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Interfaith Peacebuilding

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Interfaith Programs

UPF-Taiwan Organizes Interreligious Seminars

Taipei, Taiwan - Because interfaith cooperation is an important way of promoting peace, UPF-Taiwan organized four interreligious educational activities in 2010, each with a seminar in the morning and tour of a religious site in the afternoon. We visited four important religions holy sites. We also invited lecturers from 10 different religious groups to give short presentation on their religious practice. This created good opportunities for people of various faiths to understand other religions and allowed people without any religious background to learn about the importance of religions and their contribution to the society. About 200 people took part in these four events.

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April 20 visit to the I-Kuan Tao Shengwei Tiengtai Temple
(a new religious movement that incorporates elements from Confucianism, Taoism, and Chinese Buddhism and also recognizes the validity of non-Chinese religious traditions such as Christianity and Islam)
Participants in the interfaith seminar: 10 from Tientism, 22 from Unificationism, and 15 from I-Kuan Tao

June 25 visit to the Chung Tai Chang Monastery
(headquarters of the Taiwan-based Buddhist monastic order founded by the Venerable Master Wei Chueh)
Participants in the interfaith seminar: 9 from Catholicism, 24 Ambassadors for Peace, 5 from Tientisakio, 4 from Buddhism

August 28 visit to Wei Xin Zong
(Wexinism was founded by Grand Master Huen Yuan out of devotion to the propagation and application of I Ching and Feng Shui, and belief in the revelation from Bodhisattva Wang Chan Lao Zu, also known as Guiguzi, an ancient Chinese philosopher who was a master of politics, diplomacy, military strategy, and fortune-telling during the Warring States Period of Chinese history.)
Participants in the interfaith seminar: 35 Ambassadors for Peace, 3 from the Chinese Heritage and Moral Source, 32 from Weixinism

November 20 visit to the Dharma Drum Mountain
(an international Buddhist spiritual, cultural, and educational foundation founded by late Venerable Ch'an [Zen] Master Sheng-yen)
Participants in the interfaith seminar: 35 Ambassadors for Peace from various religious backgrounds.

Reflections

We began these seminars to educate Ambassadors for Peace through visiting the holy sites of various religions and to build better relationships among the various religious groups in Taiwan. We wanted to stimulate interfaith dialogue by inviting lecturers from different faiths to share about their beliefs and practices; we envisioned each seminar including representatives of three religions.

We found it is easy to invite smaller religious groups to participate in these activities. Their leader would give a talk about their group and some followers would come as well. The willingness of people to participate seemed to depend on whether their leaders felt it was important.

The holy sites of various religions generally welcome visitors, but we learned that it can be more challenging for them to host interfaith dialogues. The first and third trips were to new religious groups, and they were open to having their site used for interfaith dialogue. The second and fourth sites were not available as that particular time was not appropriate for them to host an interfaith dialogue. Therefore, we used other locations, such as the community room of a library. So, the entire program fulfilled the initial purposes, with two changes of location for the morning interfaith dialogue.

We prepared a small book about these interfaith presentations to give to Ambassadors for Peace, and we will use it for further interfaith work. The Taiwanese government helped subsidize the cost of printing, since promoting interfaith understanding and respect is a service to society.

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