’s love’ in extraordinary speech as he stands alongside Obama at prayer breakfast

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‘My good friend’: Barack Obama applauds Blair’s speech to the Prayer Breakfast in Washington

Daily Mail | Feb 6, 2009

By Michael Lea

Tony Blair famously ‘didn’t do God’ during his decade in Downing Street, fearing he would be viewed as a religious fanatic.

But the former Prime Minister lectured the world yesterday on the need to put faith at the heart of global affairs.

In an impassioned ‘sermon’ in the U.S. he made no fewer than 31 mentions of God, and declared: ‘In surrendering to God we become instruments of his love’.

Mr Blair also scored a diplomatic coup as the first ‘world leader’ to shake hands with President Barack Obama, who hailed him as ‘my good friend’.

He said Mr Blair ‘did it first and perhaps did it better’ and had been an example to so many people around the world ‘of what dedicated leadership can accomplish’.

The exchanges will cause frustration in Number 10, where Gordon Brown is still awaiting an invitation to Washington.

The former Premier was speaking in the U.S. capital at the annual National Prayer Breakfast.

In a sharp departure from his days in power – his spin doctor Alastair Campbell once told reporters ‘We don’t do God’ – he spoke passionately of his faith.

Although traditionalists will welcome the remarkably frank and passionate speech, others will also point out that for 10 years Mr Blair led a Government addicted to the casual lying that comes with political spin and took the country into a disastrous war on the flimsiest of evidence.

Mr Blair, who converted to Roman Catholicism after leaving Downing Street, gave a revealing insight into how he felt unable to discuss religion there.

He said: ‘I recall giving an address to the country at a time of crisis. I wanted to end my words with “God bless the British people”.

‘This caused complete consternation. Emergency meetings were convened. The system was aghast. Finally, a senior civil servant said, with utter disdain: “Really, Prime Minister, this is not America you know”.’

Yesterday he threw off those inhibitions and said: ‘I believe restoring religious faith to its rightful place, as the guide to our world and its future, is itself of the essence.

‘The 21st century will be poorer in spirit, meaner in ambition, less disciplined in conscience, if it is not under the guardianship of faith in God.’

Mr Blair, now the international peace envoy to the Middle East, said his new job meant he spent a great deal of time in the Holy Land.

He said: ‘It is a good place to reflect on religion – a source of so much inspiration, an excuse for so much evil. Today, religion is under attackfrom without and from within. From within, it is corroded by extremists who use their faith as a means of excluding the other.

‘From without, religious faith is assailed by an increasingly aggressive secularism, which derides faith as contrary to reason and defines faith by conflict.

‘Thus the extreme believers and the aggressive non-believers come together in unholy alliance.’

Mr Blair recalled an incident when he was just ten and his father Leo suffered a stroke. A teacher wanted to pray for him, but Mr Blair confessed that his father did not believe in God. The teacher reassured him: ‘That doesn’t matter, God believes in him.’

The former Premier said: ‘That is what inspires – the unconditional nature of God’s love’. Leo Blair, now 85, survived the stroke.

A humorous Mr Blair charmed his audience with self deprecation but also by displaying his passionate Christianity.

He told Mr Obama: ‘As you begin your leadership of this great country, Mr President, you are fortunate, as is your nation, that you have already shown in your life, courage in abundance.

‘But should it ever be tested, I hope your faith can sustain you and your family.’

By return, the President praised ‘my good friend Tony Blair – who did it first and perhaps did it better’ at the head of a list of personal acknowledgments.

Mr Blair ended his speech: ‘By the way, God bless you all.’