Reaching Across Religious Borders

June 19, 2007

Author: Marleen Shepherd

Source: The Southern

CARBONDALE - The 1893 Parliament of World Religions is considered the birth of formal inter-religious dialogue worldwide.

The historic meeting of east and west occurred during the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. This first World's Fair attracted the participation of nations across the globe. More than 27 million Americans, growing in sophistication, came to meet the world.

It may seem strange then that key documents from the first Parliament of World Religions are at Southern Illinois University Carbondale's Morris Library and not in Chicago where the Council for a Parliament of the World's Religions carries on the 114-year tradition. However, the documents have found a fitting home in that Carbondale has a unique history as a trailblazer in interfaith cooperation.

The idea has taken off in many communities in response to Sept. 11, but Carbondale citizens have engaged in such dialogue for nearly three decades.