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THE WORLD'S RELIGIOUS PARLIAMENT
EMERSON, our great poet-philosopher, has said: "America,
thy name is opportunity ! " And, indeed, here is the place to
realise ideals which appear to be impracticable in Europe. The
New World is like a new dispensation with new possibilities for a
higher, nobler, and grander covenant. What was left undone in
Benares, the centre of an old civilisation, in Jerusalem, a city sacred
to three great religions, in Rome the venerable see of the Popes,
and in London the home of modern science and industry, has been
accomplished by the bold spirit of Chicago enterprise. A parlia-
ment of all the religions of the world, always regarded as a vague
dream, has become an actual fact of history, the importance of
which can hardly be overrated, for it will more and more be recog-
nised as a landmark in the evolution of religion. But the duty de-
volves on us to utilise its blessing, to extend it to the whole world,
and to make it a permanent factor for good in the future develop-
ment of mankind. For this purpose the World's Religious Parlia-
ment Extension has been founded, in which it is proposed to estab-
lish friendly relations among all religions for a better mutual under-
standing, to awaken all over the world a lively interest in religious
problems, and above all to facilitate the final and universal attain-
ment of religious truth.
The significance of the World's Religious Parliament Extension
is not merely local. All over the world, there are men who are seri-
ous in their religious convictions, who not only want the truth as
they see it recognised by their brethren, but also desire to under-
346 THE MONIST.
stand the meaning of others with whom they disagree and are anx-
ious to grow in both their comprehension of the truth and their sym-
pathy for all honest inquirers. At the New Year's reunion, when, on
the occasion of a celebration of the world's congresses, the World's
Religious Parliament Extension was inaugurated, we witnessed at
the Auditorium, the largest theatre of Chicago, a stately gathering
of thousands of eager people who had come to listen to the speeches
of the best known ministers of the city and its vicinity; and greet-
ings were read from prominent religious leaders representing the
greatest denominations and most important religious aspirations of
We here present some of the messages received, and let them
speak for themselves.
GREETINGS FROM ROMAN CATHOLIC PRELATES.
Cardinal Gibbons writes to the Hon. C. C. Bonney :
"I regret very much that I must deny myself the pleasure of
"participating in the meeting to commemorate the 'World's First
"Parliament of Religions.'
" My official duties render it impossible for me to leave home
" at this time.
" I take this occasion to tender you my sincere and cordial con-
" gratulations on the success of the 'World's Fair Auxiliary,' and
" I have reason to hope that the results of this Congress, in which
"you took so prominent a part, will be long-enduring and far-
A telegram from Archbishop Ireland :
" Happy New Year to my friends of the World's Congress Aux-
iliary. You do well to perpetuate the memory and extend the in-
" fluence of the great work of 1893. It was a marvellous work,
"leaving its deep ineffaceable mark in the world of thought and pro-
LETTERS OF SYMPATHY FROM BUDDHISTS.
H. Dharmapala, editor of the Maha-bodhi Journal, Calcutta, In-
dia, a representative of Ceylonese Buddhism, writes :
"The scene of last summer often comes into vividness, and
THE WORLDS RELIGIOUS PARLIAMENT EXTENSION. 347
"then I see the panoramic picture of the brilliant gathering, the
"joyful faces, the cordial shaking of hands, the meeting-hall, and
"the welcoming of delegates. The spirit that animated me to take
"part in the deliberations of the Parliament of Religions still urges
"me on, and I know that if you will persevere in building up the
" superstructure on the bases of love and compassion laid by the
"late Parliament, you will succeed. The world needed a friendly
"assemblage and the Parliament was the result. The great evils
"that afflict mankind have to be combated, and who will do this
"but the free and democratic people of America?
" If your Government would take action upon your suggestion
"to print the proceedings of the several Congresses, it would be
"splendid, indeed. Such a mass of knowledge could never again
"be collected. I hope your suggestion will be carried out by the
"American Government. The sympathy of millions of people is
"with you, and that is enough to keep you safe and strong."
Shaku Soyen, a Buddhist High Priest of the Zen Sect, Kama-
kura, Japan, writes :
" I deeply sympathise with the plan of continuing the work of
"the Parliament of Religions. It appears to me that the present
"age is a period in which a religious reform is preparing itself all
"over the world, and it is our duty to investigate the truth with
"impartiality, so that its light may shine brighter than before.
"Some narrow-minded persons imagine that they can suppress
"the universal aspiration that called the late World's Religious
" Parliament into existence, which is the greatest spiritual event of
"our age. But they will not succeed, and I hail the movement of
" the Religious Parliament Extension which you have started. It
"is a new proof that progress cannot be checked. We have to fight
"a religious battle against superstitions and narrowness by taking
"the spirit of science and philosophy as shield, and the principle of
' ' universal brotherhood as sword. The distinction between Chris-
"tianity, Mohammedanism, and Buddhism should not be made be-
" fore the altar of truth, and we should be open-minded enough not
"to exaggerate the importance of the differences which exist be-
tween races, rituals, and languages. I sincerely hope that your
348 THE MONIST.
"movement will be successful so as to unite the religions of the
" world and lead them to the recognition of the truth."
Zitsuzen Ashitsu, of Hieisan, Omi, Japan, a Buddhist priest
representing the Tendai Sect, writes :
"That the Parliament of Religions as undertaken by Western
"energy and religiosity has proved a great success and produced
"good results by dispersing the prejudices of narrow-minded people
"both in the East and in the West, by revealing the fundamental
"truths which are common to every religion, by explaining the
" foundation upon which alone man can find peace of soul and enter
"eventually into the life eternal of bliss, and by setting forth the
"ultimate ground of the religious unity of the world, is now fully
"established, not only in the opinion of the people at large, but
"also, and especially, by all scholars of prominence. These are
"important facts which we should always bear in mind.
" I am very glad to learn that you have founded an organisation
"under the name of 'Religious Parliament Extension,' which will
"pursue the noble and good principles of the Parliament of Reli-
"gions. It is a Buddhistic idea that 'truth is but one, while its
"dress may be different,' and, so far as I can, I heartily wish to co-
" operate with you."
MESSAGES FROM ORTHODOX PROTESTANTS.
Bishop Benjamin W. Arnett of the African Methodist Episcopal
Church writes :
' ' I am with you and the Committee heart and soul, and I hope
"that there will be a Parliament of Religions in every land, so that
"mankind may feel as we felt, and see as we saw at Chicago."
The Rev. Joseph Cook writes :
"My watchword for the World's Congress Reunion Extension
"and Celebration at the Auditorium, January 1, is :
" Via Lucis, Via Cruris, the way of light is the way of the
"Cross. Upward, Onward, Heavenward !
"The echoes of the Parliament of Religions of 1893 have been
"world-wide, and will endure for generations.
"These responses already prove that vital and enlightened or-
THE WORLDS RELIGIOUS PARLIAMENT EXTENSION. 349
" thodoxy ought to rejoice in the general result of a wholly unprece-
dented assembly, which represented the religions of more than
"half of the human race, and opened all of its sessions with the
' ' Lord's Prayer.
"The Parliament must be judged by its official record, edited
' ' by its Chairman, the Rev. Dr. John Henry Barrows, and not by any
"or all of the very numerous fragmentary and distorted reports of
" it, which have misled portions of the public, at home and abroad.
"It was officially stated in the Parliament, at the outset, by
"both President Bonney and Dr. Barrows, that the equality among
" religions guaranteed in the meetings was parliamentary and not
"doctrinal. No speaker understood himself to be' making doctrinal
"concessions of any kind. Every historic form of religious faith
" was guaranteed a fair hearing. All non-Christian faiths now stand
"face to face with Christianity, and are, many of them, being pro-
foundly modified by this contact. The pretences of several alien
"faiths are a part of their defences. It is important that the former
"should be understood, if the latter are to be overthrown.
" Many distinguished Christian missionaries not only took part
"in the Parliament, but, after a year's study of its results, have
" recognised the immense value of its proceedings and official litera-
" ture, in exhibiting to non-Christian nations the difference between
"real and nominal Christianity, and the substantial unity of evan-
" gelical Christendom in the essentials of religious doctrine and life,
"in spite of diversities in denominations and polity.
"Christianity of the scholarly, Biblical, and aggressive type
"stood forth in the World's Parliament of Religions among non-
" Christian faiths and philosophies as the sun among candles. And
"this incomparable pre-eminence it can never henceforth fail to
"have among all intelligent, devout, and conscientious students of
"the self-revelations of God in human nature and history."
PROPOSITIONS OF A CHRISTIAN MISSIONARY
The Rev. George T. Candlin of Tientsin, China, writes :
"Since my visit to Chicago I have thought much on the old
"subject, religious union, how it can be promoted, and how the
350 THE MONIST.
" grand object of the Parliament, as I conceived it, can be realised.
"The more I think the more clearly I perceive how tremendous the
"barriers are and how seemingly unyielding. Without such stimu-
"lus as the Parliament of Religions has afforded me, I should find
"myself simply unable to believe in the possibility of union. But noth-
"ing can shake my confidence that the historic and consecrated
"gathering in Chicago was the herald of a great spiritual movement,
" and that the fire it has kindled will not be blown out till the refin-
" ing and fusing mission is complete. The point of interest on
"which I concentrate my attention is the relation of Christian to
" non-Christian faiths. This I take to be the very gist and crux of
" the missionary problem in the world of thought. The question of
"union within the Christian Church may be left for the Church in
"Christian lands to work out. I regard that, stupendous as the
"changes involved will be, as a foregone conclusion. The forces
"which will bring it to a triumphant issue are already in operation
"and act with ever-accelerating effect. The attitude which Chris-
" tians must assume to non-Christian faiths, and the feeling towards
" Christianity to be promoted amongst non-Christians is peculiarly
"the missionary's problem. This the great body of home-Chris-
" tians are not in a position to solve. The solution is yet far off,
"and it will be a terrible business to get through. But had the
"Parliament of Religions any lower or less comprehensive ideal
"than this — the complete reconcilement of religious belief through-
" out the world? The question of questions then is what, precisely,
" can we do to promote it? What steps which will put us a little
"nearer the ideal, if only a few feet nearer, are practicable now?
"This is where our sincerity will be put to the test, when we pass
" from sentiment to action. To attempt too much will be to accom-
"plish nothing. To attempt no action will be to leave the ideal a
"beautiful but unsubstantial dream, fading ever into the dimness of
" Nay, if it be — alas —
' ' A vision, let us sleep and dream it true !
"Or — sane, and broad-awake,
" For its great sound and sake,
"Take it, and make it earth's, and peace ensue.
THE WORLD'S RELIGIOUS PARLIAMENT EXTENSION. 35 1
"Now in the attempt to say what can be done, I am guided
"entirely by the analogy of that development which has already
"taken place in the direction of union amongst Christians. We now
"hear on all hands direct proposals for union amongst various sec-
"tions of Christians. These proposals were not possible so late as
" half a century ago. Why? Because a prior state of mutual re-
"gard and respect had not been established. Christians of differ-
"ing beliefs simply used to damn each other. Then union was
"impossible, and every one who proposed it was considered as irre-
"ligious as he was crazy. But as soon as they reached the stage
"where they honestly gave one another credit for good intentions,
"instead of calling one another emissaries of Satan, the spirit of
"tolerance prevailed, and together with a recognition of the com-
"parative insignificance which lay in differences of creed, grew up
"a genuine consciousness of their common hold upon the truth.
"This is where Christians, many without quite knowing it, stand
' ' to-day. The old names, Catholic, Protestant, Anglican, Dissen-
" ter, Baptist, Methodist, Independent, Calvinist, Armenian, have
"lost their spell, and we know that as true and as lovely exhibitions
" of Christian character are developed under one form of faith as
" under another. How sane and healthy all this is. We at once
"see the good in such, understand the meaning of each ; and, what
"is better, each begins to awake to a sense of its own limitations.
"We are now in sight of the goal, for we see that whatever becomes
"of the names, union will come by conserving and promoting all that
"is true and good in each.
" Now some such process must be attempted on the wider field
"of general religious union. Our present aim must be to get the mu-
" tual tolerance which subsists already between the sections of Chris-
"tendom. We must begin by giving one another credit for good
"intentions. I do not see why we may not commence at once by
" the leading representatives of the various faiths who were present
"at Chicago, including all the distinguished representatives of
"Christianity, with Mr. Mozoomdar, Mr. Dharmapala, Mr. Vive-
"kananda, Mr. Ghandi, the Buddhists of Japan, the high priest of
352 THE MONIST.
"Shintoism, and our friend Mr. Pung entering into direct covenant
" with each other :
"i. Personally never to speak slightingly of the religious faith
"of one another. This I understand does not debar the kindly and
"reverential discussion of differences which exist, or the frank utter-
" ance of individual belief.
"2. Officially to promote among their partisans, by all means
" in their power, by oral teaching through the press, and by what-
ever opportunity God may give them, a like spirit of brotherly re-
"gard and honest respect for the beliefs of others.
"3. To discourage amongst the various peoples they serve as
"religious guides, all such practices and ceremonies as not consti-
"tuting an essential part of their faith, are inimical to its purity and
"are the strongest barriers to union.
" 4. To promote all such measures as will advance reform, pro-
" gress and enlightenment, political liberty and social improvement
"among the people of their own faith and nationality.
" 5. To regard it as part of their holiest work on earth to enlist
" all men of ability and influence with whom they are brought into
"contact in the same noble cause.
"To these articles I can heartily subscribe myself. I do not
" see why others may not. I am sure you can subscribe to them,
"and Dr. Barrows, and Dr. Momerie, and Dr. Hawies, and the Rev.
"Lyman Abbott, and Rabbi Hirsch, and Dr. Boardman. I am
" sure that Mr. Mozoomdar can, for I have been reading his Orien-
"tal Christ, and I find the Brahmo-Somaj put forth such principles
"long ago. I hope he will not denounce me as a plagiarist. I
"think Mr. Dharmapala ought, and Mr. Vivekananda, and Mr.
" Ghandi, and Mr. Pung, and the others.
"The result within our own lifetime from united action of this
" kind, on the part of those of us who had the priceless privilege of
"coming together in council last year from all parts of the world —
"a 'band of brothers' — would be incalculable. All over the world
"man would be crying to his fellow-man in cheery tones of brother-
" hood, and answering echoes of love and the holy name of religion,
"no longer prostituted as a divine sanction to metaphysical wran-
THE WORLDS RELIGIOUS PARLIAMENT EXTENSION. 353
"gles, would represent everything that binds men's hearts in holi-
"ness, and everything that opposes sin and selfishness.
" In the name of all that was greatest in the Parliament of Re-
ligions, the common ties and common aspirations of humanity
"which it represented; in the name of whatever in it was most
"prophetic of the future, I ask you, our noble President, you who
"have the warm love and unstinted confidence of us all. — Why may
"we not do it?"
It is to be hoped that the World's Religious Parliament Exten-
sion will contribute toward that common ideal of all religious minds
which will at last unite mankind in one faith and prepare the estab-
lishment of a church universal. Rituals and symbols may vary ac-
cording to taste, historical tradition, and opinion, but the essence of
religion can only be one and must remain one and the same among
all nations, in all climes, and under all conditions. The sooner man-
kind recognises it, the better it will be for progress, welfare, and all
international relations, for it will bring "glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace toward the men of good-will."
We can see as in a prophetic vision the future of mankind ;
when the religion of love and good-will has become the dominating
spirit that finally determines the legislatures of the nations and
regulates their international and home politics. Religion is not for
the churches, but the churches are for the world, in which the
field of our duties lies. Let us all join the work of extending the
bliss of the Religious Parliament. Let us greet not our brethren
only, but also those who in sincerity disagree from us, and let us
thus prepare a home in our hearts for truth, love, and charity, so
that the kingdom of heaven, which is as near at hand now as it
was nineteen hundred years ago, may reside within us and become
more and more the reformatory power of our public and private